To become a licensed or registered nutritionist, you need to obtain specific levels of education and training to meet state requirements. Licensing, certification, or registrations are required in forty-eight of the fifty states. To become a nutritionist, you will need to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in dietetics, food services, nutrition or a related area at a minimum. Required college courses may include nutrition, the study of food, biology, chemistry, institution management, mathematics, and physiology. Learning a foreign language such as Spanish or Chinese may also be useful.
Beyond the educational components, nutritionists need good oral and written communication skills. They need to be able to work with a variety of different types of people from healthy to sick to the young, and the old. Nutritionists also have to be able to effectively communicate with wide range of people from very young children to cardiovascular surgeons.
Once the aspiring nutritionist completes a Bachelor’s degree and the required coursework, they are able to take an exam for the Registered Dietitian credential, which is award by the American Diabetic 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 and internships needed to practice in your state and for your area of specialization.
There are excellent schools that offer nutrition related programs in many parts of the U.S. In determining which school to attend, be sure to evaluate the reputation of the school, the quality of instruction, and talk to current or former students to get their feedback. Aspiring nutritionists should also consider which specialization best fits their strengths and interest. Whether it is in public health, schools, hospitals, or working for a professional sports team, a career as a nutritionist can present a variety of options.
By obtaining a Masters degree, nutritionists have better career opportunities when entering the field, particularly with positions in research, public health, or advanced clinical nutrition. Obtaining a masters degree can also help for career advancement.