Are you passionate about health, food and helping people in diet and nutrition? If yes, a career in dietetics may be the best option for you. A qualified nutritionist recommends people what to eat to lead a healthy lifestyle or how to attain a specific health-related goal. They assess the current dietary habits of the patient and suggest those healthy eating habits, take follow up whether diet plans are helpful or not, write reports on patients’ progress. Sometimes they are also invited to schools, corporate offices to speak to the groups and spread information about healthy food. Nutritionists work in close collaboration with individuals facing medical issues like diabetes, osteoporosis, or patients undergoing chemotherapy. They suggest them the right food to eat that their health allows.
Additional responsibility of a nutritionist
Nutritionist helps their clients emotionally as well as mentally to remain focused on their goals. For this, they regularly encourage, motivate and support them. They inform the people about the benefits and harm of specific diets and food trends on their health. Depending on the level of education and expertise, a nutritionist may also test for specific food allergies.
How to build a career in nutrition?
Find the right education program
First of all, find out the requirements for a nutritionists needed by your state. It may include state licensure or certification including a bachelor’s or master’s degree in food and nutrition. After this, find the right degree program.
Entry level nutritionists require acquiring a bachelor’s degree in health, nutrition or related field. A bachelor’s degree program generally takes four years where students may need to complete internships.
An advanced degree or program
Although advanced degrees are not mandate to work as a nutritionist, they make a student ready to work as educators or researchers in the nutrition field. An advanced degree program usually takes additional two years either full-time schooling or distant learning. It often includes following courses:
Medical nutrition therapy
Public policy and health issues
After graduation, a learner may opt for Master of Science in nutrition in order to broaden his/her knowledge or brush up the skills. These programs have been specially designed to make a student specialize in certain area. A master’s degree also includes understanding nutrition research.
Salaries for related careers in nutrition
The careers for a nutritionist are ample in different sectors. According to U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, a fitness nutrition specialist salary was $57,910 p.a. in 2015, and the job opportunities for nutritionists are expected to rise by 21% from 2012 to 2022. The expected growth level is much higher, and at present due to increased concern about rising obesity and health problems, the demand of expert nutritionist has rose.
Common careers in this field
Some of the most common careers opportunities in the sector of nutrition include health educators, nutritionist, chefs or caterers, wellness consultants, etc. Let us get to know about them one by one.
As a nutrition educator, you may need to work at a school, private industries, nonprofit organization and a public or government health agency. Usually, a nutrition educator is supposed to develop programs to instruct a certain population about the nutrition and healthy practices. They assess the need of the people for whom they work, develop and distribute health-related materials, posters and pamphlets. They evaluate the effectiveness of the program and make amendments if required.
Nutritional Counselors work in hospitals, nursing homes, schools and other health care facilities where patients need dietary programs and health tips. They explain nutrition issues, assess patients’ need related to health and diet, develop diet chart within the budget and preference of the client, evaluate the effects of diet plans, and make changes in it if required. Nutrition counselor work to promote better nutrition by talking to groups about diet and nutrition. They keep themselves updated with latest nutrition research.
Some nutritionists work independently establishing their practice or working as a consultant. They counsel clients on specific issues like eating disorders, sports nutrition, weight management, etc. Sometimes they also consult at spas, yoga center, gym or health clubs. One can even write articles for magazines or local newspaper.
Herbalists are special nutritionists who acquire expertise in herb based remedies for the treatment of an illness. Many people prefer herbal treatment over pharmaceuticals. Therefore, herbalists develop a dietary program incorporating herbs and supplements keeping the needs of different individuals in mind.
If you are interested in working in this field, there are ample opportunities. If we talk about degrees and qualification, apart from regular graduate level degree, there are a number of additional degrees, diplomas, and programs to earn additional expertise. You can even pursue a program through online courses.