State Requirements for Nutrition and Dietitian Fields

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Nutrition Educator Career

Those who are interested in working in the nutrition field in a different capacity, educating others about proper diet and healthy nutrition practices, should consider becoming a nutrition educator. Nutrition educators often work one-on-one with clients of various ages, instructing them on nutritional programs and techniques that can improve their health and their lives. Nutrition educators are usually considered to be post-secondary educators, working beyond the high school level.

Job Description for Nutrition Educators

Nutrition educators may work within colleges and universities, as well as in corporations, hospitals, long-term care facilities, outpatient clinics, home care settings, and the community. It is the job of a nutrition educator to develop, carry out, and market nutrition education programs and services. They may research and write policies and programs, study and evaluate existing nutritional education programs, market nutrition education in the media and the community, conduct in-service trainings for staff, and be experts at presenting programs to audiences.
Skills and tasks that are important for nutrition educators to possess and master in order to succeed at their jobs include:

  • Health promotion and maintenance
  • Presentation skills
  • Training
  • Listening
  • Teaching
  • Quality management
  • Written communication
  • Research skills

Education for Nutrition Educators

In order to become a nutrition educator, first one must obtain a bachelor’s degree, preferably in nutrition, nutrition science, dietetics or a related field. Most nutrition educator positions require a graduate degree, such as a Master of Science in Nutritional Science or even a Doctorate in Nutritional Science. Graduate-level coursework that is usually found within such programs may include:

  • Dietetics
  • Global food systems for health
  • Human nutrition evidence for policy making
  • Physiology and metabolism
  • Public health nutrition
  • Food and business nutrition
  • Supervised internship
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Benedictine University's Online Master’s Degrees in Nutrition and Wellness programs offer an advanced education in nutrition science with a focus on promoting health and wellness.

Certification for Nutrition Educators

Professional Teaching Certification

Nutrition educators working in community or outpatient settings typically do not need professional certification, beyond a graduate degree, in order to obtain a job. For those who choose to work in a college or university teaching setting, however, teaching experience will be necessary. Many nutrition educators will obtain teaching certification to enable them to work at the secondary level (high school) within their state in order to gain this teaching experience. Obtaining post-secondary teaching certification is also important for those who wish to work in academia. Certification involves completing the proper education and passing an examination. Check the teaching certification requirements for your state for more information.

Other Professional Certifications

Community nutrition educators may wish to seek various professional certification in order to make themselves more marketable. One such certification is the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) credential, offered by the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc. (NCHEC). In order to obtain this certification, one must pass an examination and satisfy continuing education requirements. Another valuable credential offered by NCHEC is their Master Certified Health Education Specialist (MCHES), which designates that its holder has a more advanced level of education and training in nutrition education.

Some nutrition educators opt to become certified as Registered Dietitians (RD) or Certified Clinical Nutritionists (CCN), by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) of the American Dietetic Association and the Clinical Nutrition Certification Board, respectively. Obtaining such certifications can open up a wide variety of nutrition educator positions and garner higher salaries, as well as entitle the credential bearer to eligibility for various other jobs in the nutrition and dietary field.

Salary Expectations and Job Outlook for Nutrition Educators

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) of the US Department of Labor, health educators, of which nutrition educators can be considered a part, earned an average annual salary of $46,080 in 2018. This salary increases with graduate education and years of experience, and can be as high as $61,883 or more. Additionally, job opportunities for nutrition educators are expected to grow by 11 percent between 2018 and 2028. This growth rate is much faster than the predicted growth rate for all other occupations. 

Researchers note that job opportunities for nutrition educators are even greater for candidates who speak a foreign language or are bilingual. Understanding other cultures can be important for working in community health centers with varied populations.

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