Nutritionists are trained to know how food effects the health and well being of people. They are aware of what foods are good for you, what foods need to be avoided and how a healthy diet can lead to a longer, more productive life. Nutritionists understand that adjusting the diet can treat or prevent a variety of diseases and illnesses. If you enjoy helping people and working with food, a career as a nutritionist might be a good choice for you.
Increasing Your Odds of Landing the Job
If you are a high school student considering a career as a nutritionist, you want to make it a priority to study subjects such as biology, chemistry and health. A bachelor’s degree is necessary in most cases if you would like to work as a nutritionist so college students should choose majors such as food service management, food and nutrition or dietetics. Take courses chemistry, biology, microbiology and physiology to understand the make up of foods, the human body and how they all interact. Also, don’t forget to include classes in psychology and sociology to help you understand people and how they feel and think. Mathematics, computer science, economics and other business classes to help you learn about managing and handling the day to day workings of a company or a business. Nutritionists should have good communication skills that allow them to speak with and educate clients. There are many different aspects to the position that require good analytical and organization skills to perform the job well.
You will also be required to participate in a supervised internship or training program. Internships may last from 6 to 12 months. Nutritionists are required to take at least 75 credit hours every 5 years to continue their education. Many states require nutritionists to have a license or registered and certified by the state.
As the public and the medical world becomes more aware of the role foods and a healthy diet play in maintaining good health and treating diseases, the need for licensed nutritionists continues to grow. Everybody seems to be getting on board with making healthy eating a priority. Many companies now have a full-time nutritionist on staff. Sports teams, from as early as high school through professionals, have positions that need to be filled. Even individuals who in the past simply hired personal trainers are getting on the nutritionist bandwagon as they realize healthy eating is the key to weight loss and getting in shape even more so than exercise.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment opportunities for nutritionists will increase 21 percent between 2012 and 2022 which is much faster than the average across all careers. It really is a great time to get started on this career path whether you’re in high school or have decided it’s simply time for a career change into something that’s fairly low stress and quite enjoyable.
Places of Employment
Nutritionist positions are found working in a wide variety of settings. You may work in a hospital, a nursing or assisted living facility for the elderly, for a school district, physicians offices or clinics. You could also find employment in correctional institutions and on college campuses or with private clients or families who need the assistance of a licensed nutritionist. Eventually, you may choose to become self-employed and open your own practice where you will be responsible for working with either businesses or establishing relationships with private clients.
Types of Nutritionists
There are several different fields that a nutritionist can pursue. Here are just a few of them:
- Clinical nutritionists offer assistance to people who are in nursing homes and hospitals. They help medical professionals develop programs that assist in the nutritional needs of patients.
- Community nutritionists teach individuals or groups about proper nutrition and healthy eating habits which promote health and wellness. They evaluate the needs of their private clients, develop diet plans and teach individuals how to follow the plan.
- Management nutritionists are responsible for planning meals for cafeterias in businesses and schools, correctional institutions and health care facilities. They hire workers and train, plan menus, create budgets, purchase food and supplies and keep records and prepare reports.
- Consultants normally work out of their own private practice to help larger facilities like nursing homes or hospitals with their clients. They screen patients and offer advice on using diet to help improve health related issues such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and high cholesterol.
Nutritionists may choose to use their degree and training to pursue careers in food service management, dietitians and registered nursing. They may also wish to go into the education field and teach at schools, hospitals or universities. If for some reason you believe being a nutritionist is not right for you once you become one, there are other fields you may go into without too much effort.