Nutritionists and dietitians are healthcare professionals with specialization in nutrition and food. They deal with people who need special diets such as diabetics. They implement modifications in the diet of patients to promote a healthy lifestyle. However, the responsibilities of nutritionists and dieticians are different, so these terms should not be used interchangeably.
How Do You Get a Job as a Nutritionist
You can work as a nutritionist in some states even if you do not have formal education. However, you need a bachelor’s degree in nutrition, food service system management, dietetics and other health related courses to get a job as a nutritionist. A 4-year undergraduate program enables you to handle this responsibility. The course include classroom training in clinical dietetics. After the successful completion of graduation from an accredited educational institution, you can take part in supervised training. It can be completed in several hundred of hours. Normally, the training is provided in the form of internship. Once you complete the course and training successfully, you can appear for a written examination to get a license.
Programs include courses in:
* Nutrition and supplementation
* Nutrition and aging
* Nutrition and assessment
* Nutrition and disease
* Anatomy and physiology
Nutritionist is not a legally protected term. Therefore, a license is not required to work as a nutritionist or dietician in some states. However, registered dietitian is a more regulated title. You can continue your education if you want to become a certified Nutrition Specialist. You can earn this title if you have a graduate or master’s degree in nutrition. The course can be completed in three years. This title is highly protected and you can expect higher salary and better job opportunities if you earn this title. You must have doctoral or master’s degree and 1,000 hours of experience to appear for certified nutrition specialist examination. Certification Board for Nutrition Specialists is the administering agency for this credential.
As a nutritionist or dietitian, you must have analytical skills, compassion, speaking skills, problem solving skills, organizational skills and listening skills. You must be able to explain complicated topics to the people with less technical knowledge.
Is It Hard To Get A Nutritionist Job?
According to the information available in the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of nutritionists and dieticians is expected to grow 21 % through 2020. Today, people are very keen to increase their health and wellness by following the right food habit. People are also aware of the role of food in preventive healthcare. It is estimated that the number of obese people is increasing rapidly in the United States. Obesity is the root cause of many diseases such as kidney diseases and diabetes. All these health problems have direct connection with obesity. Therefore, diet has significant role in preventing and treating these diseases. So, more nutritionists and dietitians are needed for protecting the health of people with these conditions.
The baby-boom generation is also becoming older. They also want to be healthy always. So, the demand for nutritionists and dietetic services are also increasing. Demand for these professionals in nursing homes and home healthcare sector is also increasing because of the increasing number of aged population.
Therefore, the job prospects for nutritionists and dietitians are highly favorable. You will get better job opportunities if you have advanced degree or certification in a specialty area.
Job Opportunities for Nutritionist
As a clinical nutritionist, you can seek employment in hospitals, nursing homes, outpatient or clinical facility. Your main focus will be on malnutrition, both under and over nutrition. You can become a clinical nutritionist if you have a 4-year master’s degree in clinical nutrition.
Public Health Nutritionist
Public health nutritionists are responsible for creating policies to improve the health of population as a whole. You can also take part in state, community and national level programs. Master’s degree in public health is needed for getting a job as public health nutritionist.
Food is highly important for fitness. A sports nutritionist needs to work with trainers and coaches to prepare sportsmen and athletes for their sports activities. This is a highly lucrative career. You can become a sports nutritionist if you have master’s degree in sports nutrition therapy, advanced degree in sports nutrition or specialized certificate in sports nutrition.
You can open your own clinic if you have a bachelor degree in nutrition and good experience in various industries. As a freelance nutritionist, you can work in various clinics. You can turn as a consultant to companies, provide expert opinions, give talks, write blogs and columns and can also provide nutrition counseling online.
Duties and Responsibilities of Nutritionist
The nutritionist job description include:
* Assess the health needs and diet of patients and clients
* Develop meal plan
* Evaluate the effects of meal plan
* Change the meal plan as per the need
* Promote better nutrition
* Counsel patients on nutrition issues
* Write reports to document the progress of patients
* Update with latest nutritional science research
Nutritionist job description also include the evaluation of health of clients. Foods and diet are planned on the basis of those findings and evaluations. Sometimes, nutritionists and dietitians provide customized information to specific individuals. They specialize in areas such as diseases related to nutrient deficiencies, preventive nutrition, and the science of nutrition. They can seek employment in hospitals, community and public health settings, schools, outpatient clinics, scientific research, culinary and food service, businesses and other healthcare facilities.
How Much a Nutritionist Can Earn?
According to the Bureau of Labor Standards, the median annual income of a nutritionist or dietitian is around $55,240 (May 2012). If you are a registered dietitian nutritionist, you can earn around $60,000 per year. Your salary may vary depending on the location, place of work, industry, experience, etc. Mostly, the nutritionists and dietitians need to work full time. However, you can also seek part time employment in this field. If you are self-employed, you can enjoy more flexibility in your work schedule. Such nutritionists can work in evenings and weekends.
To become a successful nutritionist, you must have some specific skills such as excellent speaking skills, ability to work as team, good organizational and time management skills, evaluation and reporting skills, keen interest in healthy eating, ability to inspire and motivate others, non judgmental attitude, etc.