In September 2012, the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention released a report documenting South Carolina’s nutrition, physical activity, and obesity profile. The reported revealed that among the state’s adult population, 66.9% were overweight and 31.5% were obese. These conditions are often linked to diets lacking nutritional content. By helping state residents develop healthier lifestyle changes, nutritionists continue to combat the prevalence of destructive weight conditions in South Carolina.
One of the reasons that nutritionists are inclined to practice in South Carolina is due the state’s lack of regulatory restrictions. Nutritionists are not bound by any licensing, education or training mandates. However, nutritionists are legally prevented from using the professional titles of “dietician” or “licensed dietician” as all dieticians are required to obtain licensure to practice here.
Although there are no educational requirements for nutritionists in South Carolina, these professional often earn at least a field-related bachelor’s degree to show occupational prowess and credibility. Undergraduate and graduate degree earners are also better equipped to contend in today’s competitive job market. According to the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce, candidates looking for dietician and nutritionists jobs in 2014 had the following levels of education:
Students searching for nutrition degree programs in South Carolina should locate one that is accredited by an agency like the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). Upon enrolling in a nutrition program, students can expect courses to cover topics in child nutrition, education research, community nutrition, data analysis, and food management. Examples of popular nutrition degree programs in South Carolina include:
The South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce predicts that the number of dieticians and nutritionists employed in the state will rise from 796 in 2012 to 941 by 2022. As of June 2014, the greatest number of job openings for dieticians and nutritionists were in Richland, Florence, and Laurens. Examples of local employers that hire nutritionists in South Carolina:
In 2013, the entry-level annual salary for nutritionists working in South Carolina was $28,740. Professionals earning median salaries received $44,520/yr. while experienced nutritionists were paid closer to $55,020/yr. On the other hand, the entry-level hourly wage for nutritionists in the state was $13.81. The median hourly wage for these professionals was $21.41/hr. while experienced workers received closer to $26.45/hr. The regions that boasted the highest salaries for nutritionists:
A great way for nutritionists to get more involved in the nutrition community is by becoming an active member in a professional association dedicated to nutrition. These organizations are information hubs designed to help nutritionists forge business connections, receive occupational news updates, learn about certification options, attend industry events, participate in training programs, and obtain job placements. Professional associations for nutritionists in South Carolina:
In 2014, state leaders made history when they unveiled South Carolina's first-ever statewide obesity action plan. This came in response to SC's ranking as the seventh-most obese state in the nation. Health coaches are an important part of implementing this plan. They work on the front lines to encourage nutritious eating habits, regular exercise, and healthy lifestyle habits. As the main sponsor of this action plan, the Department of Health and Environmental Control identified four key areas where health coaches can make a difference in the fight against obesity: in communities, in the workplace, in health care, and in schools.
Two years later in 2016, health coaches have helped to bring South Carolina's obesity levels down to the point where we are now. Still, we find ourselves in the unenviable position of being the 10th-most obese state in the nation. As any health coach will tell you, losing weight is a slow process that happens over years and takes continuing perseverance. And obesity isn't the only thing that needs to improve. According to the Trust for America's Health, South Carolina still faces many other challenges:
A look at these statistics tells you there is plenty of demand – and need – for health coaches throughout the state.
There is no standardized set of qualifications you must meet to become a health coach so there are many different majors you can choose from. As you talk with employers and potential clients you will find a general preference or requirement for a relevant college degree, professional certification, or both. It's also important to consider these qualifications as you look towards your long-term career goals.
Studying for a degree or professional certification as a health coach entails covering topics like these:
Relevant College Degree Programs
You can find relevant health coach degree programs both online and at campus locations throughout South Carolina. If you already have a degree in another subject you may be able to apply your prior credits towards your new program.
Associate's Degree Programs – Entry-level jobs are often available with a two-year associate’s degree:
Bachelor's Degree Programs – A bachelor’s degree is 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 relevant graduate degree:
Professional Health Coach Certification Programs
Professional health coach certifications are offered by a variety of national organizations with varying levels of accreditation. Typically, earning a certification involves completing coursework over a period of weeks or months and then passing a final exam. Each sponsoring organization sets its own rules about certification requirements and program admittance.
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 designed to meet your professional career goals:
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 producing a large network of qualified health coaches around the world, enforcing high standards for the profession and offering independent certification. The organization provides several different credentialing options for coaches including:
Health coaches can start their own business or work for an employer, usually in the healthcare, workplace wellness, or public health fields. Universities, government HR departments, and corporations frequently hire health coaches as a benefit to their workforces. Examples of companies in South Carolina that have been known to hire health coaches include:
The following job vacancy announcements, sourced in August 2016, represent the types of employment opportunities available to properly credentialed health coaches in South 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 and Wellness Coach with Plus One in Gaffney – As a health coach with Plus One you work on-site with employees who are participating in its wellness program. You are responsible for developing and maintaining an effective wellness coaching relationship client by client. This includes using motivational techniques and compassion. Your goal is to achieve positive lifestyle behavior changes, including in the areas of weight management, tobacco cessation, healthy nutrition, physical fitness, and stress management.
You need the following qualifications to qualify for this position:
Health Coach with Provant in Moncks Corner – Provant is one of the leading nationwide employers in this field, acting as the go-between for corporations with workforce wellness plans and health coaches. When working with clients at their workplace you are responsible for face-to-face health coaching, conducting body fat and cholesterol checks, taking blood pressure readings, and always maintaining a professional demeanor. As a successful applicant you should have experience with tobacco cessation programs and weight loss management.
To qualify for this position you need one of the following credentials:
Health Coaching with Stephanie Burg – Like many South Carolina health coaches who operate their own business independently, Stephanie Burg got into this field as someone who needed coaching herself. After going from being too skinny to gaining 30 pounds Burg's body was beginning to exhibit signs of protest that she ignored. Eventually health issues forced her to drastically modify her habits, and she found a whole new path and career as a health coach. Now she shares her methods of increasing energy and maintaining a healthy weight with her clients.
Burg's résumé includes these qualifications:
Local Resources for Health Coaches
You can find additional resources that relate to a career in health coaching in South Carolina through government agencies and programs, as well as professional organizations:
Government Agencies and Initiatives