What Does a Nutrition Specialist Do?
Professionals in this field should have a strong background of knowledge in nutrition, diet and metabolism. While working in the field, a nutrition specialist can sit with clients, analyze their current diet in comparison to their current state of health and provide insight and advice on how to plan for dietary changes.
Dietary plans created by nutrition specialists may include a balanced set of nutrients that can assist in providing maximum energy, regeneration and support to clients in need. The diet plan for clients that see nutrition specialists may have detailed instructions for choosing the right foods, healthy meal preparation and frequency charts for meal consumption.
As a supplement to a dietary plan, clients of nutrition specialists may also be given a detailed exercise plan to implement into their lifestyle.
How do I become a Nutrition Specialist?
Prospective students of nutrition that wish to pursue careers as nutrition specialists should be aware of the steps it can take to work in this field. There may be a few components required that include the need for pre-planning, so it is important for individuals to be aware of lies ahead of them before choosing this career field.
Depending on the type of work you plan to do, certification and licensure may also be required prior to obtaining careers as a nutrition specialist. You are encouraged to review the specific requirements of your state prior to enrolling in a degree program in this field.
The first step to becoming a nutrition specialist is finding a bachelor’s program that meets your licensure needs. The most commonly chosen degree program for new entrants into the field is a Bachelor’s in Nutrition, while other degree majors may include Food Science, Health and Dietetics.
Each of these degree programs can assist students in gaining the skills necessary to provide assistance to clients wishing to improve their health through diet, exercise and moderation. During this degree program, students may take courses related to general human health, anatomy and physiology. Most bachelor’s programs can take around 4 years to complete for most students.
The completion of a bachelor’s program can be the biggest step for future professionals in this field. After graduation, most students may have the knowledge required to create nutrition-based health plans, but not the actual hands-on experience.
This may be the reason why most states have implemented a supervised work experience requirement for graduates to take part in. This experience may include working directly under the supervision of a licensed nutritionist or dietician, gaining 900 supervised hours of training, on average.
This experience can help upcoming nutrition specialists visualize the process of analyzing and providing nutrition plans to clients, so that they may be more effective when starting a career in the field. This experience can take up to a year to complete for people working full-time.
After the completion of the supervised work experience requirement, there may be 1 more additional step on your journey to licensure. As with a lot of health-related professionals seeking licensure, nutrition specialists may also be required to take and successfully pass a state examination in diet and nutrition science.
This examination may include aspects of the college curriculum and supervised work experience, which makes both experiences very important for upcoming professionals. After completing this test, students can be eligible for pursuing their license as a nutrition specialist.
Programs to Consider
The Bachelor’s in Nutrition can be a great degree option for students that yearn to become nutrition specialists. This degree program can be found at a large number of universities all over the country, including those in an online setting.
If you are interested in being a part of this incredibly influential field, you should check out degree programs that are open for enrollment within your area. In order to make your search a little easier, our team of educational experts has reviewed some of the programs available throughout the U.S. and spotlighted on the coming sections.
Arizona State University currently offers an online Bachelor of Science in Nutrition for upcoming students. This standard bachelor’s program can be a great program for students interested in learning more about food production, health and wellness. The entire program consists of 40 classes that can be completed in around 4 years for most students. The program requires that students complete 120 credit hours in order to graduate, which is standard for a bachelor’s level program. Some of the most in-depth topics found within this program may include those relating nutrition with overall health, specific diseases and the prolonging of life.
The benefits of pursuing your degree through on online university can include pursuing degree programs in other states. If you are currently working in the field and are looking for degree programs to help advance you to higher positions, enrolling in one of these programs could assist you in that goal.
Online degree programs can offer flexibility and convenience for learners, which can be a tool for success for current professionals in the field. Read more below to learn more about what can be included in these programs.
Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition Specialist Example Courses
The courses you take during your degree program can help to shape your understanding of the subject matter and provide you with more insight into how your field operates. Depending on the university you choose, you may find that the courses involved can vary, but still touch on very similar subjects as other programs.
In order to provide you with a little more information regarding these programs, our team has listed some of the common courses found within the BS in Nutrition program. Read through these courses to learn more about the topics that nutrition students can learn throughout their program.
Intro to Nutrition
At the onset of a degree program focusing on nutrition, students may take courses that include introductory topics and discussions about this field. Intro to Nutrition is a foundation course that can help students better understand the role of nutrition in overall health and help students become more familiar with some of the common terms and references used in the field. Some specific topics that may be discussed in this course may include digestion, nutrient absorption and the function of nutrients in the body. Overall human health and specific diseases may be spotlighted in this course, in order to give learners a better perspective on how nutrition can influence each of these factors.
One of the central elements to education surrounding nutrition is within food science. This topic in nutrition degree programs can provide students with focus into the nutritional aspects of food, how society views food and the many different methods currently used to provide food sources to U.S. residents. Students can learn about the different food production methods that can play a role in nutrition, as well as read on some controversy surrounding food production in recent years. This course can touch on topics related to the actual composition of food, nutrient consistency, food additives and food processing. Each of these topics can be important to professionals tasked with meal planning and nutrition advising in the field.
Nutrition in the Life Cycle
Nutrition can truly be a life-changing consideration for people from various walks of life. Food is a vital resource to humanity, so studies and knowledge pertaining to this subject can be increasingly important to people interested in living long and fruitful lives. This course can help students learn more about nutrition plays a role in the human life cycle. Some topics that may be included in this course are nutrition needs during pregnancy, early childhood development and nutritional needs, health in the aging population and consequences of the lack of nutrition during the life cycle. Students may have the opportunity to research foreign cultures throughout this course to gain more educated perspectives on this area of thought.
What can I Potentially Earn as a Nutrition Specialist?
Making a career choice can be a very big decision for upcoming college students. There are many factors that can come into play when making such as life-changing decision, such as the length of time it will take you to complete your goal, the work required to get there and the benefits of meeting your mark.
The salary expectations of nutrition specialists can be very different depending on the type of work you plan to do, the communities you plan to influence and your role within your chosen area. The salary figures below are actual estimates from real people working in the field of nutrition. Take a look at some of the average salaries for professionals working as nutrition specialists.
- Nutritionists and Dieticians: $59,410 on average per year (BLS).
- Health Educators and Community Health Workers: $45,360 on average per year (BLS).
Unique Career Options for Nutrition Specialists
Nutrition can be a very important aspect of the lives of all people. However, in specialized groups, the nutritional needs for sustaining weight and remaining healthy may be very different depending on a client’s level of activity. In the fields of college and professional sports, nutritionists may be needed to assist with assessing and planning for the needs of athletes. This can include gathering information about the level of activity of professionals and providing meal plans that can provide them with optimum energy and performance.
Patients that have been diagnosed with cancer may also require specialized assistance from nutritionists. The treatment protocol for patients with cancer can vary depending on the type of and severity of cancer within different people. Nutrition specialists can assist with providing detailed nutrition plans to help clients meet their nutritional goals and accommodate for the need of additional nutrients during cancer treatment processes. Professionals in this field can work in hospitals or specialty clinics assigned to working with people with cancer.
Food Labeling Specialist
There are certain government regulations about what should be included on food labels. The nutrition information provided to consumers may have been implemented in an effort to help people make better decisions about the foods that they eat, making accuracy a huge focus for nutrition specialists. Professionals that choose to work as food labeling specialists can work to help companies provide an accurate depiction of nutritional information on their products so that they meet the requirements set forth for them to abide by.
Whether working independently or with large organizations, wellness consultant can provide an important services to their clients. These professionals can step in when requested to provide specialized and tailored programs for the groups or individuals they serve. This can include providing an analysis of current wellness, suggestions for change and follow-up services during and after the process. Professionals may choose this route if they are looking for flexible and unique opportunities in nutrition.
Food Safety Auditor
Since food is the most functional asset to nutrition, professionals may be needed to assess their reliability and safety within the general public. Professionals that have an in-depth knowledge of food processing methods and general nutrition can play a role in auditing food production methods and testing foods for overall safety.