Nutrition therapists, also called nutritionists in some settings, assist people who have specific health problems through assessment and counseling about their diet. Some of the health conditions that clients of nutrition therapists might have include depression, fatigue, eating disorders, weight management, digestive conditions and bowel disorders. Instead of solely focusing on how diet impacts the client’s lifestyle, a nutrition therapist will take into account a myriad of potential causes for the client’s poor nutrition.
Job Description for Nutrition Therapists
Nutrition therapists typically work in a one-on-one setting with clients. Milieus in which they may work include private practice, within a hospital or long-term care center, in schools, and in fitness centers, just to name a few. Some of the things that a nutrition therapist can be expected to do in the performance of their job includes:
- Conducting nutritional assessments on clients
- Counseling clients on proper nutrition and diet
- Helping clients to develop nutritional meal plans
- Educating clients on healthy eating
Medical conditions that nutritionists may be asked to help treat include (but are not limited to):
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Kidney disease
- Eating disorders
- Depression and anxiety
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Crohn’s disease
Education for Nutrition Therapists
Education for nutrition therapists begins with the attainment of a bachelor’s degree, typically in a field such as Nutrition Science, Dietetics or Nutrition. Coursework that one will take in the pursuit of nutrition therapist education includes:
- Food science
- Clinical nutrition care
- Anatomy and physiology
- Nutrition throughout the lifespan
- Disease and nutrition
After obtaining a bachelor’s degree, some nutrition therapists opt to go on for a graduate degree, such as Master of Science in Nutrition, or even a Doctorate in Nutrition. Although a graduate degree is not needed to break into the nutrition therapist field, it can help open up advanced positions within the field, including supervisory ones.
The following bachelors and Master’s programs offer career-focused instruction delivered by trained nutritionists with experience in the field. Find out more what each individual course of study offers through the locations below.
Purdue Global's Bachelor of Science in Nutrition Program is an approved holistic nutrition education program through the National Association of Nutrition Professionals (NANP).
American University offers two different programs focused on Nutrition and Health. Their 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. Or Earn your Master of Science in Health Promotion Management from AU’s award-winning program in just 20 months with $10K available in scholarships upon enrollment (qualifier is a 3.0 GPA).
UNC's MPH Nutrition concentration prepares students to provide, evaluate and communicate nutritional and dietary guidance that improves individual and population-wide health outcomes. In addition to developing their knowledge of nutrition science, students will explore behavior change, communication, counseling and the effects of dietary culture on individuals and communities.
Bay Path University's health and wellness certificates build the knowledge, skills, and experience you need to upskill your abilities in your profession or to provide a robust concentration to your degree program for a specific role. Learn more about the Certificate in Food Science and Safety certificate.
If you want to work in fitness and nutrition, take the first step toward a new career with one of Penn Foster's accredited, online fitness and training programs. These affordable programs are all offered online, and can be taken at your own pace.
Grand Canyon University offers an M.S. in Nutrition and Dietetics.
Winthrop University offers an Online Master of Science in Human Nutrition and an Online Master of Science in Sport and Fitness Administration
Certification for Nutrition Therapists
While there is no license or certification that states one is a nutrition therapist, some states do license nutritionists who have completed the proper education and examinations. There are two main certification boards for nutrition therapists, each bestowing its own credentials:
Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR)
Some who wish to become nutrition therapists opt to follow the educational requirements of the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) of the American Dietetic Association and earn the Registered Dietitian (RD) or Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) credential. Receiving this certification involves completing an approved bachelor’s degree program in nutrition and dietetics and passing an examination.
Clinical Nutrition Certification Board (CNCB)
Others who wish to work as nutrition therapists opt for certification as a Certified Clinical Nutritionist (CCN) by the Clinical Nutrition Certification Board (CNCB). This certification is designed for nutrition therapists who pursue post-graduate studies in clinical nutrition or already have graduate degrees, and involves passing an examination.
Check the requirements for your state to see if it would benefit you, or if you are required, to become an RD, an RDN or a CCN in order to work as a nutrition therapist. Earning certifications such as these will open up more employment options for nutrition therapists.
Salary Expectations and Job Outlook for Nutrition Therapists
According to the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of May 2018, dietitians and nutritionists (a group which includes nutrition therapists) across the country averaged an annual salary of $60,370, or $29.02 per hour. This is the median salary for bachelor degree-trained nutrition therapists. Those holding graduate degrees can earn even higher annual salaries. The top-paying state for nutrition therapists, per the BLS, is California, at $74,060 annually.
The BLS also notes that job opportunities for nutrition therapists are expected to increase by 11 percent from 2018 through 2028. This is faster than the average expected growth for all occupations.