Nutritionist career opportunities are expanding with society’s increased desire to become healthier and fight chronic problems such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension. A growing number of people are developing illnesses and health complications that can be remedied and lessened by maintaining a healthy diet and getting enough exercise. As a result of this increase in interest, the nutritionist salary and career options are increasing as well.
In most cases, a nutritionist salary is earned through providing advice about implementing healthy eating habits, incorporating physical fitness into one’s life, preparing food in better ways so as to preserve its nutritional value, and performing diet assessments. Nutritionists work to create positive plans for patients that affect their everyday health and prevent disease and illness. Proper diet and nutrition can fight many health problems and reduce the threat of serious conditions in later life. Additionally, nutritionists study how the body metabolizes food and how it can receive the most benefit from various diets.
A nutritionist’s salary is often increased if the nutritionist graduated from an accredited university, college, or program. Through surveys and research, the U.S. Labor Bureau of Statistics learned that the more education and the better quality it is that a student receives, the higher the salary of the nutritionist usually is when he or she becomes registered and licensed. Additionally, attendance at accredited universities ensures that a nutritionist gets an education that is more helpful in earning a license. Furthermore, students who attend accredited programs are eligible for federal student financial aid. Students who receive an education from non-accredited programs are not eligible for aid.
Adhering to a standard curriculum will ensure success as a nutritionist. However, specializing beyond the basics may cause a nutritionist’s salary to increase in the future, once a dietitian becomes licensed and begins practicing. General curriculum requirements include courses in foods, chemistry, biology, biochemistry, institution management, physiology, sociology, microbiology, computer science, business, economics, mathematics, dietetics, psychology, and fitness. Other specialties might include geriatric or pediatric nutrition, nutritional immunology, or advanced nutritional science. Students may receive insight to counseling practices and evaluation tools. Hands-on clinical experience is often a part of curriculums in many programs.
Becoming registered by the American Dietetic Association also boosts the salary for a nutritionist. To become registered, dietitians must receive an education from an accredited program or university. Additionally, they must meet standard guidelines set forth by the ADA. Finally, nutritionists must pass the national certification examination in order to be credentialed as a registered dietitian. Registered dietitians receive higher salaries and have more career opportunities as a result of their expertise.
Additionally, in order to practice their profession, dietitians must become licensed in many states in the U.S.—over 30 states require licensing in order to practice. (Of course, a dietitian who is licensed receives a higher nutritionist salary!) Some states require certification and others simply mandate registration. Some states require education standards, while others have stricter guidelines and dietitians must pass national and state examinations. Other guidelines include clean criminal background checks, excellent references from previous instructors, and clinical tests.
Several career options exist for nutritionists who become registered and licensed. Many choose to go into clinical or management dietitian work, such as creating menus and food plans for large institutions,including hospitals, nursing care centers, prisons, schools, and other cafeteria-based locations.
Community dietitians counsel groups and individuals about healthy habits and work in home health agencies, health clinics, and HMOs. Others work as consultants and meet with patients in order to develop nutrition plans to help them achieve health goals, such as weight loss, decreased cholesterol levels, or improved blood pressure. Each of these levels of nutritionist careers allows for room for advancement, which means a dietitian receives a higher nutritionist salary. The median salary in 2009, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, is $52,150.