Here's How to Become a Nutritionist (Professional Guide)

Here's how to become a nutritionist. Some dietitians give information that is tailored to the unique needs of their clients. A dietician or nutritionist, for example, can educate a patient with high blood pressure on how to prepare meals with less salt.

Others collaborate with groups of people who have comparable requirements. To assist overweight persons to lose weight, they could devise a diet that is low in processed foods and sugar.

Learn how nutritionist specialists use food science to assist patients on a professional level.

What does a nutritionist do?

A nutritionist is a specialist in the field of food and nutrition. Nutritionists provide dietary advice to help individuals live a healthier lifestyle and manage illnesses. They can also assist people in achieving a certain health objective.

Dietitians are nutritionists who have been certified by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND). The term "registered dietitian" (RD) is a nationally recognized title in the United States, whereas "nutritionist" is regulated on a state-by-state basis.

Being a nutritionist necessitates good analytical, organizational, and communication abilities. It's a job where you'll be able to work both alone and as part of a team.

Many nutritionists and registered dietitians work in hospitals, nursing homes, long-term care facilities, medical offices, and other healthcare settings, but they can also work in their clients' homes or at universities.

Job duties and responsibilities

Nutritionists commonly perform the following tasks:

  • Explain nutrition and what it can do for the client.
  • Evaluate the effects of meal plans and make changes as needed.
  • Promote better nutrition by giving talks to groups on diet, nutrition, and the relationship between good eating habits and preventing or managing specific diseases.
  • Stay up to date on the most recent nutritional science research.
  • Provide medical nutrition therapy and suggest healthy eating habits.
  • Provide nutrition counseling, both emotionally and physically.
  • Embraces nutrition science to provide nutrition education to clients and promote physical and mental health.

Types of nutritionists

Nutritionists have a variety of specialities, despite the fact that they all perform comparable responsibilities. Nutritionists come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

Clinical Dietitians

Medical nutrition treatment is provided by clinical dietitians. They operate in a variety of settings, including hospitals, long-term care homes, and other organizations. Based on the health needs of patients or residents, they design both customized and group dietary regimens.

Clinical dietitians can specialize further, such as dealing only with patients suffering from renal disease. They can also collaborate with other healthcare providers.

Management Dietitians

Meal programs are devised by management dietitians. They work at cafeterias, hospitals, and food businesses, among other places. They can be in charge of purchasing meals and doing other business-related duties. They can be in charge of the kitchen or other dietitians.

how to become a nutritionist

Community Dietitians

Dietitians in the community teach the people about food and nutrition. They frequently work with specialized demographics, such as pregnant women.

They operate in a variety of contexts, including public health clinics, government, and non-profit organizations, health maintenance organizations (HMOs), and others.

Where do nutritionists work?

Nutritionists have a lot of options for where they can go with their careers, and they pay you'll earn will be mainly determined by whatever path you follow. The core of a nutritionist's job, regardless of location, is to encourage healthy eating and nutrition.

  • Schools: School meals have long been chastised for being unhealthy and nutritionally deficient, but times have changed. As more school districts recognize the significance of nutritious meals, nutritionists have been hired to create menus while keeping expenses in check. You can also be responsible for overseeing foodservice operations and purchasing food.
  • Hospitals: If you want to work as part of a bigger team, a hospital could be the place for you. You'll design treatment programs that address patients' needs holistically in this job. If you want to aid individuals who are suffering from specific illnesses or ailments, hospitals might be a fantastic place to start.
  • Private practice: If you're ready to go out on your own, you'll join the 15% of nutritionists and dietitians who work for themselves. You'll consult clients, offer recommendations, and design meal plans in a private practice. This includes outpatient care centers and other practice areas.
  • Research and advocacy: While promoting proper nutrition and teaching others is a normal aspect of the work, it is also possible to do so in a more official fashion. Some nutritionists work as researchers to learn about the most recent developments in nutrition science, while others focus on public policy issues such as nutrition labeling/nutrition research.

Average salary of a nutritionist

A nutritionist's average annual income in the United States is $52,669, with various salaries ranging from $14,000 to $123,000. Salary is determined by the employer, experience, education, and geographic location. Because they have a bachelor's degree and certification, registered dietitians usually earn more money.

How to become a nutritionist

While the stages to becoming a nutritionist vary based on your chosen professional route, the following are the most frequent and consistent:

Decide on nutritionist or dietitian

Nutritionists and registered dietitians both study nutrition and assist individuals in making better food choices in order to live a healthy lifestyle, but there are significant distinctions that can affect your career choice:


Nutritionists are in charge of overall nutritional objectives and practices. Dietitians are trained to identify and treat a variety of medical problems, including eating disorders.

Legal requirements

The education requirements for nutritionists differ from state to state. You might be able to give dietary advise without a certificate depending on where you reside. To become a registered dietitian, you must meet certain criteria, including obtaining a certification from the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR).


The term "nutritionist" is not often used in the United States. Registered dietitians, on the other hand, have a national reputation and a legally protected title. It is critical to recognize that while a dietitian is a nutritionist, a nutritionist is not always a dietitian.

Get a bachelor's degree

Complete a Bachelor's Degree in Health, Nutrition, or a related area such as dietetics or food service system management once you've decided on a career route. A Bachelor of Science in Nutrition or Health Care Administration Leadership, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in General Studies with a specialization in health care, are popular degrees among nutritionists.

how to become a nutritionist

A Bachelor's Degree in Clinical Nutrition is required to work as a clinical nutritionist. Advanced biochemistry, research, and evidence-based practice, and counseling will be taught in this degree program. As a clinical nutritionist, you'll concentrate on an individual's diet rather than the demands of the broader public.

Choose a bachelor's degree that has been authorized by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics if you want to become a registered dietitian.

Further your education (master's or doctoral degree)

Although advanced degrees are not necessary to work as a nutritionist, they might lead to jobs as an instructor or researcher in the area. Furthermore, a master's degree is required to become a certified nutritionist.

In two years of full-time education, you can complete a master's degree program. Statistics, medical nutrition treatment, molecular biology, public politics, and health concerns are frequently covered in class.

If you want to pursue a doctorate in nutrition, you can enroll in graduate-level nutrition, chemistry, and biology courses, as well as advanced nutrition and research applications. In addition, you must conduct fieldwork and write a dissertation.

Gain experience

You should complete an internship throughout your undergraduate program or shortly after graduation to get hands-on experience and networking benefits. The majority of certificates need prior experience. You should accomplish between 500 and 1200 hours of practice in a nutrition-related setting, depending on your goals.

Learn about state requirements

The criteria for nutritionist certification and license vary by state. Nutritionists must get certification in certain states to practice lawfully, but it is not required in others.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics' Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) maintains a list of states that do not need formal certification, license, or occupational regulation for nutritionists. Find out what is required in your region.

Even in states where dietitians are not required to be licensed, some companies prefer to use qualified nutritionists. The requirements differ depending on the sort of nutritionist you wish to be.

Obtain a nutritionist certification

You should become qualified and registered with a nationally recognized organization to boost your job prospects. The following are some of the most common nutritionist certifications:

Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS)

A Master's Degree in Nutrition or a related subject, at least 1,000 hours of practical experience, and a passing grade on the Certification Board for Nutrition Specialists' nutritionist certification boards are required to achieve this certification (CBNS).

Clinical Nutritionist

You'll need a Bachelor's or Master's degree in Clinical Nutrition, as well as extra courses in herbology, nutrition and aging, and nutrition, to get this certification. Then, pass the Clinical Nutrition Certification Board's examination (CNCB).

Certified Health Coach

A Bachelor's Degree in Nutrition is required, as well as a passing score on an examination administered by a certifying organization such as the American Council on Exercise (ACE) or the National Society of Health Coaches (NSHC).

Certified Sports Nutritionist

A Bachelor's Degree in Nutrition and a passing score on the Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD) test are required for this certification.

how to become a nutritionist

Certified Holistic Nutritionist

To obtain these credentials, you must finish a course recognized by the National Association of Nutrition Professionals, accumulate 500 hours of practical experience, and pass the Holistic Nutrition Credentialing Board's certification test.

Get certified

You must graduate from a bachelor's degree program approved by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and complete a minimum of 1,200 hours of supervised experience at an accredited community agency, healthcare facility, or foodservice corporation to receive Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) or Registered Dietitian (RD) credentials, which are administered by the CDR. The Commission on Dietetic Registration then requires you to pass a national test.

Maintain your certification

To keep their board certification, registered dietitians must complete continuing professional education requirements each year. Certified clinical nutritionists, for example, must complete 40 hours of continuing education every two years.

Every five years, they must also complete a recertification exam. RD's must develop a learning strategy and keep track of their progress in an activity journal. In addition, throughout their first five years of practice, they must complete a professional growth review.

Common questions

Here are some of the most often asked questions regarding working as a nutritionist:

Can I be a nutritionist without a degree?

The criteria for working as a nutritionist differ by state. Even in places where a degree or certification is not required, businesses prefer to recruit individuals who have legitimate certifications from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) or the Clinical Nutrition Certification Board (CNCB).

Can a nutritionist turn into a dietitian?

The route of becoming a dietitian differs somewhat from that of becoming a nutritionist. To become a dietitian, you must have a bachelor's degree authorized by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 1200 hours of experience, and a passing score on the Commission on Dietetic Registration's national test.

Is the nutritionist job in high demand?

Dietitians and nutritionists are anticipated to expand 11% between 2018 and 2028, faster than the average for all occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

how to become a nutritionist

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