State Requirements for Nutrition and Dietitian Fields

West Virginia

Becoming a Nutritionist in West Virginia

The West Virginia Board of Licensed Dietitians is a regulatory and disciplinary body that has the sole authority to issue licenses to practice dietetics in the State of West Virginia.
At this time, West Virginia does not license nutritionists, although the scope of licensed dieticians includes performing medical nutrition therapy, performing nutritional assessments, performing nutrition counseling and education, and developing and administering nutritional care standards.

Nutritionists are playing a crucial role in the development and implementation of the “West Virginia Everyday…” plan. Backed by the West Virginia Office of Healthy Lifestyles, the statewide plan aspires to create a more healthy existence for its residents through the promotion of nutrition-based objectives in schools, workplaces, and homes across the state. With the continued support of health care professionals and health educators, like nutritionists, the West Virginia Everyday… initiative hope to reach optimum goals of:

  • Reduce the obesity rate among adults in the state from 27.7% to 20%
  • Reduce the proportion of overweight children and adolescents by 5%
  • Increase the percentage of adults that eat at least five serving of fruits and vegetables daily to 35%
  • Increase the percentage of adults that eat at least five serving of fruits and vegetables daily from 18.7% to 35%
  • Increase the percentage of adolescents that eat at least five serving of fruits and vegetables daily from 20.6% to 25%

Many people are under the impression that “nutritionist” is synonymous with “dietitian.” However, these professional titles each hold different legal implications in West Virginia. According to state law, anyone may provide nutrition care to the public and be referred to as a nutritionist. Therefore, there are no regulations restricting these professionals. However, nutritionists that intend to advertise themselves as dietitians, or licensed dietitians, must be licensed by the West Virginia Board of Licensed Dietitians to practice in this state.

Nutritionist Degree Options in West Virginia

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One of the best pathways to becoming a nutritionist in West Virginia is by completing a course of education and training that is equivalent to the licensure requirements of nearby states. For example, nutritionists in Pennsylvania must qualify to take the Certification Board for Nutrition Specialists (CNS) examination to be licensed. To qualify to take the CNS examination, candidates must possess:

  • A master or doctoral degree in nutrition or a doctoral-level degree in a clinical healthcare field that includes the following:
    • At least 15 semester hours in nutrition and metabolism
    • At least 6 semester hours in biochemistry
    • At least 15 semester hours in clinical or life sciences (with at least 3 semester hours in anatomy/physiology)

Individuals seeking to learn how to become a nutritionist in West Virginia may choose to first pursue a bachelor degree in nutrition sciences. This degree program involves studying the role of nutrients in the growth, development, health, and well-being of humans. As such, a degree in nutrition science provides students with a strong foundation in science as to learn how to understand relationships between human health and eating behavior, food, and nutrients.
A nutritional science or related program, regardless of whether it is a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, or doctoral degree, is a blend study in the natural sciences, social sciences, and health sciences. These programs include instruction in biochemistry, the chemistry of food, food science, community nutrition, physiology, psychology, dietetics, food preservation, and nutrient functions, sources, and requirements.

Nutritionists are not legally obligated to fulfill any educational requirements to qualify for jobs in West Virginia. However, national studies by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that approximately 40% of all nutritionists and dietitians and nutritionists between the ages of 25 and 44 hold a bachelor degree while nearly 35% of them hold a master, doctoral or professional degree.  As such, nutritionists are encouraged to establish occupational legitimacy by graduating from college degree program in a nutrition-based major.

Potential students exploring degree options in West University should focus on universities and colleges that offer nutrition programs that are accredited by a recognized agency like the Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Popular undergraduate and graduate degree programs found in the state include:

  • Bachelor of Science in Human Nutrition and Foods
  • Master of Science in Human Nutrition
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Animal and Nutritional Sciences

Students that enroll these programs can expect coursework in the following subjects:

  • Food Science
  • Microbiology
  • Nutrition
  • Physiology
  • Food Service Management
  • Biology

Employment and Wage Trends in West Virginia

The practice of nutrition is a broad one, as nutritionists may work in a clinical nutrition setting, such as in hospitals, long-term care, and outpatient facilities; they make work in a food and nutrition management setting, such as in businesses, schools, and hospitals; or they may work in a public health nutrition setting, such as in a public health department, congregate meals program, or a government program.
Just a few of the organizations/businesses that likely employ nutritionists in West Virginia include:

  • Hampshire Memorial Hospital
  • Northwest Hospital and Medical Center
  • HealthSouth Corporation
  • Thomas Memorial Hospital
  • Monongalia General Hospital
  • WV University Healthcare
  • Morrison Management Specialists (Foodservice management and support services)
  • West University Medical Corporation

Job opportunities for nutritionists often present themselves through professional networking, which is an important part of being a member of a professional association, such as:

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the number of nutritionists employed in West Virginia to increase from 440 in 2010 to 490 in 2020. This employment projection signifies a 12% growth change over a ten-year period. Jobseekers looking for nutritionist positions can anticipate roughly 20 annual jobs openings in the field. Nutritionist jobs are often found in hospitals, senior living facilities, rehabilitation centers, long-term care institutions, and colleges and universities. Local employers may include:

  • Extendicare Health Services, Inc.
  • Golden Living Centers
  • Genesis Health Care
  • WV University Healthcare
  • Compass Group USA
  • Vanguard Healthcare Services
  • Sodexo

Nutritionist Salary in West Virginia

Although nutritionist salaries vary among these settings in West Virginia, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2013, revealed that the metropolitan area of Winchester, VA-WV, ranked fourth in the nation for its concentration of nutritionists jobs, and nutritionists there earned a mean, annual salary of $56,740.

The national median hourly wage for nutritionist is $26.88 and the median annual wage is currently $55,900. By comparison, West Virginian nutritionists earn closer to a median hourly wage of $25.01 and a median wage of $52,000. To illustrate the diverse earning potential for nutrition professionals across the state, here are the most recent wage percentiles for nutritionists and dietitians:

  • 10 percentile--$13.95/hr. or $29,000/yr.
  • 25 percentile--$18.71/hr. or $38,900/yr.
  • 75 percentile--$32.19/hr. or $67,000/yr.
  • 90 percentile--$36.04/hr. or $75,000/yr.

Professional Associations in West Virginia

  • West Virginia Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
  • West Virginia School Nutrition Association
  • West Virginia Center for Nutrition Advocacy

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