Nutritionists are health professionals who develop healthy meal plans and who oversee meal preparation to ensure a high-quality of nutrition in the diet. Often, they work in hospitals or other care facilities, including nursing homes or schools cafeterias. Nutritionists must have at least a bachelors degree in nutrition in order to find a job, and other licenses or certifications may be required for active practice in some states.
Nutritionist Job Responsibilities
A nutritionist is someone who oversees the preparation of meals and who plans out the meals for many hospitals, nursing homes, schools, or day care centers. They plan out meals according to nutritional needs of their patients, and help prevent illnesses by including healthy foods that boost the immune system. Many nutritionists go on to specialize in a certain area, including clinical, management, community, or consultant dietitians or nutritionists.
These professionals work in a variety of environments, including hospitals, public health facilities, educational organizations, schools, or in private practice. Clinical nutritionists typically work in hospitals or other care facilities and work directly with patients, creating a meal plan to fit their particular needs. Community nutritionists work more in the public arena, promoting public health and educating the community on healthy eating practices. These individuals are often responsible for public health advertisements regarding dietary habits, and sometimes provide educational seminars at schools or other environments to promote healthy eating.
Management nutritionists, on the other hand, typically work in the schools, creating the meal plans for students as a whole. They are responsible for ordering food supplies and monitoring the preparation and portion control of the food that goes onto students’ plates. Management nutritionists also sometimes work in hospitals, nursing homes, or other care facilities where meal plans are created for large groups of people. Consultant nutritionists are those who generally have a private practice and work on an individual basis with their patients. They work with patients to create an individual meal plan aimed at losing weight or increasing overall health. Some consultant nutritionists also work with sports teams or other organizations to create healthy meal plans for athletes or other individuals.
Nutritionist Training and Education Requirements
In order to become a nutritionist, it is necessary to have at least a bachelor’s degree in food science, nutrition, or a related area. It is beneficial if you have a master’s degree in these areas, but it is not necessary. Courses required for a nutritionist often include courses in biology, nutrition, psychology, finance, and chemistry. Coursework covers a wide range of topics, especially if you are interested in private practice. In order to successfully conduct a private practice as a nutritionist, students must learn about business management and operations. Private practice individuals must understand budgeting, planning, scheduling, finance, and other aspects of business management, including a knowledge of their field in nutrition. Other educational requirements must also be met, depending on the state in which you practice. On top of the bachelor’s degree, many states also require that nutritionists have a license to practice in the state. Before considering a career in nutrition, be sure to understand the educational requirements for your state, including any certifications or licenses.
Nutritionist Salary and Wages
Depending on the kind of practice you undertake, nutritionists make between $40,000 and $55,000 a year. Those who work for the public health organizations tend to earn less than their private practice counterparts. There are also opportunities to conduct research in the laboratory, and these individuals often earn more per year than other nutritionists. Salaries are also dependent on education, experience, qualifications, number of patients, and the type of facility. There is much room for variation in terms of salary and job duties in this field. Many nutritionists eventually go on to specialize in a certain field, which may also increase wages.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
The Commission on Dietetic Registration of the American Dietetic Association offers a Registered Dietitian certification to those interested in the program, although this certification is not necessary for practice. However, it is much easier to find a job if you have this kind of recognized certification. The program includes a supervised internship, which provides on-the-job experience in the field. This experience is very valuable to those interested in becoming a nutritionist, since it provides the knowledge and skills necessary at this kind of job. After completing the coursework for the Registered Dietitian certification, students must sit for an exam. If the student passes the exam, then they receive the certification and must continue to attend continuing education classes every five years to stay on top of the changes in the industry.
Nutritionist Professional Associations
The Commission on Dietetic Registration of the American Dietetic Association is a very important association for those who are looking to become dietitians or nutritionists. This association has all of the resources necessary for becoming a Registered Dietitian, as well as information helpful for those interested in this career. The Commission on Dietetic Registration of the American Dietetic Association provides educational services for entry-level students, as well as continuing education programs for those in the field.