Career Advice: How To Become A Nutritionist

A nutritionist is required to have a Bachelor's degree in addition to other skills and state requirements.

A nutritionist is someone who plans meals in accordance with medical, nutritional, and other needs for patients in hospitals, nursing care facilities, physician's offices, etc.

Becoming a nutritionist does require some advance planning. A nutritionist is required to have a Bachelor's Degree, and in most states, licensure or certification. If a person who is interested in becoming a nutritionist is still in high school, they should seek to complete courses in the following: biology, chemistry, math, health, and communications.

There are accredited programs throughout the United States at many colleges and universities for becoming a nutritionist. Since nutritionists are required to have a Bachelor's Degree, attending a four-year institution of higher learning is a must. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, a nutritionist can have a Bachelor's Degree in any of the following: Dietetics, Foods and Nutrition, Food Service Systems Management or a related field. The Department of Labor states that they must have had courses in the following areas: foods, nutrition, institutional management, chemistry, biochemistry, biology, microbiology, and physiology. It is also suggested that they have classes in business, statistics, computer science, psychology, sociology and economics. Many programs also require a designated number of hours of supervised experience in a health care setting, similar to an internship.



This is a field that is heavy in the sciences area, so if you do not enjoy or are not good at science, you might want to consider another field. Nutritionists need to have good verbal communication skills so that they can interact with other health professionals such as doctors, nurses, social workers and also family members of the patient. Almost all work is documented on a computer, so it is important to have adequate computer skills. A nutritionist may be overseeing the day-to-day operations of the food service in a nursing care facility or other setting, so some managerial and organizational skills would also be helpful.

The Department of Labor maintains that 46 states have some kind of law regarding the standards for nutritionists. Of these 46 states, 30 require licensure, 15 require certification, and 1 requires registration with the state upon graduation from an accredited program. Since requirements vary from state to state, it is a good idea to check out what the requirements are for your state before beginning a program.

Jobs in the health care industry are a good bet these days. There always seems to be a shortage of health care workers, and although this applies more to nurses than nutritionists, it is still a growing field. A nutritionist can expect to make a fairly good salary when employed. The Department of Labor lists the median income for a nutritionist at $41,170, with the low being $25,520 and the high being $58,700. So you are probably not going to get rich becoming a nutritionist, but if that was the case, you would be pursuing a career as a financial analyst or something similar. Most people get into jobs in the health care field for the intrinsic benefits, not the financial ones. As a nutritionist, you can make a comfortable living while knowing that you are helping people in need to eat a healthy diet and hopefully live better lives.

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