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Nutritionists in the USA

By Linda, published on 12/08/2019 Blog > Health and Fitness > Nutrition > How to Become a Nutritionist in the USA

Food is an important part of our everyday lives. As the saying goes – you are what you eat! That’s why it’s so important to make sure you eat the right foods and food combinations to give your body the nutrition it needs to live and thrive.

Eating food can also have symbolic meanings related to love, comfort, and security for some people. You may also be surprised to find out that certain foods like chocolate contain antioxidant molecules that have been proven to improve your mood.

While other foods like oranges and lemon can help prevent diseases like scurvy. These are some food and human nutrition facts a nutritionist might learn during their nutrition and health education.

In the United States, the rising number of fast-food chains could be related to the rising obesity rates and chronic diseases across the country. That’s where the role of a nutritionist comes in, as they can provide guidance and help to make healthier dietary changes.

A good nutritionist could also provide you with the nutrition information you need to choose healthier foods.

A bowl of ramen noodles sitting over a red tabletop. Nutritionists provide guidance and help to make healthier dietary changes. (source: unsplash)

How to Become a Qualified Nutritionist

Working as a nutritionist can be a rewarding career. Not only do they help people fulfill their nutritional needs and avoid getting chronic diseases, but they will also provide dietary advice and encourage the consumption of a balanced diet.

In the United States, the most common way for people to become a nutritionist is through years of dedicated studies toward an education program, sometimes at the graduate degree level.

After completing their nutrition and food lessons, aspiring nutritionists can go to work as self-employed entrepreneurs if they desire more freedom in their working lives. Other nutritionists desiring a structured life and career can work for hospitals, schools, and even holistic medicine clinics.

While an education or license is not required for working in some fields of nutritional science, the career options are also limited for those who did not go through a formal nutrition health education.

If you are determined to go through the formal education route, you have several options for earning your nutritionist qualifications. They are the Associate of Science in Nutrition, Bachelor of Science in Nutrition, and the Master of Science in Nutrition.

Yearly Salaries of Registered Nutritionists

If you are considering a future career as a nutritionist, you may be interested in researching the yearly salaries of nutritionists. After all, you want to make sure you can lead a comfortable life with the wages you make to sustain and support your lifestyle.

According to 2014 data collected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average hourly wage of nutritionists is $27.38. Overall, professional nutritionists earned a median annual wage of $56,950 while the top ten percent of people working in the food and nutrition profession made $79,840.

The states where professional nutritionists had the highest salaries in 2014 were California, Maryland, Nevada, Connecticut, and New Jersey respectively. In California, the top earners in the nutritionist profession and in the 90th percentile made an average of $85,850 per year.

The bottom earners in the 10th percentile in California only made an average of $41,450 which is only around half as much as the top earners.

Pastries sitting on a wooden table next to a cup of coffee. The average hourly wage of nutritionists is $27.38. (source: unsplash)

Where Can You Work as a Nutritionist

The work location for nutritionists will vary depending on the type of job they are hired for. For self-employed dietitians and nutritionists who run their very own businesses, they can choose to work at an office location of their choice or even do remote online work.

Clinical nutritionists, on the other hand, may work in medical facilities like hospitals, long-term care facilities, and other types of private clinics. Nutritionists who work for the community and who specialize in counseling a specific group of people such as seniors or children can be found inside community centers, public health organizations, nonprofit agency offices, schools, and nursing homes.

Based on data published by the U.S. Department of Labour, in 2012 a total of 31% of nutritionists work in local, state, or private hospitals. 13% of nutritionists work for government agencies while 9% work for nursing homes and residential care facilities.

Finding a Place to Study Nutrition in the USA

Due to the abundance of post-secondary schools in the United States, you have many options when it comes to choosing a place to pursue your nutrition science studies.

For casual nutrition enthusiasts, consider taking online nutrition courses that interest you. For more serious learners who are pursuing a career, you may want to carefully examine your university options.

In addition, there are many accredited nutrition degree programs offered by American universities to choose from. When choosing a university or school to take your nutrition courses, one factor to consider is how long are you willing to commute to it.

Do you want to move away from home, pay rent on your own, but also enjoy the college experience? Or would you prefer to study close to your parent’s home to save money on rent and living expenses?

Another factor to look into when choosing a school for yourself is whether the school has a good reputation and the employment rates of their alumni if you are keen to get a job right after graduation.

A student walking past a university campus building in summertime. Carefully examine your university options to study nutrition. (source: unsplash).

How to Find Clients as a Nutritionist

If you have decided to start your very own nutrition business practice, one of the most challenging tasks you will face is finding enough clients to sustain your business. To start, try actively searching for your own clients by first identifying where you would find them. Are you targeting athletes or elder populations? What are some places these people would gather on a daily basis?

Once you identify where these people are, connect with potential clients by starting conversations with them. The goal here is to establish yourself as a nutrition specialist.

You can also leverage the power of the internet to help spread the word about your nutrition business. Use social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn to connect and have conversations with potential nutrition clients.

Working as a Nutritionist Without a University Degree

Today, there are many types of nutrition science certifications for those who have not completed a formal nutrition education. Examples of these job titles include health coaches, nutritional therapy practitioners, and others. Keep in mind that if you choose to get one of the above certifications, you are not legally allowed to give out personalized health nutrition advice or medical nutrition therapy.

You should also understand the key difference between a nutritionist and a registered nutritionist. In the United States, anyone can call themselves a nutritionist as the term itself is unregulated. There are no educational requirements or guidelines for the term so you do not need a formal education. But nutritionists with the RD title next to their name must have a bachelor’s degree as well as complete a series of courses, an internship, and pass an exam.

How to Become a Sports Nutritionist

Sports nutritionists work with athletes to develop nutrition programs to go with their active lifestyles. To become a sports nutritionist, you should have proper training as well as strong verbal and written communication skills and active listening skills.

The first step to becoming a sports nutritionist is to earn a bachelor’s degree in nutrition, ideally with a focus in sports nutrition through a program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). After that, you will need to complete a 1,200-hour, ACEND-approved supervised dietetic internship program.

Additionally, most U.S. states require nutritionists and dieticians to be licensed. These licenses are issued based on training and experience, and you can earn your license through the American Dietetic Association. Sports nutritionists can also get certified by The Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR).

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