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What Are the Steps to Become a Nutritionist?

A collection of fresh produce

If you want to work in the healthcare field, consider pursuing a nutritionist career. These individuals help clients create customized meal plans, whether for general health and well-being, weight loss, or another nutrition-related goal. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that nutritionists earned a median annual salary of $59,410 in 2017. This career is projected by the BLS to increase by 15 percent by 2026, resulting in almost 10,000 new jobs. These are the required steps if you're interested in this in-demand field.

Complete a Bachelor's Degree

To enter the field, you'll need to complete a four-year bachelor's degree in nutrition, dietetics, exercise science, or a related area. For example, the Tulane School of Professional Advancement offers a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science, which prepares students to promote healthy lifestyles in a clinical health care setting. Many bachelor's degree programs require the completion of either an internship or independent research to foster clinical experience in the field.

Complete a Master's Degree

Although it's possible to work as a nutritionist without a master's degree, many employers prefer candidates with advanced education and experience. Most graduate programs in nutrition can be completed in less than two years and may include a clinical rotation or research component to better prepare you for your role. The Master of Professional Studies in Health and Wellness Management at SoPA prepares students for the nutrition field with courses on leadership, ethics, business, health and wellness programming, research, and related topics, along with a three-hour required internship.

Become State Licensed

Certification requirements for nutritionists vary based on the state where you plan to practice. In Louisiana, for example, those in this profession must be licensed by the Louisiana Board of Examiners in Dietetics and Nutrition. To earn the state's Licensed Dietician-Nutritionist (LDN) credential, you must complete a bachelor's degree including at least 24 credit hours in nutrition education, complete 900 hours of supervised work experience such as an internship, and pass a licensing exam. Currently, 35 states require a license for individuals providing nutrition advice.

Seek Credentials

In addition to your state license, you can seek registration from industry organizations. The American Dietetic Association's Commission on Dietetic Registration offers several credentials depending on education and years of experience, including RD (Registered Dietician), RDN (Registered Dietician Nutritionist), and CNS (Certified Nutrition Specialist).

If you're interested in the Master of Professional Studies in Health and Wellness Management program at Tulane's School of Professional Advancement, contact us today to request more information or apply online.

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