If you are considering a career as a nutritionist or dietitian, you may be wondering what type of courses you’ll be taking and education you will be required to obtain-and what to expect along the way. Below are some of the basics things you should know if you are considering a career in this field.
Your Degree And Certification
Most states will require you to earn a bachelor’s degree in order to operate as a general nutritionist. While a bachelor’s degree will allow you to branch off into an area of specialty, if you plan to go into a highly specialized area of nutrition or health-you may want to pursue a master’s degree or PhD.
A bachelor’s degree will include nutritionist classes in basic nutrition, biochemistry, organic chemistry, human anatomy, and human physiology. Nutritionist classes are offered both on-campus and online. Once your degree is earned, you must pass a test to receive your certification.
Hands On Experience Will Be Required
Being a nutritionist is not just about learning the scientific aspects of how the food you eat affects your overall health-but learning how to assess your client’s needs, and work with them on a personal level. This included doing more than just meal planning, but finding healthy foods and recipes they individually enjoy.
Whether the goal of seeking out a nutritionist is for general health, optimum athletic performance, weight loss, pregnancy, or managing health conditions such as diabetes or cholesterol-you must learn the art of connecting with your clients.
To help you get heading in the right direction, you will be required to participate in an internship where you shadow and work with a certified nutritionist. The average internship is 6-12 months.
Maintaining Your Certification
Each state is different, but most will require the school you attend to be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education (CADE). Once you graduate and pass the certification test, you will be required to maintain your certification by attending nutritionist classes for ongoing education. This will ensure that you are up to speed on the latest advances in field of nutrition-allowing you to best serve your clients.
The above expectations are a great place to start, and as the world of mobile health continues to grow-nutritionist are able to expand their practice via both live appointments, and via video conferencing or phone consultations.