What does a nutritionist job include? In this field, there are many career paths in various sectors and jobs for different levels of education. Looking at what a nutritionist does is one of the most important steps you can take before enrolling in a college degree program.
Individuals can earn a nutrition education starting with a certificate program or an associate degree. But, an advanced degree, like a master’s or doctoral degree, will give individuals the best career outlook.
Is a Nutritionist the Same as a Dietician?
While nutritionists and dieticians share similarities, nutritionists usually need a college degree and some experience. In the United States, dietitians are certified to treat clinical conditions, whereas nutritionists are not always certified. Nutritionists focus specifically on how different foods impact people differently, but you’ll find yourself doing several things when working in this field. To be a Registered Dietician, students must complete a Dietetic Internship (DI) with a bachelor’s or master’s degree.
Develop Weight Loss Programs
One of the jobs that a nutritionist might do relates to weight loss programs. The experience and education you earn can teach you the importance of eating different foods and which foods are the best for people of different body types. Developing a weight loss program lets you share your knowledge with others.
While you might create a weight loss program used by thousands of people, you’ll more likely work with individual clients and help them create a program that will help them improve their overall health.
Assist Those with Medical Conditions
When looking at what a nutritionist does, you might find that some work in hospitals and medical clinics to support those recently diagnosed with certain diseases. These nutritionists help people with diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, high cholesterol, and other diseases. They provide nutrition education and teach patients how their foods can affect their overall health.
They also work with patients diagnosed years ago to ensure they follow the diet plans and recommendations issued by a doctor. You’ll have the chance to help your clients decide what they can and cannot eat and show them how to keep track of their foods to see how different meals affect their bodies.
Work with Athletes
According to the Association for Nutrition, sports and exercise nutrition is one of the growing fields for nutritionists. Sports and exercise nutrition is a specific category that deals with athletes at the professional and amateur levels. The human body uses the food eaten to create energy to get through the day.
Athletes can burn hundreds of calories during a single practice session, and athletes generally need to use diets that are different from ordinary people. A sports nutritionist looks at the activities that an athlete performs and determines the best type of diet for that person. Many nutritionists keep working with athletes during the off-season.
Nutrition experts also work in food science. People constantly look for new ways to lose weight, and nutritionists constantly research the impact of those new diets on the human body.
Some of those nutritionists working in food science work for private companies like food corporations. For example, nutrition research determines the total number of calories, fat, and other ingredients found in new foods before those foods hit the market.
In addition to working for private food manufacturers, food science experts may also work for research institutes, colleges, and the government.
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Where Do Nutritionists Typically Work?
Not all nutritionists work in the same fields. Some work with private clients in their own offices, while others work for hospitals, private practice medical clinics, food service settings, or research institutes. Though looking at what a nutritionist does is essential for your future, you also want to look at what each type of nutritionist does and where they work.
In 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the below list of the five largest employers of dietitians and nutritionists.
|Employer||Percent of Workers|
|Outpatient Care Centers||10%|
|Nursing Homes & Residential Care Facilities||9%|
How Do You Become a Nutritionist?
Nutritionists may provide care and help clients in many different settings. They may work directly with individuals, specific groups, or management roles in different food and health facilities. Nutritionists typically have a bachelor’s degree or higher. Additionally, they must have training through an internship or practicum experience.
They need both education and training. Some degree programs have this supervised training as part of the degree. So, students complete training as part of their undergraduate or graduate coursework.
State Licenses and Certifications
Many states require nutritionists to have a license. While some only require state registration or certification. And a few states do not have any regulations for the occupation. Additionally, state licensure or state certification requirements vary from state to state.
However, most require a bachelor’s degree or higher in nutrition or a related area, supervised practice, and applicants must also pass a licensing exam. Additionally, individuals must maintain continuing education credits and license requirements throughout their careers.
Employers may prefer to hire candidates who have professional credentials. Although these credentials are not always required, they may provide more employment opportunities. In addition, the qualifications may be the same for a licensed dietitian or nutritionist in states that require a license.
- Registered Dietitian (RD)
- Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)
- Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS credential)
- Registered Nutritionist (RNutr)
- Registered Associate Nutritionist (ANutr)
- Board for Certification of Nutrition Specialists (website)
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (website)
- Commission on Dietetic Registration (website)
- American Nutrition Association (website)
- Holistic Nutrition Credentialing Board (website)
- American Association of Nutrition Consultants (website)
What Jobs Can a Nutritionist Get?
What can you do as a nutritionist? Be a champion of the health benefits of healthy eating and holistic health. For example, a nutrition plan can treat illnesses and is used with traditional medicine to help cancer patients.
These health professionals encourage healthy eating habits, prescribe nutrition therapy, offer nutrition counseling, help patients with food allergies, and offer education and training in nutrition science. They work with all types of clients, patients, and other healthcare professionals. So, there are many jobs for nutritionists. Below are a few detailed jobs for nutritionists and dieticians.
Clinical dietitians and clinical nutritionists
These professionals work in hospitals, long-term care facilities, skilled nursing facilities, outpatient clinics, and other institutions. They provide medical nutrition therapy using customized nutritional programs based on the patient’s medical diagnosis or condition.
They treat health conditions and teach patients how to improve their health through nutrition and maintaining good eating habits. Clinical dietitians and clinical nutritionists can also specialize in specific health conditions. Many work with individuals with kidney disease, cancer, diabetes, eating disorders, and digestive disorders.
They work with children to ensure they make healthy food choices for developmental milestones and they maintain a healthy lifestyle. They also create therapeutic diets for children with chronic conditions and specialized diets for children with special needs.
Community dietitians and community nutritionists
They often work in public health clinics, government and nonprofit agencies, health maintenance organizations (HMOs), and other settings. They work on public policy and develop community health programs to educate the public about food, health, and nutrition.
Management dieticians and nutritionists plan food programs in food service management settings such as cafeterias, hospitals, prisons, and schools. They supervise meal planning, buy food, and oversee kitchen staff and nutrition departments. In addition, some carry out administrative duties like budgeting or other business related tasks.
Weight Management Nutritionist
These nutritionists work with clients to develop meal plans to meet their weight goals. A plan may include a low calorie diet with adequate nutrition or a healthy high calorie diet.
Sports Nutritionist / Sports Dietetics
These nutritionists work with athletic teams or individual athletes. They help develop eating plans for muscle building, low calorie diets for weight loss, or sufficient calories to maintain specific exercise regimes. Sometimes sports nutritionists are also trainers.
Many work in holistic healthcare clinics with other professionals to promote health and healthy lifestyles. These private practice facilities combine many services, treatments, and therapies to improve overall wellness. Treatments often include nutrition, exercise, acupuncture, and also chiropractic services. Therapies target both physical and mental health.
What is the Job Outlook for Nutritionists?
Is a nutritionist a high demand? Nutritionists are in demand. The US has an aging population that needs nutrition services which is increasing the demand. Additionally, the overall population is growing, creating a natural increase in healthcare professional jobs.
However, increased diet and exercise to combat and treat disease is also a factor for growth in this sector. And the US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts job growth in this career field of eleven percent (11%) from 2020 to 2030. The states that employ the most nutritionists are California, New York, Texas, Florida, and Pennsylvania.
|State||Number Employed (BLS)||Annual mean wage (BLS)|
|New York||4,880||$ 72,800|
How Much Do Nutritionists Make?
Nutritionist salaries vary by employer, experience, level of education, and geographic area or location. However, most nutritionists earn an excellent salary above the national average.
In May 2021, the BLS reported the median annual wage for nutritionists was $61,650. Furthermore, the salary range was from $42,530 to $93,64
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