Findings by the New Hampshire Department of Health and Services report that in 2009, 36.5% of the adult population was considered overweight while 26.3% were categorized as obese. There astonishing statistics were largely attributed to a lack of physical activity, excessive eating, and unhealthy eating habits among state residents. This rampant decline in overall public health has led to a greater dependence on preventive health care professionals, like nutritionists, to help promote healthy lifestyles through nutritional education.
According to current state legislature, professional nutritionists in New Hampshire are not required to be registered, licensed, or certified in order to offer nutrition-related advice, assessment or counseling to paying clients. However, these unrestricted nutritionists may not use the professional titles of “dietician.” In New Hampshire, dieticians are defined as nutritionists that have earned the credential of “registered dietician” by the Commission of Dietetic Registration.
Since New Hampshire does not have any licensing requirements for nutritionists, one of the best ways for professionals to prove their occupational competency is by earning a college degree in a nutrition-related discipline. Surveys by the United States Bureau of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration indicate that approximately 40% of dieticians and nutritionists between the ages of 25 to 44 hold a bachelor’s degree. As such, nutritionists practicing in New Hampshire should acquire at least this degree level. The two most popular nutrition degree programs in New Hampshire are:
These degree programs offer classes in subjects such as:
By 2010, United States Bureau of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration reported there were 310 dieticians and nutritionists employed throughout New Hampshire. By 2020 these professionals are expected to rise to 360. This employment increase equates to 15% growth change. Manchester, New Hampshire currently houses the largest number of employed dieticians and nutritionists in the state.
Dieticians and nutritionists in New Hampshire are earning wages and salaries that are higher than the national average. According to the United States Bureau of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration, median state wage is $28.82/hr. whereas the median national wage is $26.88/hr. In addition, the median state salary is $59,900/yr. whereas the median national state is $55,900/yr.
In New Hampshire nutritionists often work in dual roles as both health care professionals and health educators. They may assist medial patients in hospital like Elliot Hospital in Manchester or Huggins Hospital in Wolfeboro. Nutritionists may also help to develop food plans or menu options for nursing and rehabilitation therapy providers such as Genesis Healthcare in Milford. Government agencies like New Hampshire Department of Education Bureau of Nutrition Programs and services may also employ nutritionists for advice in implementing healthy food initiatives in local schools.
An excellent way for nutritionists in New Hampshire to stay connected to the occupational standards in nutrition is by joining a professional association. These associations offer a variety of career development opportunities through education programs, occupational events, news alerts, networking forums, research projects and job placement boards. Professionals associations available for nutritionist in New Hampshire include:
Healthy Monadnock 2020 is a community-oriented health initiative in New Hampshire committed to making Monadnock the nation’s healthiest community – and they’re relying on health coaches to help them get there. This initiative is centrally focused upon the Monadnock region and Cheshire County and was established by the Cheshire Medical Center back in 2007. The organizations and businesses that make up this community are committed to pushing this initiative forward, providing the perfect environment for health coaches to thrive in one-on-one or group consultations.
Health coaches in the Monadnock community provide opportunities for local residents to succeed in health improvement goals and behavioral changes. One of the ways they are making this happen is through a healthy dining initiative, Turn a New Leaf (TANL). TANL began in 2011 with four restaurants submitting their menus for detailed analysis of calorie counts and nutritional values. The recipes identified as healthier options are then labeled with the TANL emblem of a heart and elm leaf. These restaurants were easy to recruit for the TANL program because they are passionate about the Healthy Monadnock 2020 initiative.
One of the restaurant’s owners claimed that joining TANL was not only an efficient way to assist the people of the community in their dietary choices but it also served as a wise business choice. The TANL program allows smaller local businesses to receive a stamp of approval from a health program. This is something they embraced whole-heartedly since many of these smaller businesses don’t have the resources for independent nutritional analyses of their menu items.
The steps that the Monadnock community is taking to improve the community’s overall health is creating an environment well primed for health coaches to counsel clients and help them make significant behavioral changes. Health coaches in the Monadnock community and throughout New Hampshire will have the opportunity to recommend healthy alternatives for those clients who enjoy going out to eat. This is just one example of the changes and improvements the Monadnock community attempts to make as they work toward a healthier New Hampshire.
There are several things unique about pursuing a career in health coaching. Among them is the fact that aspiring health coaches have a log of freedom when it comes to developing an area of specialization through education and training, whether in nutrition or fitness. Perhaps you enjoy monitoring, educating, and motivating clients in their eating habits. On the other hand you might prefer sweating it out with them in the gym, recommending cardio goals or strength training exercises.
Though you’ll be expected to be well rounded and familiar with all aspects of health and wellness, as you prepare for a career in health coaching you can choose to shape your future through a degree program, internships, electives, and certification in the area that you feel most passionate about.
Though some entry-level health coaching positions might only require a career diploma, certificate or associate’s degree, most employers tend to prefer candidates that have proven a higher level of mastery in the field through a bachelor’s degree program in area like the ones shown here:
If you’re making a life change of your own by changing careers and getting into the health and wellness industry and you already hold a bachelor’s degree, then you’ll find a master’s degree or graduate certificate will take you where you want to go. In some positions, a master’s degree is actually preferred and will always be a helpful contribution to any health coaching position you might acquire. You could select a master’s degree program from the following list of majors or a closely related field:
Most successful health coaches hold some form of professional certification in addition to a degree. Certification contributes to your academic training by providing more exposure to the field and credentials that you cannot officially receive any other way. Health coach certification can vital to the success of your career in this field. Certification serves as a field-specific credential that signifies your expertise in the field.
In many cases, the specific certification you will be required to complete will be selected by your employer and will likely cater to the requirements of the position for which you are applying. Depending on the company or employer, you may be allowed to complete more than one certification program. In many cases employers will allow time for you to become certified once you have been hired based on the merit of your degree, your experience and your passion for health and wellness.
There is no shortage of certification out there for health coaches, but they aren’t all created equal. Certification through American Council on Exercise (ACE) provides “premium” and “standard” self-study packages for your personal preparations leading up to the certification exam. As of now, ACE is the only program accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). Your ACE certification must be renewed every 2 years by completing any continuing education approved by ACE. The ACE Certification Candidate Handbook provides thorough instructions and information about how to go about preparing to become a certified health coach through ACE.
Health Coaching in New Hampshire: Career Paths and Job Opportunities
There are several paths to a career in health coaching:
New Hampshire is similar to many other states in the United States when it comes to health coaching jobs in that there are several different options that vary from position to position. In New Hampshire, you can choose to pursue an entry-level health coaching position that requires much less in the way of education than a more advanced coaching position with a nutrition and fitness coaching contracting company or hospital.
The following job vacancy announcements, sourced in August 2016, represent the types of employment opportunities available to properly credentialed health coaches in New Hampshire. 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 & Wellness Coach for The Granite YMCA - Goffstown, NH
You will be responsible for motivating members to help them achieve health goals and complete wellness programs through the Granite YMCA.
Certified Personal Trainer/Fitness Coach for Fitness Together - Portsmouth, NH
You will motivate and educate clients on nutrition and cardiovascular fitness routines through in-house Fitness Together programs.
Exercise Specialist for D-H Lebanon DHMC Dartmouth-Hitchcock Clinic - Lebanon, NH
You will evaluate patients to determine safety risks and exercise abilities. You will also assign an exercise plan and evaluate their results before and after those routines.
Local Resources for New Hampshire’s Health Coaches
Community Health Institute
Endowment for Health
New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services
New Hampshire Public Health Association
New Hampshire Health Officers Association
New Hampshire Department of Education: Bureau of Nutrition Programs and Services