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How to Become a Nutritionist in 6 Easy Steps
If you’re one of those aspiring nutritionists, the six smart tips below can help you get started.
1. Do your homework
Do you have what it takes to become a nutritionist? If you care about other people’s needs, and you love helping them live a healthy life, then becoming a nutritionist is a great career to look into.
Once you decide that this is the path you want to take, you need to be well-prepared and do your research by choosing the type of food service you want to be and looking for job opportunities in your area, food salary expectations and educational requirements.
2. Fulfilling academic requirements
To become a dietitian, you will need to earn a bachelor’s degree in dietetics, food and nutrition, or food management, or a related field. The curriculum you will take includes courses not only in food and nutrition but also in physiology, biology, and chemistry.
The bachelor’s degree program in nutrition will include an internship program to prepare dietitians to become members of the ADA or American Dietetic Association, and to qualify for certification exams as dietitians or registered dietitians.
The training period for nutritionists usually lasts between six and twelve months after graduation.
Check with your local college or university about available programs. There are over 280 ADA-accredited bachelor’s degree programs in the United States, so finding the best program that fits your needs shouldn’t be a problem.
For people who already have a full-time job but want to become a nutritionist, or who have a busy schedule, the best option for you is to enroll in an online school that offers accredited bachelor’s degree programs.
3. Pass the certification/license exam
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 35 states require nutritionists and nutritionists to be licensed. Many states require certification from nutritionists. Some only ask for government registration. But there are also a few that have no state laws at all.
With this, be sure to contact your state for registration requirements, or you can check the official state website for more information.
However, passing the licensing exam is a smart decision if you want to add value to your resume, and get higher wages and other employee benefits. A nutritionist’s style lets employers know that you are at the top of your game and that you have fresh ideas about nutrition.
Once you become a licensed dietitian or registered dietitian, you must maintain that designation by completing at least 75 hours of ADA-approved continuing education every 5 years.
4. Get your first catering job
Once you’ve completed all the educational requirements and passed the licensing exam, you’re ready to get your first food service job. To give you an idea of what to expect from prospective employers, here are some of the key criteria they look for in job candidates:
- High level of self-direction and motivation to work independently
- Comprehensive knowledge of medicine, drugs, treatment options, chronic disease, and effective nutritional response
- Extensive knowledge and training in nutrition, food management, and cost control
- Ability to communicate effectively with physicians, patients, and hospital staff
5. Get a master’s degree
If you like to do more research in the field of nutrition, and develop your skills, getting a master’s degree in nutrition is a good option to consider. You can achieve this goal by going to classes and finding other schools while you work.
6. Consider private activities
Opening your own private practice is another great way to get a good and financially rewarding career. If you want to go this route, you’ll need to get your employer’s identification number from the IRS, and register your business with the secretary of state and the state’s tax department. You may also be required to obtain a business license.
After meeting the requirements, contact the health insurance companies in your area and talk to their health departments.
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