Becoming a Nutritionist in Vermont
According to the National Center for Chronic Disease and Health Promotion, approximately 40% of adults consume fruit two or more times daily and 30% consume vegetables three or more times daily in Vermont. As a result of unhealthy eating habits, 57.7% of the adult population is considered overweight while 23.2% are categorized as obese. By creating nutritional programs, conducting food research and providing counseling services, nutritionists are helping to integrate healthy eating choices into the daily lives Vermont residents.
The state government does not regulate the nutritionist profession in Vermont. As a result, nutritionists are not required to meet any education, certification or licensing requirements to deliver nutrition care in this state. However, nutritionists are restricted from using the professional title of “certified dietitian.” Only nutritionists that receive a license from the Vermont Office of Professional Regulation are granted the designation of dietitian.
Educational Degrees for Nutritionists in Vermont
Graduating from an undergraduate or graduate degree program from an accredited college or university is a crucial step in building a lucrative career in Vermont. By earning a degree, nutritionists demonstrate they have acquired the skills, knowledge and training needed to become competent nutrition professionals. Also, since nutritionist jobs are highly competitive, professionals with college degrees become more marketable to potential employers.
Educational statistics published by the United States of Bureau show the degree distribution among dietitians and nutritionists between the ages of 25 and 44 include:
- Associate degree—3.8%
- Bachelor degree—40.1%
- Master degree—27.6%
- Doctoral/professional degree—7.3%
There are currently three nutrition-specific degree programs available in Vermont. These degree options include: Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Food Sciences, Master of Science in Nutrition and Food Sciences, and Doctor of Philosophy in Animal, Nutrition, and Food Sciences. Students that enroll in these programs may complete courses in topics such as:
- Fundamentals of Nutrition
- Basic Concepts of Foods
- Sports Nutrition
- Principles of Food Technology
- Nutrition Education and Counseling
- Food Service and System Management
- Diet and Disease
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).
Arizona State University's Nutrition Bachelors and Masters level programs online prepare students for careers in Health Education, Community Health, Food Analysis and more.
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..
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.
Liberty University's Master of Science in Human Performance - Nutrition combines two areas that are a natural fit in the field of health and wellness to give you a deep understanding of the role nutrition plays in optimizing athletic performance.
The Vermont Department of Labor anticipates that the number of employed nutritionists in the state will rise from 192 in 2010 to 219 by 2020. Roughly half of all nutritionists find employment opportunities in the Burlington-South Burlington metropolitan area. Although nutritionist jobs can be located in outpatient care facilities, nursing homes and medical centers, hospitals continue to be the major employer for nutritionist in Vermont. Local employers may include:
- Compass Group USA
- Morrison Senior Living
- Springfield Hospital
- Kindred Healthcare
- Central Vermont Medical Center
In 2013, nutritionists in Vermont were earning an average hourly wage of $27.76 and an average annual wage of $57,750. However, since job earnings are largely contingent upon factors like education, credentials, training and experience, nutritionists are subject to a wide-range of wage and salary offers. Percentile wage statistics in Vermont are as follows:
- 10 percentile—$19.81/hr. or $41,210/yr.
- 25 percentile–$23.67/hr. or $49,240/yr.
- 50 percentile–$27.24/hr. or $56,660/yr.
- 75 percentile–$31.76/hr. or $66,070/yr.
- 90 percentile–$35.92/hr. or $74,720/yr.
Vermont Professional Associations for Nutritionists
Nutritionists can become more prominent leaders in the nutrition industry by pledging membership to professional associations. Nutritionists that join professional associations often offered exclusive benefits pertaining to industry events, continuing education programs, discussion forums, job boards, news information and networking opportunities. Professional associations for nutritionists in Vermont include:
- Vermont Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
- Association of Nutrition and Foodservice Professionals-Vermont Chapter
- Vermont Center for Nutrition Advocacy
- American Nutrition Association
- Vermont Dietetic Association
Health Coach in Vermont
In her 2014 piece that appeared on Vermont Public Radio, “Health Coaches Help Patients Battle Chronic Illness,” Charlotte Albright opens by noting that one out of every 10 health care dollars is spent to treat diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC-2014), around eight percent of all Vermonters have diabetes.
Searching for ways to reduce medical expenditures, Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center decided to experiment with a new approach to combating preventable disease like diabetes and turned to health coaches. Like other organizations looking for innovative ways to reduce healthcare costs and improve workforce well-being, Dartmouth Hitchcock’s health coaches have proven to be invaluable.
The personal allegory featured in Albright’s piece proves to be particularly representative of the situation of many Vermonters. With assistance from a health coach, one diabetes patient was able to identify factors that led to her diagnosis – junk food binge eating and a lack of exercise – and find ways to modify her behavior that included better nutrition and lifestyle changes. After three weeks with a health coach the client’s blood sugar level dropped by 20 percent and she lost 10 pounds.
With amazing results like this combined with the logical simplicity of health coaching – which doesn’t have to involve pills or visits to the doctor’s office – corporations, government agencies, and everyone else interested in Vermont’s population well-being are getting on board with the new health coach approach. That’s important, because the CDC notes the following statistics about our state:
- Nearly 20 percent of Vermonters are classified as being physically inactive
- About one in four Vermonters is obese
- More than 16 percent of Vermonters smoke cigarettes
- 13.2 percent of Vermont high schoolers are obese
- Less than 15 percent of Vermonters consumer their daily recommended amount of fruits
Becoming a Health Coach in Vermont: Earning a Relevant Degree and Professional Certification
Currently there are no statewide or national credential regulations governing the health coach profession. However you still need to contend with the preferences and requirements of your employers and clients, and that often means earning a college degree and professional certification.
Topics of study and degree majors relevant to this field include:
- Holistic health and wellness
- Exercise science, body mechanics, and exercise physiology
- Alternative and complimentary approaches to healthcare
- Motivational coaching techniques for groups and individuals
- Women’s health
- Obesity and weight management
- Nutrition and dietetic science
- Physio-relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation
- Biology, especially human biology
- Fitness and wellness
- Wellness counseling and assessment
Associate’s, Bachelor’s, and Master’s Degrees Options for Health Coaches
An undergraduate degree (associate’s or bachelor’s) in a relevant major provides a foundation of knowledge and subject area expertise. If you already have a degree in an unrelated field you may be able to apply credits towards your new program. The following degrees are among those offered at campus locations in Vermont. You can find similar options online offered through schools in other states that admit Vermont residents:
- Bachelor of Science (BS) in Athletic Training (Burlington)
- Bachelor of Science (BS) in Wellness and Alternative Medicine (Johnson)
- Bachelor of Science (BS) in Nutrition and Food Sciences (Burlington)
- Bachelor of Science (BS) in Exercise and Movement Science (Burlington)
- Bachelor of Science (BS) in Health Arts and Science (Plainfield)
- Master of Science in Dietetics (MSD) (Burlington)
- Master of Science (MS) in Food Systems (Burlington)
Non-Degree Health Coach Certification Programs
Professional certification is offered by national organizations in a range of relevant fields that would compliment your degree. National certification usually involves completing an online curriculum lasting several months and then passing a final examination.
Currently the American Council on Education (ACE) is the only organization offering health coach certification that is accredited through the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). ACE offers three certification options for health coaches:
- Health Coach Certification for Fitness Professionals
- Health Coach Certification for Health Care Professionals
- Health Coach Certification for Workplace Wellness
You can find detailed information about these programs in the ACE Certification Candidate Handbook.
The International Coach Federation (ICF) is another prominent organization that maintains a large network of qualified health coaches throughout the nation. ICF certification enforces a high bar for standards of the coaching profession. It provides several different credentialing options for coaches including:
- Associated Certified Coach (ACC)
- Professional Certified Coach (PCC)
- Master Certified Coach (MCC)
Career Paths for Health Coaches in Vermont
Health coaches traditionally work in one of these types of situations:
- As independent business owners who have their own health coaching business, or who are affiliated with a group of independent wellness practitioners
- As employees of organizations – corporations, government agencies, universities, etc – to help the workforces of these organizations stay healthy
- As part of health coach companies that serve a range of clients
- As part of healthcare organizations like hospitals, governmental public health organizations, and health insurance companies to provide health coaching to a targeted population
For example, these organizations in Vermont have been known to hire health coaches:
- Fletcher Allen Health Care
- University of Vermont
- Rutland Regional Medical Center
- Middlebury College
- Central Vermont Medical Center
- GE Aircraft Engines
- Southwestern Vermont Medical Center
- Killington Mountain Resort
The following job vacancy announcements, sourced in August 2016, represent the types of employment opportunities available to properly credentialed health coaches in Vermont. 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 with IBM in Essex Junction – As a health coach with IBM you are responsible for working one-on-one with clients as well as leading group classes that promote wellness. Your duties in this position include developing personalized wellness plans, motivational coaching, and implementing strategies to discourage bad habits like smoking.
Preferred applicants hold any of these credentials:
- Relevant certification such as health coach, nutritionist, or fitness instructor
- Relevant degree in fields like dietetics, nutrition, exercise science, or wellness development
- Relevant work experience
Wellness Health Coach with Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington – In this position your primary duty is to engage with employees participating in this organization’s wellness program. To engage with your clients you will use techniques like motivational interviewing, team goal setting, and behavior modification methods. Generally you help your clients to achieve their personal wellness goals. Other duties include conducting biometric screenings and wellness education.
Preferred applicants have experience in motivational interviewing and knowledge of the stages of change, and must have these qualifications:
- Bachelor’s degree
- At least two years of experience working with worksite wellness programming, human services, or health care
- Tobacco treatment certification within one year of hire
Independent Health and Wellness Coach – You can find many examples of independent health coaches throughout Vermont. Gardner Orton is one example- he is a health coach who started his own business Sacred Mountain Wellness based out of Burlington. He offers a range of services to his clients including lifestyle coaching, integrative nutrition coaching, and conscious breath work. He also leads workshops, with topics including sugar, bone health, cholesterol, the immune system, and stress reduction/management.
Orton’s long list of credentials include:
- Certified holistic health coach
- Pranayama breathwork practitioner
- Certified energy health practitioner
- Chinese herbal studies certification
State Resources for Health and Wellness Coaches
The following links will direct you to additional resources where you can find more information about health and wellness initiatives in Vermont:
Government Resources and Initiatives
- Vermont Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports
- MOVE for Wellbeing
- Vermont Department of Health (DOH)
- DOH’s Fit and Healthy Vermonters Program
- DOH’s 3>4>50 Vermont Program
- DOH’s Get Moving Vermont Program
- DOH’s Tobacco Control Program
Professional and Advocacy Organizations
- Vermont Public Health Association (VtPHA)
- Vermont Health Care Association (VHCA)
- Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems (VAHHS)
- Vermont Chapter of the American Heart Association (AHA)