Iowa, nicknamed the Hawkeye state in honor of Chief Black Hawk, leader of the Sauk Indians, has a population of 3,090416 (2012), making it the fifteenth least populated state in the U.S. It was ranked second best in the “Quality of Life” survey reported annu8al by the Congressional Quarterly Press. The survey compares such things as education, environment, safety, health care and cost of living. Iowa just might be the ideal place for you to become a nutritionist.
Like most states, dieticians in Iowa are licensed but nutritionists are not. However, it is possible in Iowa to be licensed as a certified clinical nutritionist. All of these careers require formal training in the science of food and nutrition but there are educational requirement difference. Also, dieticians emphasize specific foods and eating habits while nutritionists focus more on the nutritional value of foods.
Nutritionist Educational Requirements. You can become a nutritionist in Iowa with just an Associate’s degree; however, almost all good jobs require at least a bachelor’s degree in nutrition. Many nutritionists in Iowa begin working with a bachelor’s degree and later earn a master’s.
Courses you are likely to take to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in nutrition include:
Certified Clinical Nutritionist Requirements. The first step toward becoming a certified clinical nutritionist is to satisfy the core educational requirement of at least a bachelor of science (most applicants have a master’s or doctoral degree) that includes three semester hours in each of these subjects:
Depending on your background, you are likely to be required to complete the 52-hour, online program, “Studies in Clinical Nutrition.” You will then have to submit your credentials for approval before being allowed to take a written test that demonstrates your competence in clinical nutrition. Once you pass and are certified you can submit your licensure application to the Iowa Board of Medicine.:
Nutrition Schools in Iowa- The following Iowa cities all have colleges or universities with bachelor’s and master’s programs in nutrition:
There are approximately 140 students graduating from Iowa schools each year with degrees in nutrition.
There are currently 780 actively employed nutritionists in Iowa earning an annual median salary of $50,300. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that number will increase by eight percent, or to 850 jobs, by 2018.
You can either open a private practice as a nutritionist or work for an employer. .Depending on employer, you might have any of these duties as a nutritionist:
You might work for a wide variety of employers as a nutritionist, including:
It is noted that manufacturing is the biggest contributor to Iowa’s economy and food processing is the largest manufacturing sector. Iowa is home to food giants like Heinz, General Mills, Quaker Oats, Tyson and others.
Skills you need to be an effective nutritionist are:
Health coaching is an ideal career path for anyone who wants to educate others on health issues and risk prevention, regardless of your background. For example, Des Moines health coach Melanie Schmidt left her career as a project manager after 20 years to pursue a degree in health and wellness. She now runs her own health coaching business, Food4Thought. Her specialty, she says, is helping clients reboot their diet and nutrition goals through clean-eating programs.
Iowa has a high rate of excessive drinking among its population, with 22.3 percent of the state’s adult population reporting binge or heavy alcohol consumption (America’s Health Rankings report, 2015). Rural counties in Iowa, such as Kossuth County in the northern part of the state, tend to be home to more drinkers, with an average 3.12 gallons of liquor sold for every county resident over 21 in 2014, says the Centers for Disease Control. One third of Iowa’s alcohol users consume 90 percent of all alcohol in the state, with the top 10 percent drinking at least 10 alcoholic beverages per day.
Alcohol is not the only health problem that Iowans face, however; just one of its most serious health challenges. Another major challenge to residents is the limited availability of primary care health care providers, especially in rural areas. Health coaches in these areas often provide routine biometric screenings for clients who might not otherwise have access to these serves, while also helping in education and risk prevention. Health coaches can also help rural Iowans improve chronic care management for ongoing health concerns such as alcohol dependence, diabetes, and heart disease.
While some health coaches are also registered nurses or registered dietitians, others start from scratch, with no health care background prior to beginning health and wellness studies. Possessing a keen interest in helping others is the first and most important step towards becoming a health coach in Iowa, the second is earning a relevant degree.
While you need not pursue licensure to become a health coach in Iowa, you should receive specialized education and training. This may result in an associate degree, undergraduate certificate, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or graduate certificate.
Undergraduate certificates and bachelor’s degrees you could consider if you wish to become a health coach include:
Master’s degrees or graduate certificates such as these are usually sought by candidates who are changing careers and already have a bachelor’s degree in another, non-health related field:
Professional Certification and Registration
Some health coaching jobs require you to become professionally certified as a health coach, through a recognized organization. The two most popular credentialing organizations nationwide for health coaches are:
Health coaches in Iowa work for insurance companies, weight loss centers, and medical centers, among many other settings. With your degree in hand, you should be able to find a health coach positon like the ones listed below.
The following job vacancy announcements, sourced in August 2016, represent the types of employment opportunities available to properly credentialed health coaches in Iowa. 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 Rolling Strong- Oxford, IA
You will provide one on one health and wellness coaching to clients, all of whom are professional drivers and employees of the transportation industry. You will conduct biometric screenings and health sessions as well as educate clients.
Nutritional Health Coach at Natural Grocers – Cedar Falls, IA
You will educate clients and employees in nutrition education and serve as a professional resource. In addition to conducting one on one nutritional health coaching sessions with clients, you will be available to answer questions clients have about nutrition and store products.
Wellness Coach at Scott County Family YMCA- Maquoketa, IA
You will educate YMCA members on nutrition and fitness, helping them to achieve their goals. You will give basic assessments, fitness orientations and setup basic workouts for members.
Biometric Health Screener for Check-Ups Program- Cedar Rapids, IA
You will coordinate and conduct biometric appointments and collect health history of clients. You will help to identify and promote weight loss, fitness and nutrition goals.
Resources Relevant to Iowa’s Health Coaches
Iowa Board of Medicine
Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals: Health Facilities Division
Iowa Department of Public Health
Iowa Compass Center for Disabilities and Development
Iowa Hospital Association
University of Iowa Consumer Health Resource Guide
Health at Iowa Newsletter
NAMI Greater Des Moines