According to the Department of Professional Regulation, Dietician Nutritionist Practice Board, only a licensed “dietician nutritionist” can practice nutrition services in Illinois, including medical nutrition therapy, which involves interpreting and recommending nutrient needs for individuals with medically prescribed diets.
Medically prescribed diets may include specialized intravenous solutions, specialized oral feedings, food and prescription drug interactions, tube feedings, and developing and managing food service operations that are focused on providing nutrition care for individuals with medically prescribed diets.
To qualify for licensure in Illinois as a nutritionist, candidates must possess one of the following:
To receive a recommendation from the Board and an approval by the Department, the bachelor’s or post-bachelor’s degree must include the following coursework (and meet a number of other requirements):
Candidates for nutritionist licenses in Illinois must also complete at least 900 hours of experience with a 5-year time frame. The experience must have been with a supervisor who meets one the following requirements:
Upon the successful completion of all education and experience requirements for licensure, nutritionist candidates must complete the Application for Licensed Dietician Nutritionist Examination, which includes the following documents:
Applicants for licensure may apply before or after taking the required examination. The application fee is $100 (made payable to the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation). The completed application, application fee, and all related documents must be mailed to:
Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation
ATTN: Division of Professional Regulation
P.O. Box 7007
Springfield, IL 62791
Applicants may call 1-800-560-6420 with any questions about the application process.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, Illinois, metropolitan area had the third highest employment level for nutritionists as of May 2013, followed only by the New York and Los Angeles metropolitan areas. Nutritionists in the Chicago-Joliet-Naperville metropolitan area had a mean annual salary of $51,620, as of May 2013.
All nutritionist candidates for licensure in Illinois must take and pass the dietetic examination through the Commission on Dietetic Registration.
If an individual fails the examination three times, they must submit proof to the Department of the completion of at least six semester hours of dietetic coursework before retaking the examination for a fourth time.
The renewal process for licensed nutritionists in Illinois involves the completion of at least 30 hours of continuing education. At least 24 of those hours must be in medical nutrition therapy, which includes medical dietetics, clinical nutrition, diet therapy, or the equivalent. Individuals must provide the Board with a certificate of attendance or a certificate of completion from an approval sponsor or college/university transcript as to satisfy proof of continuing education.
The renewal period is every two years, and the renewal fee is $100. All renewals are completed online.
Licensed nutritionists in Illinois have a wealth of opportunities for professional development and networking, thanks to state associations/organizations such as:
Felling physically exhausted at times is quite common for just about everyone, a feeling that can be most acute at the end of the workweek– or school week. Students, from kindergarten through college often report feeling this way on a weekly basis, as do many working adults. It is common for people to lose steam by Friday and look forward to the weekend to recharge, something that health coaches hear very frequently from their clients.
Marangely Marrero of Hanson Park Elementary School in Chicago recognized this consistent struggle among her kindergarten students on a weekly basis. Marrero was determined to find a solution to the weekly slump by incorporating some form of physical activity into her classroom at least once a week.
In collaboration with the Action for Healthy Kids initiative already in place at Hanson, Marrero developed a custom program for her class based on her own experiences with Zumba. She found that those classes gave her the energy she needed to get through the day, so Marrero began implementing Zumba in her classroom, calling it “Friday Fun Days.”
Quickly, “Friday Fun Days” swept Hanson Park Elementary and teachers in other grades began showing interest in the “Zumbathon” that was overtaking the school. With such a positive response to Marrero’s efforts, she requested permission from the school administration to host after school Zumba classes for students two days a week. 100 students signed up for her first class! Marrero’s idea to boost energy sent a buzz through the school, contributing to a more energetic student body overall.
As Marrero’s classes grew, Marerro began inviting parents to participate in the classes with their kids. The parents who joined also began feeling more energized throughout the week and some who participated began seeing weight loss results and improved muscle tone.
The efforts of one teacher in Hanson Park Elementary School influenced an entire community to get in the habit of engaging physical activity in a fun way every week. Marrero’s efforts mirror those of the state’s health coaches. In fact, many from the professional health coach community have been singing her praises, describing her as someone who is helping improve the health of her students for a lifetime by instilling healthy habits early.
When it comes time for you to select a degree, you might be motivated to pursue an area of study in which you have a lot of personal interest and passion, but may feel uncertain about whether that will put you on the path to a successful career. Well, if you’re looking to become a health coach, then you’re in luck. Considering that there are no specific degree requirements in the field of health coaching, you are in a unique position to be able to select from any number of relevant majors related to nutrition, health and wellness.
Associate’s degrees in areas like those shown here are suitable for some entry-level health coach jobs:
● Health Promotion
● Health Education
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:
● Health Promotion
● Health Education
● Behavioral Health
● Health Management
● Exercise Physiology
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:
● Public Health
● Social Work
● Health Education
The certification you are expected to hold may vary from one position to another depending on the specific qualifications employers are looking for. Though this may include anything from nutrition to personal training, the following are just two options, both specific to health coaching in particular:
International Coach Federation (ICF) – The ICF is one of the leading worldwide organizations known for creating a large community of qualified health coaches around the world, setting high standards for their coaches, and offering independent certification. The organization provides a variety of credentialing opportunities for coaches including, Associated Certified Coach (ACC), Professional Certified Coach (PCC), and Master Certified Coach (MCC). To qualify for one of these certifications, you will need to complete a specified number of hours of health coaching experience and pass aCoach Knowledge Assessment (CKA). Every three years you will need to renew your ICF credentials as well as complete 40 hours of Continuing Coach Education.
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. TheACE Certification Candidate Handbook provides thorough details concerning the certification examination and maintenance process.
The many health coaching job opportunities in the state of Illinois vary in terms of qualifications and requirements, allowing you to find the position that best fits your experience and credentials. Such variety permits you to begin building your resume early on in your academic and certification endeavors.
The following job vacancy announcements, sourced in July 2016, represent the types of employment opportunities available to properly credentialed health coaches in Illinois. These job vacancy announcements are shown for illustrative purposes only and are not meant to represent job offers or provide an assurance of employment.
Health Coach for Paradigm Health Plans - Itasca, IL
You will be provide telephonic and digital consultations for clients in the area of managing lifestyle choices and modifying health risks.
Nutrition Coach for My Fit Foods - Chicago, IL
You will provide customized food plans for My Fit Foods consumers. You will serve clients through the entire length of the program according to a designated coaching model.
Health Coach for OSF HealthCare
You will work on the Complex Care Management team and the Primary Care team, providing patients with the means to set and achieve healthy lifestyle choices and goals.
Illinois Department of Public Health
Public Health Programs in Your Community - Illinois
U.S. Green Building Council - Illinois Chapter
Illinois Action for Healthy Kids
Northwestern Medicine - Community Health and Outreach
Hult Center for Healthy Living