The Oregon Public Health Division’s 2012 State Health Profile Report exposed obesity and overweight conditions as contributing factors in to the premature deaths of approximately 1,500 Oregonians each year, making it the second largest cause of preventable death in the state. The report suggested that a lack of fruit and vegetables in daily diets might attribute to statewide obesity.
To eradicate the occurrence of preventable conditions like obesity, many people turn to nutritionists for advice on creating healthy, balanced lifestyles. Unlike some states, Oregon does not require nutritionists to adhere to licensing or any other regulatory restrictions. However, all nutritionists that intend to become dieticians or use the title of “licensed dietician” must become licensed to legally practice here.
Students that are interested in becoming a nutritionist in Oregon should begin building a solid career by earning a bachelor’s degree in a nutrition-related major. Since there are no regulations governing this profession, most clients and colleagues will gauge a nutritionist’s expertise based on their educational background. Fortunately, Oregon is home to state universities that offer degree programs for aspiring nutritionists. These programs typically instruct in career applicable subjects such as biostatistics, medical ethics, physiology, and human nutrition.
Nutritionist Degree options in Oregon include:
Jobseekers will benefit from continued job growth in the coming decade. According to the Oregon Employment Department, in 2012, there were 586 dieticians and nutritionists employed in the state. However, by 2022, this number is expected to climb to 684, which indicates a 16.7% change in employment. Job opportunities are typically more abundant in areas of higher populations. In 2012, the Oregon regions with the largest number of employed dieticians and nutritionists included:
The Oregon Employment Department reports that dieticians and nutritionists employed throughout the state in 2014 received an average hourly wage of $29.77 and an average annual salary of $61,932. However, pay expectations typically fluctuate across geographical locations. For example, average wages and salaries for nutritionists working in different regions in Oregon include:
Although literally hundreds of industries now hire nutritionists in Oregon, currently the top industry employer in the state is the health care and social assistance industry. Institutes that fall under this category include offices of physicians, outpatient care centers, general medical and surgical hospitals, and nursing care facilities. These local employers that have recently advertised jobs seeking dieticians and nutritionists in Oregon:
Nutritionists looking for job placement assistance or occupational support services are encouraged to join a professional association that caters to nutritionists and dieticians. These organizations are specifically designed to promote career excellence by providing members with opportunities in education, training, certification, employment, professional networking, and industry event participation. Professional associations open to nutritionists in Oregon include:
Oregon is nearly tied for first place as being the state with the highest percentage of residents who get daily exercise, according to the non-profit Trust for America's Health (Colorado was 0.1 percentage points ahead in 2014). The state worked hard to achieve the lowest obesity rate for 10-to-17-year-olds in the nation– just 9.9% in 2011. However the fact that nearly 10 percent of high school students in the state are obese highlights the fact that our state has plenty of room for improvement.
According to the Saif Corporation, Oregon's not-for-profit state-chartered workers' compensation insurance company, the state ranks 25th in the US when measured by these well-being domains: emotional health, work environment, healthy behavior habits, and physical health. These domains are exactly what health coaches specialize in. That is why Oregon's health coaches will play an integral role in achieving the goals of the Oregon Healthiest State Initiative.
Originally conceived in 2013, by 2015 the initiative had over 70 participating organizations. The Healthiest State Initiative has identified six priority issues that need to be addressed to achieve the goal of being ranked first in the nation for having the highest overall level of well being in the nation by the year 2020:
These priority issues are a health coach's forte, and highlight why health coaches are in high demand in this state. There are broad sectors of Oregon that demand the services of health coaches. Private individuals want to live long, happy, healthy lives, while state government and business value health coaches for reducing medical expenses and keeping the workforce strong.
Oregon Healthiest State Initiative partner organizations include diverse stakeholders that include major corporate employers, non-profit organizations and more:
As a profession, health coaching has emerged through a recent understanding about the importance of striking the right balance between nutrition, exercise, stress management, and work. This is a diverse and growing field, so there is no one specific credential, degree program, or national certification required to become a health coach. However, meeting employer and client expectations almost always involves earning a relevant college degree or national certification.
In a state like Oregon, it's important that you can stand out next to your fellow health coaches with competitive credentials. This usually means earning a bachelor’s degree in a relevant major along with professional certification. Earning a relevant degree and certification involves being well-versed in these types of topics:
Degree Options – Associate's, Bachelor's, and Master's Degrees
There are a number of colleges and universities in Oregon that provide relevant on-campus degree programs for health coaches. You can also find relevant degree options with national schools offering online enrollment options for Oregon residents.
Associate's Degree Programs – Some entry-level positions are available with a two-year degree:
Bachelor's Degree Programs – Bachelor’s degrees represent the most common degree requirement for health coach jobs:
Master's Degree Programs – If you already have a degree in another field, consider applying transferrable credits towards a master’s degree program:
Earning a relevant degree is a good option to ensure a strong foundation going forward in your career. This holds true whether it's your first time in college or if you already have a bachelor's degree and want to apply prior credits towards a new degree.
Health Coach Certification Programs
Certification from a professional national organization is another way you can meet client and employer expectations.
Right now the American Council on Education (ACE) is the only organization in the country that is accredited through the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). The ACE health coach program offers three certifications that are tailored to your professional goals as a health coach:
You can find detailed information about these programs in the ACE Certification Candidate Handbook.
The International Coach Federation (ICF) is another leading organization dedicated to certifying health coaches around the world, setting a high professional standard and offering independent certification. The ICF offers several different credentialing options for coaches including:
Health coaches have been an integral part of making and keeping Oregonians healthy. Individuals value these professionals for improving their enjoyment and quality of life. The government values health coaches for providing preventative care that ultimately reduces health care costs. Private companies value health coaches because they keep the workforce healthy, reducing sick days and improving productivity.
Examples of major Oregon employers who have been known to hire health coaches for their workforces include:
The following job vacancy announcements, sourced in August 2016, represent the types of employment opportunities available to properly credentialed health coaches in Oregon. These job vacancy announcements are shown for illustrative purposes only and are not meant to represent job offers or provide an assurance of employment.
Glow Health Coaching in Portland – This is an example of what it looks like to start your own business as a health coach. Owner Julia Sarver realized something wasn't right after she found her daily energy levels tanking. After seeing a practitioner she realized she was gluten and lactose intolerant, and now works as a health coach who focuses on nutrition and diet to help her clients have abundant amounts of energy. Sarver completed her training at an out-of-state nutrition institution and is also certified by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners.
Edie Summers Health Coach in Portland – This is another example of someone who started their own health coaching business. In this case, Edie Summers markets herself for corporate wellness plans and group health coaching, as well as individuals. Summers hosts a radio show about health and wellness, has written a book about overcoming chronic illness, and publishes a regular newsletter. Her résumé includes:
Wellness Coach with Moda Health in Portland – This healthcare company is seeking a wellness coach to develop behavior-based coaching programs to improve nutrition, physical activity, and stress management of clients. As the incumbent you also work with company clients to develop healthy workplace culture at work sites. You need to have either five years of related experience or at least a bachelor's degree. Any of the following certifications are preferred:
You can find additional resources and ideas about starting your career as a health coach with any of the following government agencies, professional organizations, and nonprofits:
Government Resources and Programs
Professional Organizations and Coalitions