Although people often use the terms dietitian and nutritionist interchangeably, distinctions between them can be found in the requirements for each type of career. A nutritionist is someone who has studied nutrition and typically holds a degree from an accredited institution.
Since there are no regulatory requirements that mandate certification or licensure in the state, becoming a nutritionist in Arizona and establishing a strong reputation starts with earning the right degree and gaining experience.
Without the burden of state regulations, nutritionists in Arizona are free to pursue an education appropriate to the level of service they would like to offer and to meet the expectations of employers. This means that nutritionists in the state may hold everything from an undergraduate certificate or associate’s degree, to a graduate degree or even a doctorate. Typical coursework covers how nutrients are processed in the body and the influence various nutrients have on health.
Food affects almost every aspect of life, so opportunities abound for nutritionists in Arizona to work in specialty areas that are of particular interest to them. This may include working in public health organizations and schools, hospitals, health and fitness facilities, and even private practice.
Nutritionists may be found in the public sector working for an organization like the Arizona Public Health Department, which employs a fulltime Nutrition and Physical Activity Programs Supervisor, or they may work for the Arizona Department of Education as a Nutrition Program Specialist.
Those interested in working within Arizona’s healthcare industry may join the dietetic tech staff at Banner Health facilities, or they may fill diet tech jobs with Santé, a major senior housing and post-acute healthcare provider with several facilities throughout Arizona.
Nutritionists also play a role in serving clients in health clubs and fitness facilities, where they work with clients who are attempting to attain better health through exercise and better food choices. In fact, the popular Lifetime Fitness Clubs of Arizona employ nutrition coaches to provide members with one-on-one consultations.
Working with athletes in structured athletic programs, such as college or professional sports teams, is also a growing area of expertise among nutrition services providers in Arizona.
Many of the largest healthcare providers in Arizona also employ nutritionists to serve the needs of patients. Among these are:
Some healthcare providers such as advanced practice nurses, physicians, and osteopaths complete extra courses of study in nutrition so that they can advise patients on healthy food choices.
According to an Arizona Office of Employment and Population Statistics report, the number of jobs for healthcare practitioners, including nutritionists, is forecast to grow 6.6% in the coming years, well over the 4.1% average among all jobs in the state.
According to information from a May 2013 US Bureau of Labor Statistics report, nutritionists in Arizona earn a mean salary of $48,120. The median salary among nutritionists in the state is $49,440, while those at the upper end of the salary range earn $71,830.
Recent emphasis on preventative healthcare has increased the interest in the role of proper nutrition in overall health and wellness. As the population ages, a greater number of Arizona residents will be in need of professional consultation to learn about the best food choices to optimize health and maximize longevity.
Nutritionists in Arizona have various opportunities to network with other industry professionals within organizations promoting health through proper diet and nutrition. The Arizona Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, an affiliate of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, is a local organization that seeks to improve health by advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education, and advocacy.
The School Nutrition Association of Arizona is an alliance of school food service employees and supporters. This state affiliate to the School Nutrition Association works to promote high quality child nutrition programs in all of Arizona’s public schools.
The Collegiate and Professional Sports Dietitians Association (CPSDA) is a relatively new organization that supports those who work with athletes in structured athletic programs such as collegiate or professional sports teams and in the US military. Major universities often have CPSDA members on staff that work to optimize the diets of their collegiate athletes.
Summer time is the season for relaxing our eating habits, with lemonade and ice cream serving as common cool-down remedies. It is at this time that the eating routine of every student changes as they are no longer in school on a daily basis and subjected to the lunches selected by the school system. Low-income families often fall into the habit of eating what is easy and cheap, particularly during the summer months.
Summer Lunch Buddies is a program based out of Arizona and is designed specifically for teens and children 18 and under. This program is federally funded and designed to support the Summer Food Service Program in reaching the same goal of providing free nutritious meals to children and teens from low-income families.
Considering there are hundreds of Summer Lunch Buddies locations in Arizona, students are encouraged to find one near them and enjoy free breakfasts and lunches throughout the summer. Parents are also welcome to join their children although they will have to pay a small discounted fee of $1 or $2 to receive a meal as well.
Summer Lunch Buddies is a large part of the Arizona Nutrition Network, which is a larger network providing health solutions for the entire family including programs, activities, recipes and videos all contributing to the overall health of the community. The network also provides opportunities for people to collaborate with the program and get involved in improving nutrition for the state. If you visit the Arizona Nutrition Network website you will find a diverse variety of recipes including Avocado Breakfast Bruschetta, Peanut Butter Crunch Balls, and Warm Apple and Kale Salad.
The website also provides various tips for family-friendly physical activities such as playing with your kids, exploring your community, getting creative with everyday household items, and encouraging your children to play with toys that require some aspect of physical activity.
Another unique and helpful element of this website are the various videos and commercials that provide fun and innovative examples of the health remedies that the website recommends. There is something for everyone in the Arizona Nutrition Network and it serves as an inviting community for families or individuals seeking health improvements.
Associate’s degrees in areas like those shown here are suitable for some entry-level health coach jobs:
A bachelor’s degree in one of these areas is the most common qualification employers look for and is necessary for most health coach career opportunities:
A master’s degree in one of these areas would be considered a very strong qualification, and would go beyond the general expectations of most employers:
Certification is often a necessary component of establishing your credentials as a health coach. The certification you are required to complete will vary from one position to another as employers may look for different aspects of hands-on training to fit the position you apply for. The certification you complete will serve as a field-specific credential denoting experience and expertise that contributes to your academic training in your baccalaureate degree. Certification provides you with credentials that will illustrate authority within the specialized scope of practice for health coaching.
American Council on Exercise (ACE) – ACE certification is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) and provides “standard” or “premium” self-study packages to prepare for the examination that leads to the Health Coach Certification. Certification through ACE must be renewed every 2 years by completing continuing education approved by ACE. The ACE Certification Candidate Handbook provides thorough details concerning the certification examination and maintenance process.
You will serve as a professional nutritional resource to customers and employees, providing nutritional education and preventative ideas for healthcare as well as retail support.
Health Coach for Healthways - Chandler, AZ
You will encourage clients to improve behavior and lifestyle in regards to physical fitness, nutrition, tobacco use, stress management, weight management, work life balance, reduce or eliminate high-risk behaviors and any other healh issues.
Health Coach for Provant - Phoenix, AZ
You will provide health coaching sessions for clients as well as required health screenings.
Health Coach for Insurance Firm - Mesa, AZYou will encourage clients in lifestyle and behavioral changes regarding nutrition, physical activity, work life balance, stress management, tobacco use, and any other health issues. You will help build goals clients based upon health assessments and screenings, meeting regularly to discuss/adjust goals as needed.
Summer Food Service Program
Arizona Department of Health Services
Maricopa County Department of Public Health
Arizona Public Health Association
Arizona Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Arizona Nutrition Network
Association of Arizona Food Banks