Nutritionists typically have at least a bachelor’s degree, usually in food and nutrition or similar fields of study. Many nutritionists go on to obtain a master’s degree, or even a PhD. Some nutritionists have backgrounds in other areas of medicine as a nurse, general practitioner, or physician’s assistant. Specific fields of study for nutritionists may include weight management, diet and disease, wellness, nutrition through the lifecycle, and sports nutrition.
As new trends and developments occur regularly in the food and health industries, it is important for nutritionists to continue learning and be informed. A good way to do this is through membership of a professional association such as the California Dietetic Association or the California School Nutrition Association.
Because nutrition affects so many areas, nutritionists often specialize in a particular field of interest. For example, a nutritionist who works for a government agency may assist and teach clients about basic nutritional needs of infants and children to help them grow without nutrient deficiencies. Schools utilize the skills and knowledge of nutritionists to help plan meals that are served to students on a daily basis. Other nutritionists may specialize in helping those who struggle with certain diseases maintain a more healthy lifestyle. Their clients may suffer from diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, or obesity.
Good nutrition directly impacts the healthy functioning of the human body, so it is also common for nutritionists to work in fitness centers with people who are trying to get into shape or with elite athletes. They often help clients find the best balance of nutrients that enable the optimum physical performance, whether it is for short, intense need for speed and energy or for endurance and recovery.
A career as a nutritionist offers a variety of opportunities to work in different environments and with specific kinds of issues. In California, there is no requirement to be licensed as a nutritionist; however, the more education and experience a nutritionist has lends higher credibility and, ultimately, a thriving and exciting career.
Salaries for nutritionists in California vary based on the location of the position, the type of employer (private, government, independent), and of course, the level of education and experience. A typical mean salary, according to the BLS, is $71,870; the upper range of salaries is more than $95,000.
According to the State of California Employment Development Department, the projected demand for dietitians and nutritionists in the state through 2020 is expected to grow 20%, which is about the same as the national average. The estimates show almost 400 openings annually. The largest percentage of nutritionists and dietitians are employed in hospitals throughout the state, such as Adventist Health Central Valley Network and Scripps medical facilities. Other employers include nursing care facilities, schools, and government agencies.
Residents of California are known to be generally health-conscious, so becoming a nutritionist in California promises to be an exciting, fulfilling, and profitable career choice.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that more than 7000 nutritionists practice in the state of California. Listed below is a sample of the actual jobs for nutritionists in several different cities in California: