The obesity epidemic is continuing to wreak havoc on Wisconsin residents. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, by 2011, 27.7% of adults, 25.3% of high school students, and 30.6% of children between the ages of 2 and 4 were considered overweight or obese in the state. Today, nutrition professionals, including nutritionists, are partnering with the Department of Health Services to implement a comprehensive plan to reduce statewide obesity rates by 2020. This innovative health enterprise is referred to as the Wisconsin Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity Program.
In 2013 a proposed law restricting nutrition practices and professionals was struck down in Wisconsin. As a result, nutritionists working in this state are not presently required to obtain certification or licensure. However, it is illegal for nutritionists to use any titles or initials that misrepresent them as dietitians, licensed or certified dietitians, or any other certified or licensed nutrition professionals. Since the future of regulatory practices for nutritionists remains uncertain in Wisconsin, nutritionists that intend to work here are advised to stay abreast on legislative activity surrounding this profession.
Since nutritionists are not regulated by state agencies in Wisconsin, nutritionists are not required to acquire a post-secondary degree in order to practice here. Yet, studies by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics has found that approximately 75% of all dietitians and nutritionists between the ages of 25 and 44 hold either a undergraduate or graduate degree. This finding sets a national precedence for all nutritionists entering in the field in Wisconsin. As such, nutritionists should strive to graduate from a nutrition-related degree program that is accredited by a recognized accrediting body like Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics.
Pro-active students interested in jumpstarting their careers through formal education, will find no shortage of nutrition-based degree programs in Wisconsin. Boasting ten accredited nutrition schools, this state offers diverse program options in areas like human nutrition, nutritional science, and animal nutrition. Students that enroll in these degree programs will receive stellar instruction in courses of study such as nutrition, biochemistry, public health, eating behavior, and food science. Some example of nutrition programs in Wisconsin include:
One of the reasons that formal education is such a crucial component of a nutritionist’s career is due to the fierce competition over jobs in the field. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of employed dietitians and nutritionists in Wisconsin will rise from 1,440 in 201 to 1,660 in 2020. This projection equates to just a 15% growth change over an entire decade. Jobseekers are encouraged to research opportunities in hospitals, outpatient care centers, medical centers, nursing care facilities, and colleges and universities as these worksites typically hire nutritionists to compliment their staff. Local employers may include:
Wisconsin nutritionists are earning a comparable pay to the national standard. In 2013, the median hourly wage for nutritionists and dietitians in the United States was $26.88/hr. and the median annual wage was $55,900/yr. In that same year, nutritionists and dietitians employed in Wisconsin were receiving a median hourly wage of $25.90/hr. and a median annual wage of $53,900.