With a large emphasis on nutrition and healthy eating today, many people wonder about the job outlook for nutritionists. Nutritionists are trained and educated professionals who use their knowledge of food and nutrition to promote healthy eating and maintain good health. The job outlook for nutritionists is very good, and nutritionists continue to be in demand in various settings. Learn more about nutritionists, including what they do, where they work, how to become one and what they can expect in terms of career and job outlook.
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What a Nutritionist Does
Nutritionists are professionals who specialize in nutrition, food, and healthy eating. They educate clients on nutrition, nutritional requirements and how to improve eating habits, whether it’s to help with a chronic health condition or to lose weight. Some nutritionists and dieticians also work with low-income individuals who need assistance in learning how to eat with limited funds. Nutritionists also create and oversee nutrition programs to use in medical facilities and schools.
Nutritionists and dieticians play an important role in helping clients manage health issues, control diseases and maintain an ideal weight. Some nutritionists perform research to help them determine where their services are best utilized. Nutritionists also speak to large groups to promote healthier eating, educate them on how to maintain good eating habits and provide resources on where they can find help with nutrition problems.
How to Become a Nutritionist
Becoming a nutritionist generally requires a bachelor’s degree in dietetics, although students may also major in public health nutrition; foods and nutrition; clinical nutrition or a similar field. Students complete courses in nutrition, biology, food service systems management, chemistry, and psychology. In addition to coursework, aspiring nutritionists must complete internships, which may consist of several hundreds of hours of training under the supervision of a licensed nutritionist.
Some colleges require the student to complete the internship after graduation, while others offer students the opportunity to complete internships as part of their coursework. Nutritionists are required to be licensed in many of the states. They may be required to be certified or registered in states where licensure is not required. The Commission on Dietetic Registration offers the Registered Dietician Nutritionist credential.
To earn the RDN credential, candidates must have earned at least a bachelor’s degree, completed at least 1,200 hours of practical experience and passed the certification exam. To maintain the RDN certification, the nutritionist must complete continuing education classes every five years. Nutritionists who complete advanced degrees in nutrition often choose to earn the Certified Nutrition Specialist credential.
Job Outlook for Nutritionists
U.S. News & World Report ranks nutritionist No. 25 among Best Health Care Jobs and No. 68 among 100 Best Jobs. Hospitals are where the majority of nutritionists are employed. As of 2018, about 18,540 nutritionists were employed in general medical and surgical hospitals, while 6,460 nutritionists were employed in outpatient care centers according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Nutritionists are expected to see a job growth of 11 percent during the decade of 2018 and 2028 according to the bureau.
The rising rate of obesity and the importance of improved nutrition to reduce health problems both contribute to job growth and demand for qualified nutritionists. As of May 2018, nutritionists earned an annual average wage of $61,210 with wages ranging from $38,460 to $84,610. Wages can be affected by various factors including employer, education and training, location and work experience. The states where the highest wages are earned by nutritionists are California, Alaska, Connecticut, Hawaii, and New Jersey.
Working as a nutritionist can be very rewarding because it gives the individual the opportunity to educate others on healthier eating, which can be beneficial to those with weight issues and health concerns due to poor nutrition. It’s also a career that offers a good job outlook, which can be a driving force in choosing this career.