Interest in Healthy eating and the battle against obesity has increased dramatically in the U.S. in recent years. As a result, nutritionist careers are being considered by a growing number of individuals across the nation and Missouri is no exception. The nutrition profession may be the ideal choice for you..
Missouri is one of the 35 states with a mandate that nutritional counseling, evaluations and therapy can only be performed by licensed dietitians. Therefore, unlicensed nutritionists are unlikely to receive any government or private insurance reimbursements for personal nutritional counseling. The following requirements must be met if you want to become licensed in Missouri:
There are approximately eight colleges/universities in Missouri that offer degree programs in nutrition/dietetics. These schools are located in the following cities:
As a nutritionist you will counsel, evaluate, plan and implement nutrition programs for individuals or groups. You can either work for an employer or open a private practice. You might test foods for their nutritional components, investigate the veracity of food labels, teach nutrition classes, design public/private school lunch menus, do nutritional research or educate the general public about nutritional issues. The list of prospective employers contains almost any food-related institution, facility or company, including:
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that 1,060 nutritionists/dieticians were actively working in Missouri in 2011. A 21 percent job growth was expected. This excellent forecast is largely due to the general public’s increased awareness about the importance of good nutrition.
According to the BLS nutritionists/dieticians in Missouri earn an annual mean wage of $49,590; however, there is considerable variation depending on geographic location. Higher annual mean wages (2012) were reported in:
You can find detailed information about the licensing process as well as on-line application forms from the Missouri Division of Professional Registration. There is a $50 application fee. Licenses are renewable every five years with the completion of 75 hours of continuing professional education.
Spending hours and hours a day in an office chair has become normal for many millions of Americans. Missourians have recognized the danger of such daily immobility, and with the help of health coaches, have created a workplace health initiative for the many private sector and state employees that spend endless hours hunched over a keyboard every day. In response, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services is committed to facilitating a “Worksite Challenge” for anybody in the state working in a corporate setting.
The “Worksite Challenge” targets three different categories for behavioral change: physical condition, exercise and fitness, and nutrition. A few of the behavioral changes being suggested include getting a full 7 hours of sleep every night, walking a mile during your lunch hour, and eating breakfast every day. Among many other suggestions for health improvement, these behavioral changes are known to contribute to overall physical health – regardless of how minor the changes may seem, when applied consistently they bring results.
The Worksite Challenge for corporate employees goes so far as to engage the emotional health of the individual as a way to motivate effective behavioral changes. In this way, the initiative is holistic in nature since it covers every factor that contributes to an individual’s overall health. With the help of health coaches, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services works to combat common health risks by presenting the Worksite Challenge as an alternative solution that can ultimately bring about consistent and positive health habits for both office workers and their families.
The Worksite Challenge is not only effective in getting people to get proactive about their heath, but also serves as a powerful tool for education. It forces individuals to recognize how every aspect of their lives can affect their physical health, teaching them to think beyond just addressing the well-known negative factors like stress and alcohol consumption and tobacco use.
The challenge is often presented as a kind of game or competition within the workplace as coworkers track their progress to see who can lose the most weight or walk the most miles. Health coaches understand the benefits of turning these initiatives into a fun experience. More fun almost always means more results for anyone willing to accept the “Challenge."
As you consider the degree options that will help you get your health coach career off the ground, you will find that you have a lot of freedom when it comes to selecting a major. This flexibility extends to the electives you choose, any internships you participate in and the professional certification you choose to earn. This allows you to build your experience around your personal areas of interest, whether it’s exercise science and kinesiology or nutrition and dietetics, or something that is well rounded enough to encompass all these areas.
Different employers will have different requirements regarding the education and/or certification they would expect you to have. If you do well in the interview process and have relevant life experiences, you can often complete any outstanding certification requirements after being hired.
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:
If you already have a bachelor’s, then earning a master’s degree or graduate certificate in one of these areas would be considered a very strong qualification, and would go beyond the general expectations of most employers.
The employer you will be working for will often determine the kind of certification you are required to hold. Some may be looking to hire a registered and properly certified dietitian, while others may look for more general health coaching certification. In any case, certification will serve as a field-specific credential denoting your specialized training and experience.
General health coach certification available through either the American Council on Exercise (ACE) or the International Coach Federation (ICF) provides you with credentials that show you are an authority in the field of 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.
International Coach Federation (ICF) – The ICF is known as one of the leading certification organizations for health coaching. The organization provides a variety of credentials for coaches that include: Associated Certified Coach (ACC), Professional Certified Coach (PCC), and Master Certified Coach (MCC). You receive credentials when you have completed the required hours of coaching experience and pass a Coach Knowledge Assessment (CKA). Every three years you are required to renew your ICF credentials in addition to completing 40 hours of Continuing Coach Education.
Health coaching jobs vary considerably when it comes to meeting basic employer requirements. The benefit to this variety is that you are able to find a position that best fits your academic background and coaching experience. In some cases, you can begin an entry-level job with fewer requirements then pursue higher education and personal development after being hired. If you are seen as a strong candidate that will bring a lot of enthusiasm and experience to the organization, it is not uncommon for employers to allow you to earn the certification or licensing the position requires after you are hired.
The following job vacancy announcements, sourced in July 2016, represent the types of employment opportunities available to properly credentialed health coaches in Missouri. These job vacancy announcements are shown for illustrative purposes only and are not meant to represent job offers or provide an assurance of employment.
Healthy Living Director for the YMCA of Greater Kansas City - Kansas City, MO
You will be responsible for customer retention and premiere membership services, as well as budgeting, planning, and promoting and implementing health programs. You will be responsible for membership and financial development in order to ensure growth of the YMCA of Greater Kansas City.
Telephonic Wellness Health Coach for UnitedHealth Group - Maryland Heights, MO
You will correspond with clients by phone and assist them with setting and meeting their health and wellness goals.
Personal Trainer for Wellbridge Athletic Club & Spa - St. Louis area, MO
You will provide individual or group coaching and training for people seeking to set and meet fitness and wellness goals.
Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services
Missouri Association of Rural Health Clinics
Missouri Dietetic Association
Missouri Foundation for Health
Missouri Public Health Association
Missouri Rural Health Association
United Way of Greater St. Louis