What Degree Do You Need to Be a Nutritionist?

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What Degree Do You Need to Be a Nutritionist?

Nutritionists provide dietary advice to their clients. Become a nutritionist if you are interested in dietetics, food science, or assisting people in becoming healthier. A nutritionist is a specialist in the field of food and nutrition. Nutritionists provide dietary advice to help people live a healthier lifestyle and manage ailments. They can also assist people in achieving a certain health goal. 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 individually 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.

Salary Average

A nutritionist’s average annual pay 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. Nutritionists made a median annual wage of $63,090 in 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nutritionists received an hourly wage of $30.33 on average, according to the government.

What Are the Steps to Becoming a Nutritionist?

While the processes for becoming a nutritionist vary based on your chosen job route, the following are the most typical and consistent:

Choose Between Becoming a Nutritionist or a Licensed 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 several differences that may impact your career choice:


Nutritionists are in charge of overall nutritional goals and habits. Dietitians are trained to identify and treat a variety of medical diseases, including eating disorders.

Requirements of Law

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

Recognize the Title

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 in a Health-Related Discipline

Complete a Bachelor’s Degree in Health, Nutrition, or a related discipline such as dietetics or food service system management after you’ve decided on a career route. Popular degrees among nutritionists are Bachelor of Science in Nutrition or Health Care Administration Leadership, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in General Studies with an emphasis in health care. A Bachelor’s Degree in Clinical Nutrition is required to work as a clinical nutritionist. Advanced biochemistry, research, 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 needs of the entire public. If you want to become a registered dietitian, choose a bachelor’s degree that has been accredited by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics.

Earn a Master’s or Doctoral Degree in Nutrition to Further Your Studies

Although advanced degrees are not required to work as a nutritionist, they can lead to roles 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 schooling, you can complete a master’s degree program. Statistics, medical nutrition therapy, molecular biology, public policy, and health issues 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.

Participate in an Internship to Gain Experience

You should complete an internship throughout your undergraduate program or shortly after graduation to obtain hands-on experience and networking benefits. The majority of certifications require prior experience. You should accomplish between 500 and 1,200 hours of practice in a nutrition-related environment, depending on your goals.

Research the Certification Criteria in Your State

The standards for nutritionist certification and licensing vary by state. Nutritionists must receive certification in some states to work 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 require formal certification, license, or occupational regulation for nutritionists. Find out what is required in your area. Even in states where dietitians are not required to be licensed, some businesses prefer to use qualified nutritionists. The requirements differ depending on the type of nutritionist you wish to be.

Get a Nutritionist Certification from a Reputable Organization

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

A Specialist in Nutrition Certification (CNS)

A Master’s Degree in Nutrition or a related discipline, 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 earn this certification (CBNS).


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

Health Coach Certification

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).

Sports Nutritionist With a Certification

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.

Holistic Nutritionist Certification

To obtain these credentials, you must complete a course authorized by the National Association of Nutrition Professionals, accumulate 500 hours of practical experience, and pass the Holistic Nutrition Credentialing Board’s certification exam.

Get Your RDN (Registered Dietitian Nutritionist) Certification

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 food service 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 exam.

Keep Your Certification, Current

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. RDs must develop a learning strategy and keep track of their progress in an activity diary. In addition, throughout their first five years of practice, they must complete a professional growth evaluation.

Is a Position as a Nutritionist in High Demand?

Dietitians and nutritionists are predicted to rise by 11 percent between 2018 and 2028, faster than the average for all occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

State-by-State Requirements for Registered Dietitians

Obtaining the necessary education and experience through recognized, accredited programs are required to become a registered dietitian. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) oversees the practice of registered dietitians across the country. In addition to the criteria for RD qualifications, each state may have its own certification and censurer requirements.

Nutritionists Have a Bright Future Ahead of Them.


They are experts in the field of food and how it affects your health. They specialize in assisting individuals in leading healthy lifestyles through the use of food. $63,090 is the average salary.


Dietitians are nutrition experts who can advise patients on how to eat for good health. $63,090 is the average salary.

Sports Nutritionists

They specialize in assisting athletes with inadequately fueling their bodies and customizing diets for active patients. $53,439 is the average pay.

Health Educators

They are trained to teach individuals how to live a healthy lifestyle and how to properly use food to care for their bodies. $65,737 is the average pay.

Food Scientists

They analyze what everything is comprised of and how it impacts bodies and the environment, utilizing microbiology, engineering, and other comparable skill sets. $62,680 is the average pay.

What Is the Role of a Nutritionist?

Individuals or groups of people are usually taught more about general nutrition, diets, and health by nutritionists. Their main focus is on eating habits. This includes collaborating with clients to develop and implement meal plans that improve the nutrition of the individual or family. Nutritionists can work in a variety of settings, including:

  • Hospitals, nursing homes, long-term care institutions, and clinics are examples of clinical settings.
  • Local health departments, for example, are employed by the government.
  • School districts, in order to advance public policy on nutrition guidelines and labeling in schools.
  • They would work in private institutions, both individually and with other medical professionals.
  • Whether it’s in a research context or with a sports organization,

Types of Nutritionist

While you can be classified as a general nutritionist, you can also specialize in a particular component of nutrition, such as:

Sports Nutrition

It focuses on athletes’ nutrition to help them perform at their best and nourish their bodies for a high level of activity.

Holistic Nutrition

This is the use of natural foods and therapies to treat people who are suffering from a certain sickness or condition.

Oncology Nutrition

This is the practice of specializing in nutrition for cancer patients in order to ensure that their bodies receive the proper nutrients while undergoing treatment.

Pediatric Nutrition

It focuses on children’s nutritional needs.

Registered Nutrition

These nutrition specialists have met the qualifications set by the field’s regulating body, allowing them to provide nutrition and health advice at a higher level than nutritionists.

Educational Requirements

A master’s degree in nutrition or related subjects is the greatest education. While there are various ways to become a nutritionist, you must first have the necessary training. You should get a Master’s degree in nutritional science if you want to work as a nutrient consultant. This degree emphasizes holistic nutrition and public health, but it can also lead to research and advocacy positions. You’ll also need to conduct nutritional assessments as a nutritionist to identify what dietary modifications are required for each patient. In a two-year dietetics degree, you’ll learn how to conduct such assessments. You can also seek postgraduate education if you’re serious about becoming a nutritionist. Many schools and universities offer a master’s degree in nutrition. You can also work in research, public health administration, and higher education if you have a Ph.D. degree. If you wish to work as a nutritionist, you’ll need a master’s degree in nutrition. It enables you to provide health care and act as a consultant to patients.

As a professional, you must be able to make informed decisions. This necessitates a thorough grasp of human physiology as well as a desire for evidence-based medicine. A nutritionist can be trained in a variety of methods. As a professional, you must be able to make informed decisions. This necessitates a thorough grasp of human physiology, as well as a desire for evidence-based medicine. A nutritionist can be trained in a variety of methods. A doctorate in nutrition can prepare you for a variety of jobs. You can teach classes, perform research, or consult with a nutritionist, depending on where you choose to work. Working as a clinical assistant at a hospital or clinic is another option. You must be educated in nutrition and health to work as a nutritionist. You’ll also need to complete a doctoral internship in addition to your degree.

The 5 Steps to Success

  • Obtain a verification statement from an ACEND-accredited program after completing a bachelor’s degree (Didactic Program in Dietetics, Coordinated Program, Future Graduate Program, Foreign or International Dietitian Education Program).
  • Both the Individual Supervised Practice Pathway, and an ACEND-accredited supervised practice dietetic internship program are options. The Coordinated Program, Future Graduate Program, and International Dietitian Education Program are all integrated with supervised practice/experiential learning.
  • Pass the dietetic registration exam given by the Commission on Dietetic Registration.
  • If applicable, obtain licensing in your state of practice.
  • Maintain a steady stream of learning.


You’ll need to be able to make informed decisions as a nutritionist depending on your patients’ needs. When making dietary recommendations, take into account the patient’s physical state and mental attitude. To promote your firm, you’ll need to know how to develop a marketing strategy. Referrals are vital if you want your clients to recommend you. A science-heavy academic load and many hours of patient care are required to become a registered dietitian nutritionist. Research, working with children, and even joining the military are all options.

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