There is a wide ranging demand for the knowledge and abilities of a nutritionist - a healthcare professional working in an ever growing and prosperous industry. The skills of a qualified nutritionist are needed to help prevent disease and illness by implementing and supervising proper food and nutritional programs, as well as by suggesting dietary changes and dietary supplements that promote overall health and optimum performance.
What type of work is involved in a nutritionist career?
Nutritionists hold positions which can be found in quite a few different types of organizational structures. The knowledge and expertise of these individuals is an important function of these institutions including: senior care centers, hospitals, extended care facilities, and prisons. A nutritionist might practice in an entrepreneurial capacity consulting dieters and/or athletes who require special eating programs. A nutritionist can be found working in occupational titles such as Dietician, Dietetic Consultant, Food Service Manager, Pediatric Dietician, Nutritionist, Pharmaceutical Sales Rep, and Clinical Nutritionist.
What education do I need to become qualified for a nutritionist career?
Depending on the state one lives in, he or she may not be required to prove themselves educated in the field in order to work as a nutritionist, though obtaining a degree, certification, or licensure can certainly increase one's career opportunities and options, as well as the likelihood of being hired. The legal requirements for the practicing nutritionist vary by state.
There are three different types of legal provisions a nutritionist can obtain in the U.S. which are: Licensing, Statutory Certification, and Registration. A licensed nutritionist must obtain a license in his or her state in order to practice, and the statutes therein usually define a specific scope of allowable practice; otherwise they could be advising illegally. Statutory Certification limits the specific use of nutrition-related occupational titles. Registration for the nutritionist is considered to be the least restrictive. In a registration state, unregistered persons are not allowed to practice nutrition. In some of these registration states, there is no exam requirement.
To be a Certified Clinical Nutritionist there are certification boards in certain states which require the applicant to hold a master's degree in nutrition (or related field) from an accredited college. They must also have practical experience in the field of nutrition before they can take the certification exam. Upon successful completion of the exam a Nutritionist may refer to themselves as a Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS), a protected title. A person can also obtain the required bachelor's degree to become a dietitian, which is a protected title, the title of nutritionist on its own is not protected. If a nutritionist obtains a bachelor's degree and also takes a national examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration, he or she may also work as a Dietitian, then considered to be a Registered Dietician (RD).
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