Becoming a Nutritionist in Indiana
In 2010, Indiana State Department of Health officials became concerned about the health and eating habits of its citizens and produced the Indiana Comprehensive Nutrition and Physical Activity Plan, 2010 – 2020.
Goals of the highly publicized and widely distributed report emphasize improving the health of Hoosiers by reducing obesity (65 percent of Indiana’s adults were found to be overweight or obese), increasing both exercise and fruit/vegetable consumption, providing healthier school lunches and decreasing the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages. The report has increased the demand for nutritionists in Indiana. The following tells you what you are required to do in order to become a practicing nutritionist in Indiana.
Nutritionist Degree Certification and Licensing in Indiana
A bachelor’s degree or better is the minimum education requirement for both dieticians and nutritionists. As in most states dieticians, but not nutritionists, must be licensed and registered. However, nutritionists can be certified, which is sometimes necessary to receive insurance reimbursements for services rendered. It is noted that Indiana’s governor recently vetoed a bill passed by the state legislature which would have limited certification to registered dieticians, excluding nutritionists from Medicare and other insurance payments.
In 2013, 127 students graduated from Indiana colleges or universities with degrees in nutrition. The following Indiana cities have colleges or universities which offer nutrition degrees:
- Terre Haute
- West Lafayette
You can earn a bachelor’s degree in nutrition at the schools in all of these cities; four of them have master’s programs and.one offers a two-year Associate’s degree. Four schools have nutritionist certification programs.
In addition to general education requirements, courses you might take as a nutrition major include but are not limited to:
- Introduction to Food
- Human Nutrition and Advanced Nutrition
- Food chemistry
- Community Nutrition
- Life Cycle Nutrition
- Medical Terminology
- Research in Nutrition/Statistics
- Nutritional Epidemiology
- Nutrition and Cancer Prevention
- Nutrition and Genetics
- Appetite, Metabolism and Obesity
Post-baccalaureate nutritionist certification programs generally require two semesters of courses that improve your communication skills and deepen your knowledge of:
- Food Science
- Optimization of Health through Nutrition
- Changing Nutritional Needs from Childhood through Old Age
- Nutrition for Individuals with Diabetes, Heart Disease, Eating Disorders or Alcohol/Drug Addiction
- Application of Management Principles to Nutrition and Food Service
- Problem Solving in Nutrition
- Applied nutritional Research
Purdue University Global's Bachelor of Science in Nutrition Program is an approved holistic nutrition education program through the National Association of Nutrition Professionals (NANP).
UNC's Online MPH With Nutrition Concentration. UNC's top-ranked public health school offers an online MPH with Nutrition concentration. Complete in 20 months. Bachelor's degree required. No GRE required. Enroll in our January or May 2022 cohort and receive a $12,000 scholarship..
Arizona State University's Nutrition Bachelors and Masters level programs online prepare students for careers in Health Education, Community Health, Food Analysis and more.
George Washington University's Online Master's in Integrative Medicine with a Concentration in Nutrition specialize in promoting health and wellness through nutrition.
American University’s online Master of Science in Nutrition Education will prepare you to become an influential leader in nutrition education and advocacy while promoting nutrition and healthy lifestyle choices in your community and beyond.
Nutritionist Job Description and Job Opportunities in Indiana
Your job functions as a nutrition might include any of the following:
- Evaluate the nutritional needs of patients
- Counsel individuals regarding their nutritional needs
- Design weight-loss, weight gain or special needs diet plans
- Create meal plans for patients in hospitals, rehabilitation clinics, nursing homes, retirement facilities, spas, etc.
- Evaluate nutritional contents of processed and other foods
- Plan school lunches
- Teach nutrition classes
- Speak about nutrition to organizations, clubs, civic groups, etc.
- Research nutritional issues
- Write reports, newspaper/magazine articles
- Develop a specialty, such as Sports Nutritionist or Pet/Animal Nutritionist
As a nutritionist you will have an extremely broad array of job opportunities from which to choose. You will have to decide if you wish to be self-employed or employed by others. Self-employed nutritionists counsel individual clients, write about nutrition issues, open a health food store or create healthy food products.
Potential employers for nutritionists include:
- Hospitals, medical clinics, rehab centers, physician offices
- Federal or state food/nutrition agencies
- Research labs
- Public school districts
- Colleges and universities
- Food manufacturers
- Humanitarian/refugee organizations
- Spas, hotels, resorts
- Fitness centers
- Wellness centers
- Veterinarians / Zoos
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for nutritionists in Indiana was $59,340 as of May 2021. The BLS projects that in the ten-year period leading up to 2028, the number of jobs for Indiana nutritionists will increase by 12%. During this period, the state will see about 100 annual job openings for nutritionists due to a blend of new job growth, retirements, and natural job turnover.*
Nutritionist Organization or Associations in Indiana
Indiana School Nutrition Association – dedicated to the promotion of healthy child nutrition in Indiana schools.
Indiana Association of Nutrition and Food Service Professionals (ANFP) – dedicated to providing optimum nutritional care through food service and management.
Health Coach Careers in Indiana
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle of physical activity and a nutritious diet is not always an easy feat. The residents of Indianapolis struggled to such a significant degree with maintaining healthy habits that the community ranked last among the nation’s fifty largest metropolitan areas according to the American College of Sports Medicine’s 2016 American Fitness Index.
However, this negative record of decreased health motivated several organizations and companies in the Indianapolis area to provide health initiatives and sponsored events, encouraging individuals to enact behavioral changes when it comes to nutrition and physical activity. A few of these organizations included Jump IN for Healthy Kids and Health by Design, both of which employ the services of health coaches to combat obesity.
Jump IN for Healthy Kids focuses primarily upon fighting obesity in children. The organization provides an excellent resource for families looking to encourage healthy habits in their children. Jump IN’s approach is to address the different contexts in which children are raised. Jump IN builds this approach from the socio-ecological model of health behavior. This model indicates that the family is limited to health choices that are available in their surrounding communities. Therefore, if health improvement resources are not readily available in their surrounding environments, families are less likely to make behavioral changes.
The goal of Health by Design is similar to that of Jump IN for Healthy Kids in that it attempts to initiate healthy habits by introducing neighborhoods and communities to forms of transportation that encourage physical activity. For example, Health by Design has been responsible for providing more appropriate bike paths and walking paths throughout various communities in Indiana while reducing dependence on automobiles. These two organizations recognize the importance of developing environments that encourage behavioral changes in order to improve the overall health of families in Indiana.
Becoming a Health Coach: Earning a Relevant Degree and Professional Certification
Considering health coaching is a field that isn’t subject to licensing regulations, there is no specific path to becoming a health coach. If you choose to pursue a career in health coaching you are given the freedom to select the degree that best fits your interests and specialties. As you begin to explore employment opportunities in this field, you will find the requirements for health coaching jobs will vary from one position to another depending on the employer you choose to work for. Oftentimes, your employers will allow you the opportunity to complete all of the education and/or certification requirements when you are hired or shortly thereafter according to a designated time frame. Several suitable degrees and standard certification for employment are listed below.
Associate’s degrees in areas like those shown here are suitable for some entry-level health coach jobs:
- Health and Wellness
- Social Work
- Exercise Science
- Health Education
A bachelor’s degree in one of these areas is the most common qualification employers look for and is necessary for most health coach career opportunities:
- Health Education
- Nutrition and Dietetics
- Health Promotion
- Behavioral Health
- Exercise Physiology
A master’s degree in one of these areas would be considered a very strong qualification, and would go beyond the general expectations of most employers:
- Social Work
- Public Health
- Health Promotion
When you pursue health coaching as a career, you would typically be required to complete some level of certification. The certification you are expected to hold will vary according to the employer or company you choose to work for. The certification you complete will serve as a field-specific credential denoting your coaching expertise. Certification provides you with credential illustrating authority within the specialized scope of practice for health coaching.
American Council on Exercise (ACE) – ACE certification is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) and provides “standard” or “premium” self-study packages to prepare for the examination that leads to the Health Coach Certification. Certification through ACE must be renewed every 2 years by completing continuing education approved by ACE. The ACE Certification Candidate Handbook provides thorough details concerning the certification examination and maintenance process.
Health Coaching in Indiana: Career Paths and Job Opportunities
Typically, the job market in any given state will vary according to the health coaching community and organizations currently active within that state. Within the state of Indiana, there is a substantial variety of health coaching jobs available particularly in the Indianapolis area. Regardless of where the job may be available, each of the job qualifications will vary according to the expectations of each individual employer and the company they work for. This variety allows you to find a position that best fits your experience and current qualifications. Furthermore, many of these positions will allow space for you to build upon your credentials and education while you work.
The following job vacancy announcements represent the types of employment opportunities available to properly credentialed health coaches in Indiana. 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 for Bloomington Hospital – Indianapolis, IN
You will provide education and health coaching for participants of the Healthy Results program.
- Bachelor’s degree in health promotion, health education, nursing, or another health-related field
- Health coaching certification strongly preferred or achieved within the year of being hired
- Health education certification strongly preferred
- Computer proficiency required
Health Promoter for MissionPoint – Indianapolis, IN
You will work directly with your team of Health Partners, registered nurses and master’s prepared social workers, as they coach and educate members of MissionPoint.
- Associate’s degree in wellness, social work, healthcare or a related field or the equivalent combination of experience (3 years) and high school equivalency
- Bachelor’s degree in social work, healthcare, wellness or another related field preferred
- Certified wellness coach or similar designation preferred
- At least one year of work experience required, preferably in healthcare or wellness
- Excellent interpersonal skills with a background in coaching or working closely with patients
Health Educator for Evolent Health – Indianapolis, IN
You will correspond with patients and caregivers encouraging patients to engage in the program. You will coach, educate, and correspond with patients often telephonically and digitally.
- At least two years of experience with commercial, Medicaid and/or Medicare chronic populations to provide education on health promotion, education, wellness, care coordination, and lifestyle related topics
- Experience with telephonic health coaching or educating or working in a health plan setting strongly preferred
- Registered dietitian, RN or LPN with bachelor of science in health education, respiratory therapist, community health education, health promotion, or equivalent education
- Health coach certification completed prior to being hired or within two years of being hired
- Computer proficiency preferred
Additional Resources for Indiana’s Health Coaches
Indiana State Department of Health
The Health Foundation of Greater Indianapolis
Indiana Environmental Health Association
Marion County Public Health Department
Jump IN for Healthy Kids
Health by Design
Indiana University Bloomington – Public Health Partners
*2021 US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary figures for dietitians and nutritionists. Job growth projections from the US Department of Labor-sponsored resource, Projections Central. Figures are based on state data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed April 2022.