State Requirements for Nutrition and Dietitian Fields

North Carolina

North Carolina Nutritionist Certification

The North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition (NCBDN) is responsible for protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of North Carolina from harmful nutrition practice by regulating and licensing dieticians and nutritionists.

The Act to Regulate the Practice of Dietetics/Nutrition was passed in July 1991. The first dieticians/nutritionists were licensed by June 1992. To date, there are now more than 2,300 licensed dieticians and nutritionists in North Carolina.

Becoming a Licensed Nutritionist in North Carolina: Education and Experience Requirements

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Individuals who want to learn how to become a nutritionist must become licensed as to practice nutrition in North Carolina. Minimum requirements for nutritionist licensure in North Carolina include:

  • Completing a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university with a major course of study in one of the following:
    • Human nutrition
    • Foods and nutrition
    • Dietetics
    • Community nutrition
    • Public health nutrition
    • An equivalent major course of study; AND
  • Completing a planned internship that meets the standards of the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND); AND
  • Passed an examination approved by the Board

However, individuals may also qualify for licensure as a nutritionist in North Carolina if they possess a Doctor of Medicine or doctoral degree in one of the following from a regionally accredited college or university:

  • Human nutrition
  • Nutrition education
  • Foods and nutrition
  • Public health nutrition
  • Equivalent major course of study approved by the Board

All candidates for nutritionist licensure must, regardless of their course of study, complete the Board’s minimum course requirements, which include:

  • Social and behavioral sciences
  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Human nutrition
  • Diet therapy
  • Advanced nutrition

Candidates can find more information North Carolina’s regionally accredited and ACEND accredited dietetics programs here.

Applying for Nutritionist Licensure by Category

When applying for a nutritionist license in North Carolina, applicants must first decide which category of licensure is applicable to them:

Category A: Candidates who qualify for Category A licensure are registered dieticians (RDs) who are currently registered with the Commission on Dietetic Registration or who were provisionally licensed and are currently seeking to convert from a Category B to a Category A license.

Category B (Provisional): Candidates who qualify for Category B licensure have completed their education component, internship component, and have received an eligibility email from the Commission on Dietetic Registration but have not yet taken the CDR exam. All Category B applicants have six months to pass the CDR exam to upgrade to a Category A license.

Category C: Candidates who qualify for Category C licensure possess a bachelor’s degree in human nutrition, nutritioneducation, foods and nutrition, dietetics, community nutrition, or public health nutrition but still need to complete a supervised practice program and examination for North Carolina licensure.

Category D: Candidates who qualify for Category D licensure are currently licensed in another state and are seeking license reciprocity. The Board only considers those applicants who come from states with equivalent licensing requirements.

Category E: Candidates who qualify for Category E licensure possess a Doctor of Medicine or a doctorate degree in nutrition education, human nutrition, foods and nutrition, public health nutrition, or an equivalent course of study.

Applying for a Nutritionist License in North Carolina

All applicants must complete a License Application and include the following documents (where applicable):

  • Copy of CDR Registration (Category A applicants)
  • Original PLDN certificate (Applicants converting from a Category B to a Category A license)
  • Sealed transcripts sent directly to the NCBDN office from the educational institution (Category C, D and E applicants)
  • A completed competency chart (Category C and E applicants), requested from the Board office

Applicants must also get the last page of the application notarized and include the following fee (made payable to the North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition):

  • Category A: $175
  • Category B: $475
  • Category C: Contact the NCBDN for additional guidance
  • Category D: $250
  • Category E: $250

The renewal period for nutritionist licenses in North Carolina is March 31 of each year.

Staying Current on the Nutrition Practice in North Carolina

Licensed nutritionists in North Carolina have a number of opportunities to advance the profession of nutrition through membership and participation in state and national professional associations and organizations, such as:

School Nutrition Association of North Carolina
North Carolina Association of Nutrition and Foodservice Professionals
North Carolina Dietetic Association
American Nutrition Association
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
National Association of Nutrition Professionals


Health Coach in North Carolina

Health coaches in North Carolina are in demand, as they are needed to guide individual clients toward achieving their personal health goals, while also helping communities become healthier:

  • Increasing standards of nutrition and physical activity
  • Improving maternal and infant health
  • Decreasing the use of tobacco
  • Reducing STDs and unintended pregnancies
  • Preventing and reducing substance abuse
  • Improving mental health
  • Improving oral health
  • Reducing chronic disease

After careful analysis and study, multiple agencies – including the North Carolina Institute of Medicine and the North Carolina Division of Public Health – came together in 2011 to produce the initiative Healthy North Carolina 2020. This is a list of 13 goals the state has identified as being the most important for improving health, with eight of those goals listed above.

As a health coach, you would be particularly effective in helping to achieve the goals designated under the initiative. Take nutrition and physical activity as an example. The goals of this segment are to:

  • Increase the percentage of North Carolina high school students with a healthy weight from 2009 levels of 72 percent to a target of 79 percent by 2020.
  • Increase the percentage of North Carolina adults who are getting the recommended amount of physical activity from 2009 levels of 46 percent to a target of 61 percent by 2020.
  • Increase the percentage of North Carolina adults who consume five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day from the 2009 level of 21 percent to a target of 29 percent by 2020.

And it's not just the Healthy North Carolina 2020 initiative where you can find a place as a health coach. Private companies throughout the state take part in this initiative by hiring health coaches to work with their employees. In fact, the Healthy NC 2020 initiative specifically singles out worksites, encouraging employers to implement wellness programs and offer intervention options to support employees.

Degrees and Professional Certification to Become a Health Coach in North Carolina

The field of health coaching as we know it today is actually relatively new. In a world of too much screen time, car commuting, and sedentary office jobs, the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle is becoming glaringly obvious in today's modern world. As such, professional credentials and certifications for health coaches are flexible, and there are currently no state or national licensing requirements for these professionals.

However, that doesn't stop employers or clients from having preferences or requirements for the health coaches they hire, including concrete credentials like a college degree or professional certification. To accommodate the growing demand for credentials in this field, many colleges and professional certification organizations are offering their programs online as well as on campus.

School Options – Associate's, Bachelor's, and Master's Degrees

You can prepare for a health coach career through relevant online and campus-based degree programs in a broad array of diverse areas that include:

  • Nursing – offered as an associate's degree in Charlotte, Greensboro, and Raleigh
  • Nutrition sciences – offered as a BS or MS in Chapel Hill
  • Maternal and child health – offered as an MS in Chapel Hill
  • Exercise physiology – offered as an MA specialization in Chapel Hill
  • Health promotion – offered as a BS in Pembroke
  • Exercise and sports science – offered as a BS in Pembroke
  • Health behavior – offered as an MS in Chapel Hill
  • Recreation management – offered as a BS in Pembroke
  • Nurse practitioner – offered as an MS in women's health in Chapel Hill
  • Athletic training – offered as an MS in Greensboro
  • Public health education – offered as a BS in Durham
  • Exercise science – offered as a BS and MS in Charlotte

You will find yourself in high demand if you already have a bachelor's degree and are changing careers to become a health coach. The same holds true if you're looking to advance your bachelor's degree to the graduate level.


Non-Degree Health Coach Certification Programs

You may also find that adding a non-degree health coach certification will give you the credentials employers look for. These are also often offered in an online format. There are many programs out there, and these typically involve studying for several months to qualify for a certification exam. When you pass the exam you become professionally certified by the sponsoring organization. Professional certification can be a good option if you:

  • Want to add to your existing qualifications
  • Want to explore the health coach field without committing to a full academic degree
  • Want to meet the requirements or preferences of an employer
  • Want to make yourself a more attractive applicant for health coach jobs

There are many types of certification organizations with varying levels of accreditation.
Currently the American Council on Education (ACE) is the only organization that is accredited through the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA).

The ACE health coach program offers three certification routes that are tailored to your professional career goals:

  • Health coach certification for fitness professionals
  • Health coach certification for health care professionals
  • Health coach certification for workplace wellness

You can find detailed information about these programs in the ACE Certification Candidate Handbook.

In addition to an academic degree or professional certification, employers may also consider these factors as being attributes on a health coach application:

  • If you've taken related classes
  • Relevant personal and professional experience
  • Relevant self-study programs or books you've read

Career Paths and Job Opportunities Available to Health Coaches in North Carolina

Before we talk about important employers of health coaches we should address the independent business model. Some of the most successful and experienced health coaches have a first-name reputation and run their own independent business. This is typically possible once you have worked for an employer and developed a reputation for yourself.

In 2014 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 23 percent of North Carolina adults were physically inactive, 11 percent had diabetes, and 30 percent were obese. These numbers alone should tell you there is a strong market for one-on-one health coaching, which you can access independently once you get a business license.

Career Examples in North Carolina

ACE estimates that 67 percent of employers identify employee health habits as a top challenge. Every year sick days and lost productivity due to poor health habits cost companies millions of dollars. Improving the health of their workforce is why many North Carolina companies – both in the public and private sector – hire health coaches. Examples of employers who cater to these types of needs are as follows, listed with job descriptions and requirements.

(These job vacancy announcements, sourced in July 2016, represent the types of employment opportunities available to properly credentialed health coaches in North Carolina. 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 with Provant Health in Fayetteville – This self-described wellness company specializes in contracting with corporate clients to provide health coaching services. Provant is seeking a professional and well spoken individual who has experience with stress management, physical activity, tobacco cessation, and weight loss management. As an applicant you must have one of these credentials:

  • Registered nursing license
  • Registered dietician license
  • Competency in physical exercise education

Health and Wellness Coach with Aetna in High Point – Striving to reshape healthcare across America and North Carolina, Aetna is seeking a candidate with prior experience in coaching stress management, healthy lifestyle behavior changes, weight management, and nutrition. As a health and wellness coach you are responsible for working effectively with a range of clients assigned to you at the location in High Point. As a successful applicant you need to have these qualification:

  • 2-3 years of experience in wellness coaching or related areas
  • Active listening skills, evidence-based coaching techniques, and a background in motivational interviewing

Health Coach with the Carolinas HealthCare System in Charlotte – As a health coach within this healthcare system your goal is to successfully engage your clients, who are medically vulnerable or chronically ill, to help them take a more active role in their health. You do this by providing them with the resources and tools that make long-term healthy lifestyle choices possible. As an applicant you need to have at least a high school diploma, and should consider these two qualifications:

  • Health coach certification – this must be obtained within your first year of employment
  • Bachelor's degree in a health related discipline – this is a preferred qualification

Additional Resources for Health Coaches in North Carolina

You can find more information on employers, professional opportunities, education, and initiatives that are relevant for health coaches through the following local resources:

Government Resources and Programs

Professional, Private, and Non-Profit Organizations

 

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