State Requirements for Nutrition and Dietitian Fields

Arkansas

Becoming a Nutritionist in Arkansas

Nutritionists in Arkansas are non-licensed professionals. The Dietetics Practice Act of the Arkansas Dietetics Licensing Board (ADLB) outlines the regulations and licensing process for the practice of dietetics to include only licensed dieticians.

Arkansas Certification and Degree Requirements

Although no certification or licensure requirements for nutritionists exist in Arkansas, professionals practicing the act of nutritional care in this state nevertheless choose to pursue a post-secondary education, a standard in this profession.

A typical requirement for nutritionist licensing in other states includes a post-secondary education, from a bachelor’s degree to a doctoral degree. Nutrition-related degrees, both in Arkansas and through online programs, typically include a focus on a number of topics, including food and nutrition, dietetics, community nutrition, and public health nutrition. Courses in biochemistry, physiology, or anatomy/physiology, and nutrition science are also often an integral part of these degree programs.

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Individuals in Arkansas who choose to complete a bachelor’s degree may decide to take additional didactic coursework to ensure a well-rounded education in nutrition and dietetics, while individuals who choose to complete a master’s or doctoral degree may better position themselves for nutrition-related professional certification, such as:

Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS) certification, Board for Certification of Nutrition Specialists

Certified Nutrition Specialist Scholar (CNS- Scholar) certification, Board for Certification of Nutrition Specialists

Arkansas Example of Nutritionist Careers and Job Descriptions

Career opportunities in Arkansas for nutritionists may be found through a number of establishments, such as nursing homes, assisted living facilities, health clubs, governmental agencies, school districts, and hospitals.
Just a few of the organizations/businesses in Arkansas where nutritionists are likely to be employed include:

  • North Arkansas Regional Medical Center
  • Arkansas Department of Health
  • Arkansas Children’s Hospital
  • Arkansas Heart Hospital
  • Arkansas School for the Blind
  • Conway Regional Health System

Nutritionists, therefore, are desperately needed to help create a better environment of healthful eating and overall physical health. This need creates a variety of job opportunities for nutrition experts. Baptist Health and HealthSouth are two examples of healthcare networks which have multiple locations throughout the state. Baptist Health, for example, has hospitals in Arkadelphia and Little Rock, plus several other communities.

Other opportunities for nutritionists can be found in health and fitness facilities that offer nutrition counseling for club members as part of their fitness program. Kerch Wellness Management in Russellville focuses on a broad spectrum of wellness strategies, including offering the services of nutrition consultants. Powerhouse Gym in Little Rock is another health club that offers nutrition education to club members.

Statewide, nutritionists with the Arkansas Department of Health provide education, resources, and assistance to help Arkansans eat more healthfully. Areas of focus include helping prevent obesity, increasing fruit and vegetable consumption, and breastfeeding, while decreasing the amount of sugar-laden foods and beverages in typical diets.
Overall, nutrition specialists in the following categories are especially in demand:

  • Diet and Nutrition
  • Diabetes
  • Weight Management
  • Wellness Counseling
  • Eating Disorders

Arkansas Nutritionist Degrees and Education

Nutritionists study about food and its nutrients as well as how the human body processes, uses, and depends on various nutrients so that they can inform others regarding healthful choices. Nutritionists often obtain a bachelor’s degree and take classes such as human physiology, biology, and chemistry. They also take food-related classes that discuss the preparation of food, health and safety of food storage and preparation, and the different properties and nutrients in food that help or hurt the human body.

Arkansas Nutritionist Salary and Job Opportunities

Nutritionists in Arkansas earned a mean, annual salary of $33,160 to $49,430, as of May 2013. The national average for nutritionists during this time was $56,300, with the top 10 percent of nutritionists earning more than $78,720.

The long-term growth projection for nutritionists in Arkansas are below the national average of approximately 21%, but the number of positions for nutritionists is expected to rise through 2020 according to the State of Arkansas Long-term Industry and Occupational Projections report.

Similarly, the national average wage for nutritionists and dietitians was $55,240 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics report of May 2013. The BLS information for the state of Arkansas reveals that the median salary was $47,920, but the upper range of salaries were well above the national average median at $58, 380 for the 75th percentile and $69,900 for the 90th percentile. Salaries for nutritionists are dependent on education, experience, and location.

Professional Associations and Organizations for Nutritionists in Arkansas

Professional competence for nutritionists in Arkansas can be achieved through membership and participation in state and regional professional associations, such as:

Arkansas School Nutrition Association
Arkansas Academy of Nutrition and Sciences
Arkansas Association of Nutrition and Foodservice Professionals

Nutritionists need to stay informed about new developments and strategies regarding nutrition. Continuing education is a given in this field, especially because nutritionists themselves are often teaching others about good choices when it comes to food. The Arkansas Chapter of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) provides excellent resources for nutritionists and dietitians to receive information as well as network with others in their profession.

Nutritionists who work for the Arkansas Department of Education oversee and administer many programs that directly influence students’ nutrition options in public schools. These programs include the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, the Seamless Summer Program, Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Grants, and other programs designed to encourage children to eat healthy snacks, meals, and drink milk. Child Nutrition Services provides additional information and resources.


Become a Health Coach in Arkansas

From children to adults, reward systems are effective in motivating people. Children will behave in order to gain an extra piece of candy and adults will work really hard to exercise and eat well so that they can enjoy a cheat meal later on in the week. The state of Arkansas uses this principle of reward to its advantage by implementing a reward system for employees who live healthy lifestyles.

The Arkansas Department of Health created a program in which employees are rewarded for a nutritious diet, exercise, and any other healthy life choices. The Arkansas Healthy Employee Lifestyle Program (AHELP) is a complex web-based program that provides web-based health assessments of each individual employee. The web-based evaluation of employees’ health improvements earns them points which go toward paid time off or other prizes of their choice.

Although the AHELP program still requires some adjustments to the web-based evaluations and point system, the program is designed to support employees who are actively attempting to improve their health. When the program is adopted by the company, the company is then required to assist the employees by providing walkways around the company, encouraging employees to engage in physical activity as well as providing healthy alternatives at catered events for the company. These initiatives provide ample opportunities for employees to pursue a healthier lifestyle by providing significant support through the process.

As you can see, Arkansas attempts to make nutrition approachable with reward systems like these and practical everyday alternatives to improve the overall health of the state and further prevent the growing problem of obesity. The U.S. Department of Agriculture teamed up with the Arkansas Coalition of Obesity Prevention by providing a large sum of money as a grant for 21 different farmers markets in the state Arkansas to implement a program called Double Up Food Bucks. This program permits low-income families who have to rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) to spend the equivalent of their SNAP funds on fresh fruits and vegetables at participating vendors. Arkansas clearly relies heavily upon the reward system to improve the overall health of the state in many different ways and the state continually attempts to improve the processes.

Becoming a Health Coach: Earning a Relevant Degree and Professional Certification

Considering health coaching is a relatively new field, there is no “health coach” major. This means you can select the degree or program you are most interested in so long as it includes some component of health coaching like nutrition or fitness. Several suitable degrees and a standard certification for employment are listed below.
 
Degree Options
Associate’s degrees in areas like those shown here are suitable for some entry-level health coach jobs:
 

  1. Healthcare Management
  2. Business Administration
  3. Nutrition
  4. Applied Science in Health and Wellness
  5. Psychology

 
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:
 

  1. Social Work
  2. Counseling
  3. Healthcare Management
  4. Nutrition
  5. Fitness
  6. Dietetics
  7. Health Promotion

 
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:

  1. Biology
  2. Health Management
  3. Sport and Fitness Management
  4. Nutrition

Professional Certification

Due to the hands-on element of certification for health coaching, most employers will require some form of certification for any given health coaching position. These certification examinations will vary from position to position depending on the type of training employers are looking for. The experience you obtain through certification serves as a field-specific credential denoting expertise. Certification will provide you with credentials proving you are an 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.

Health Coaching in Arkansas: Career Paths and Job Opportunities

The list of jobs below provide a variety of health coaching positions and qualifications, allowing you to choose where your credentials and qualifications fit best.

The following job vacancy announcements, sourced in June 2016, represent the types of employment opportunities available to properly credentialed health coaches in Arkansas. These job vacancy announcements are shown for illustrative purposes only and are not meant to represent job offers or provide an assurance of employment.
 
Wellness Coach for Plus One Health Management - Fort Smith, AR
You will serve as a one-on-one health coach for clients providing encouragement and education as the individuals set goals toward health improvement.
 
Requirements:

  1. Bachelor’s degree or higher education in fitness, nutrition, counseling, health promotion, or a related field
  2. Certification from Wellcoaches or another nationally recognized coaching organization required
  3. At least two years of experience as a wellness coach in a corporate setting preferred
  4. Proven experience and understanding in health management: behavioral modification, health screenings, disease management, prevention
  5. Strong written, communication, organizational, and time management skills

Health Coach for Provant - Hampton, AR

You will conduct face-to-face health coaching sessions and conduct a variety of health screenings for participants.
 
Requirements:

  1. Certifications for practical/vocational nursing license, exercise, health educator, registered nurse license
  2. Registered dietitian’s license preferred
  3. One or two years of experience in health education, tobacco cessation, physical activity, stress management, or weight loss management preferred
  4. Communication, organizational, and computer proficiency skills desired

 
Sales and Service Manager Trainee/ Weight Loss Coach for the Metabolic Research Center - Conway, AR

You will motivate and encourage clients to participate in programs for their health improvement. You will coach clients in individualized goal-setting and weight loss programs as well.
 
Requirements:

  1. At least five years of experience in management or sales
  2. Customer service experience
  3. Able to meet and exceed sales and service goals
  4. Competitive drive for results in sales and management
  5. Exceptional ability to create uplifting and positive environments for clients

Local Resources and Arkansas Health Departments

Arkansas Department of Health
Arkansas Center for Health Improvement
Healthy Active Arkansas
Arkansas Coalition for Obesity Prevention
Baptist Health
Arkansas Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Arkansas Health Information Management Association

 

 

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