To become a nutritionist, you need to obtain specific levels of nutritionist education and training. Licensing, certification, or registrations may also be required depending on which state you live in. At a minimum, you will need to obtain a bachelor’s degree in dietics, food services, health and wellness, nutrition science, or a related area. Required college courses may include the study of food, nutrition, institution management, mathematics, biology, microbiology, chemistry, biochemistry, and physiology. Learning a foreign language may also be useful.
Nutritionists need good oral and written communication skills. They need people skills as they work with healthy people, sick people, the young, and the old. Nutritionists have to be able to effectively communicate with a diverse group of peole from very young children to recent immigrants to cardiovascular surgeons.
What it Takes to Become a Nutritionist
Forty–eight states have laws mandating that nutritionists have a license, certification or registration to practice. Upon completion of a bachelor’s degree and required coursework, aspiring nutritionists are able to take an exam for the Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist (“RDN”) credential, which is awarded by the American Dietetic Association. The credential is awarded after receiving a passing score on the exam and completing an internship in the field. Be sure to research the credentials needed to practice in your state and for your area of specialization.
There are excellent nutritionist schools throughout the country to choose from. Be sure to evaluate the reputation of the school, the quality of instruction, and talk to current or former students to get their feedback. Choosing the right program is important for the aspiring nutritionist. Also, by obtaining a master’s degree, nutritionists may be able to have better career opportunities when entering the field, particularly when specializing in research, public health, or advanced clinical positions. Obtaining a master’s degree can also help for career advancement.