The title of nutritionist is a general term for people who are experts in the field of nutrition and health, whether they are registered by an accredited body or not.
In other words, this term is not a legally-protected title. It can be used quite loosely, which means how long it takes to become a nutritionist varies depending on the title, which well look at first.
There are nationally recognized titles for practitioners of nutrition and these include the following: Registered Dietitian (RD), Registered Dietetic Technician (DTR), Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS), and Certified Clinical Nutritionist (CCN).
How many years of college does it take to become a nutritionist?
To become an RD, you will need between 4 and 5 years. That should cover the years required to complete the bachelor’s degree, the internship, and the national exam under CDR.
To become a DTR, you will need between 2 and 5 years, depending on whether you took the associate’s degree coursework or the bachelor’s degree. A national exam will also be required and the same will be administered by the CDR.
To become a CCN, you will need between 5 and 6 years to complete a bachelor’s degree, internship, a post-graduate program in human nutrition, and pass a national board exam administered by the CNCB.
To become a CNS, it will take between 6 and 9 years to complete the bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or doctorate, the number of hours of experience required, and pass the exam given by the CBNS.
Nutritionists hold the jobs of clinical dietitian and nutritionist, community dietitian and nutritionist, and management dietitian, depending on where they work and what specific responsibilities they have.
How do you become a nutritionist?
1. Obtain a bachelor’s degree.
Most nutritionists and dietitians possess a bachelor’s degree in foods and nutrition, clinical nutrition, food service systems management, dietetics, or a related field.
Many dietitians and nutritionists also possess advanced degrees. A minimum of a master’s degree is required for those who aspire to become Certified Nutrition Specialists or Certified Clinical Nutritionists.
2. Complete relevant training.
Most schools require nutritionists and dietitians to undergo a 1-year internship of supervised training following their completion of a bachelor’s degree; while other schools include the supervised training in their coursework.
Refer to the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) or its website for the accredited programs and schools.
3. Obtain the applicable license, certification, and/or registration.
Requirements for state licensure, certification, and/or registration vary by state. While most states require nutritionists to be licensed, others only require state registration or certification, and even some have no particular regulations for this profession.
You may opt to become an RD by obtaining registration from the Commission on Dietetics Registration (CDR) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND). This requires a bachelor’s degree accredited by the ACEND and passing a national exam.
The same registering body also grants the title of Registered Dietetic Technician (DTR) to graduates of an associate or bachelor’s degrees accredited by ACEND. A national exam administered by the CDR must also be hurdled.
Other certifications require higher education, special training, and examination. These are the following:
- Certified Clinical Nutritionist (CCN) which is granted by the Clinical Nutrition Certification Board (CNCB), and
- Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS) credential which is granted by the Certification Board for Nutrition Specialists (CBNS)
- CCN applicants must have completed a bachelor’s degree, specified hours of internship, and a post-graduate program or master’s degree in human nutrition with focus on how the human body reacts biochemically with food, to be qualified to take the national board exam given by the CNCB.
CNS requires applicants to have a master’s or doctoral degree and 1,000 hours of experience to qualify for the CNS examination.
Nutritionists may, likewise, pursue additional certifications in such areas of specialty as pediatric nutrition or sports.
What is it like working as a nutritionist?
Clinical dietitians and nutritionists typically work in health care and medical facilities to assess patients’ needs and create nutritional programs for them as part of the medical therapy for their health condition.
Sometimes, they specialize and train exclusively to manage the diet of patients with a specific disorder, such as diabetic patients or patients with renal malfunction.
Community dietitians and nutritionists work in government offices, public health clinics, and health organizations to counsel the public on proper nutrition and educate particular groups in the community, such as teenagers, senior citizens, or women.
Management dietitians work in large institutions, such as school canteens, hospitals, nursing homes and prisons to plan, budget and manage meals. They may oversee other personnel, the kitchen staff and service crew.
Nutritionists do not only plan the diet of patients. They also help evaluate the effect of given diets to the patients’ progress. They render reports and recommendations.
In 2012, about 11% of nutritionists and dietitians chose to work as private practitioners or as consultants.
They see patients and provide customized guidance on their food and eating habits. Many of them work part-time and have more flexibility in their balancing careers and personal lives.
How much do nutritionists earn?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the annual wage for nutritionists and dietitians, who worked in cafeterias, schools, nursing homes, and hospitals as of May 2012, was $55,240 or roughly $26.56 per hour.
Of this, the lowest 10% earned less than $34,500, and the top 10% earned more than $77,590.
While most nutritionists worked on full-time basis in 2012 1 out of 5 worked part-time the self-employed ones enjoy more leeway with their timetables working with their clients through evenings and weekends.
Some of the high-paying states were Maryland, California, and Nevada, with annual mean wages of $82,650, $71,840, and $68,700, respectively.
What prospects lay ahead for nutritionists?
Employment forecast appears to be upbeat with projected growth of 21% from 2012 to 2022. In 2012 alone, nutritionists occupied over 67,400 jobs across the country.
Definitely, food plays a vital role in preventing and curing illnesses, such that nutritionists will be in high demand in the health care industry.
I hope this answers your question about how long does it take to become a nutritionist.