Basics of how to become a Nutritionist
In this day and age, with people more and more concerned about their diet and health, the demand for nutritionists is high. Becoming one, however, requires a fair bit of training.
The first decision on the road needs to be what level of education you want to obtain. The best, of course, is a bachelor’s degree in nutrition. These can be obtained from a number of accredited colleges and universities. Shorter courses include associate’s degrees and basic certificates. It is also possible to continue to graduate study in the field.
When considering how to become a nutritionist, you need to think of the basic knowledge needed for the field. Training crosses over biology, chemistry and biochemistry as well as anatomy and physiology. A lot of hands-on training is needed, and expect to spend some time in the classroom and some time in the field. Although courses can be taken either in physical classrooms or online, internships are obviously face to face. Students work with existing qualified nutritionists on real cases and patients.
Individuals seeking to become a nutritionist must also meet the certification requirements for the state in which they intend to practice. For example, New York requires a bachelor’s or associate’s degree, and has extra requirements with the latter, making a simple certification course insufficient for that state. Requirements vary considerably, but obtaining a bachelor’s degree in nutrition or with heavy coursework in it will cover most of the qualification requirements for any given state.
There is much more to learn about how to become a nutritionist, however. Once certification is obtained, the budding nutritionist will find they have many job opportunities. However, the basic entry level positions, as in all fields, are simple and low paid. Sometimes, they can be hard to find, and the student may be obliged to take a low paid or unpaid intern position. Part of how to become a nutritionist is to build the experience needed to obtain a better position. It also pays to specialize and work towards a niche. For example, some nutritionists work in hospitals with the sick and injured. Others are employed by hospices and nursing homes to handle the special needs of the elderly.
Sports nutritionists help athletes gain optimum performance, either as freelancers or working for a sports team or a gym. Others may work at schools, helping children obtain the optimum diet for growth and health from their school lunches.
Nutritionists may be consulted by chiropractors and physical therapists as well as family doctors. An experienced nutritionist may choose to set up as a freelancer, forming their own independent practice either alone or with a partner. In this case, they will also need to learn business and marketing skills, or find the money in their budget to pay an expert in these areas.
Becoming a nutritionist, therefore, is a combination of formal education and experience. Education alone cannot give an individual the feel they need to treat each and every patient or client as an individual.