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.