Maine is famous for its wild blueberries and a July 31, 2014 article in the Bangor News reported that University of Maine nutrition professor Dorothy Klinis has found that wild blueberries significantly reduce triglycerides in the body which in turn decreases the chances of heart disease. This is just one example of nutritionists at work in Maine.
The Maine Board of Licensing and Dietetic Practice is the governing body for dieticians and nutritionists in Maine where the terms “dietitian” and “nutritionist” are used almost interchangeably.
Maine is one of the 35 states that require nutritionist to be licensed. The four types of Board-issued licenses a nutritionist can qualify for are:
The requirements for earning a license to practice nutrition (dietetic license) are:
The requirements for earning a dietetic technician license in Maine are:
Temporary licenses can be issued to persons who meet all qualifications but have not yet taken the exam. Non-renewable temporary licenses are valid for one year.
There is one on-campus school in Maine that offers a degree in nutrition/dietetics. There are also approximately six fully accredited online schools from which you can obtain your degree. Online schools provide the convenience of being able to take courses in your own home at any time of the day or night. Courses you might take for a degree in nutrition include:
Licensed nutritionists fill a wide variety of job functions, including:
The job of a licensed dietetic technician might include:
Employers of licensed nutritionists and technicians include:
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are currently about 240 dieticians/nutritionists in Maine who are earning between $42,745 and $81,750 a year. The median wage is $59,750. Job growth for these professionals is described as good with an expected 10 percent job increase in the next 10 years.
Maine Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (MAND )- an affiliate of the national Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the largest organization of food and nutrition professionals in the country.
Recently, the Maine Chapter of the March of Dimes awarded Portland’s Family Health Program a $10,000 grant to fund education aimed at reducing the use of tobacco. Researchers found that in Portland, people in households with a total income of between $15,000 and $24,999 per year are three times more likely to smoke compared to those in households with higher average incomes. This program specifically targets this at-risk population through in-home visits. The nurses and health coaches that are involved in these outreach programs are paying particular attention to households with expectant mothers.
In June 2016, Portland raised the age requirement for purchasing tobacco from 18 to 21 as a way to deter young people from smoking, but much more needs to be done to address the causal issues behind why young people choose to use tobacco. The understanding is that exposure is perhaps the single biggest contributing factor. Young people from households with parents that smoke are more likely to become smokers themselves.
According to health coaches working for Partnership for a Tobacco-Free Maine, smoking kills more people in the state than AIDS, alcohol, car accidents, suicides, murders and illegal drugs combined. Heartbreakingly, it is estimated that 2,200 Maine residents die every year from this nasty habit.
Additionally, 16 percent of Maine high schoolers, and seven percent of its middle schoolers, smoke. And the problem only gets worse after high school, with estimates showing that twenty-six percent of young adults in the state aged 18-24 also smoke. Studies have found that youngsters who use smokeless e-cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products are more likely to become cigarette smokers in young adulthood.
With statistics like these, it’s clear that Maine’s health coaches have their work cut out for them, working to address these kinds of systemic issues through education that helps support tobacco use cessation, weight management, and fitness.
Many health coaches are found working in Maine’s outpatient clinics, while others work for insurance companies, assessing health risks and helping clients adopt healthier habits. Still others work for corporations that have discovered that healthier employees are more productive employees.
There’s no need to become licensed, certified or registered to work as a health coach specifically, since “health coaching” itself is an unregulated profession without licensing requirements.
However, if your work involves developing nutrition plans for patients in a hospital or for other clients, you will need to qualify to become a Registered Dietitian. This will involve being listed on the national registry through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Commission on Dietetic Registration, as well as state-licensed through the Maine Board of Licensing of Dietetic Practice. Some hospitals that employ health coaches may look for candidates that are registered nurses.
Whether your career goals involve becoming a registered dietician or not, a bachelor’s degree is usually considered to be the standard for most health coaching positions. Since there are no specific licensing requirements to become a health coach, you are free to choose from a wide array of majors. This allows you to focus your education on a specific area of interest, whether exercise science and kinesiology or nutrition and dietetics.
Associate’s degrees and certificates that may help you to land an entry-level health coaching job include:
Bachelor’s degrees that many employers of health coaches accept include:
If you possess a bachelor’s degree in another field but would like to change careers and become a health coach, consider a master’s degree or graduate certificate:
Professional Certification and Registration
Some health coaching positions require that you be a registered nurse, registered dietitian or hold another license. The majority, however, simply require a bachelor’s degree.
It is common for employers to expect job candidates to hold some form of voluntary professional certification. Some popular options include:
The following job vacancy announcements, sourced in August 2016, represent the types of employment opportunities available to properly credentialed health coaches in Maine. 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 Bath Iron Works TrestleTree – Bath, ME
You will help clients to improve their health behaviors in a one-on-one setting. You will focus on disease management, tobacco cessation, weight management, stress management, improved nutrition and exercise.
Must possess one of the following Maine state licensures/registrations:
Health Coach at Central Maine Medical Center- Lewiston, ME
You will work with contracted employers to provide health and wellness services to employees. Tasks will include health risk assessments, biometric screenings, and one-on-one coaching sessions. You will also help to coordinate wellness fairs and education sessions with the employer.
Tobacco Treatment Educator-Health Educator for MaineHealth Corporate – Portland, ME
You will help to development, implement and coordinate outreach activities throughout the state of Maine. You will also train other healthcare professionals in working in community healthcare.
RN Patient Educator/Care Coordinator for Eastport Health Care, Inc. – Eastport, ME
You will coordinate client care, health care mentoring and health care education. You will provide direct nursing licensed support to clients.
State of Maine Department of Health and Human Services
Portland Maine Health & Human Services Department
Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention
Maine Public Health Association
Maine Behavioral Health Organization
Maine Counseling Association
New England Chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine
Maine Nutrition Council