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How Do I Get Started in a Nutritionist Career?

D. Jeffress
D. Jeffress

A nutritionist helps people plan and implement healthy diets based on their specific needs and conditions. He or she may work in a number of different settings, such as a hospital, health clinic, correctional facility, university, or research institution. Many nutritionists choose to open private practices, offering their services to a wide range of individuals and companies. A person who wishes to get started in a nutritionist career must typically receive at least a bachelor's degree from an accredited university, fulfill any necessary licensing requirements in his or her location, and work as an intern for a certain period of time.

A high school student who wants to eventually obtain a nutritionist career can prepare by taking advanced courses in anatomy, physiology, biology, and health. Students gain a basic understanding of the internal human body, the processes by which food is digested, and the impacts eating certain foods can have on a person's overall health. Near the end of high school, most hopeful nutritionists apply to four-year universities with strong science departments.

A nutritionist may work in a hospital environment.
A nutritionist may work in a hospital environment.

College undergraduates usually major in nutrition or dietetics, where they take several different courses related to food science and human health. Prospective nutritionists receive both classroom and laboratory instruction, where they learn about different research techniques and clinical procedures related to nutrition. Students often enroll in business management and communications courses as well, to learn about the administrative and customer service aspects of their potential careers.

To become a nutritionist, you must study anatomy, physiology, biology, and health.
To become a nutritionist, you must study anatomy, physiology, biology, and health.

A bachelor's degree is usually sufficient to obtain a nutritionist career, though some people pursue advanced degrees to further their understanding of nutrition principles and to increase their chances of gaining employment. In addition to classroom and laboratory studies, master's degree and PhD programs often allow students to conduct independent research. Students may be required to write thesis papers or dissertations based on their findings before receiving their degrees.

A graduate may be required to take a written licensing exam administered by his or her state or country before starting a nutritionist career. Most exams cover topics studied in college, such as human physiology and general health, as well as food safety, occupational health, and ethics. Some locations and employers require new nutritionists to complete supervised internships, which may last as long as two years, before practicing independently. A professional may choose to obtain additional certification as a registered dietitian to improve his or her credentials, though certification is not always needed for employment. Once all education, licensing, and internship requirements have been met, a person can finally begin a challenging and rewarding nutritionist career.

Certified nutritionists are in your area and ready to serve your needs as you start the journey to a healthier self. If you know someone who wants to be a nutritionist, encourage them to start on their collegiate studies. You never know if this person will become the nutritionist who helps you get your life back on track with healthy eating and exercising. All it takes is one step forward to keep accelerating to a new career and a healthier lifestyle.

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Discussion Comments


@ocelot60- I think that the best answer to your question depends on the area where your relative lives. If she lives in an area that is larger and has a lot of medical facilities and schools, she should be able to easily find a nutritionist job after she graduates from college.

On the other hand, jobs in this field are sometimes limited in small towns and rural areas. If this is the case for your relative, she can still pursue a career as a nutritionist. However, she might have to be prepared to move to a larger city in order to find a job in the field.


@ocelot60- I have a lot of young relatives, so I keep a close eye on future job trends and career fields that will be needing qualified employees over the next several years. One trend that I am finding is that people with various medical degrees will be in demand. Dieticians and nutritionists fall into this category.

Not only are healthcare needs on the rise, but so is the desire to improve individuals' health in general. Proper eating habits is a big part of this equation.

More people than ever are beginning to understand how healthful eating and good health go hand in hand. This is why nutritionist jobs are on the rise in hospitals, medical clinics, and schools. I think that if this is what your young relative wants to do to earn a living when she is out of college, she will be pleased with the job market in this field.


I have a young relative who loves people and food, and is planning to become a nutritionist. While I think that she is a great candidate for this type of job, I'm concerned about available career positions in the field once she graduates from college. Does anyone know what the job market may be like when it comes time for her to look for nutritionist job?

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    • A nutritionist may work in a hospital environment.
      By: Monkey Business
      A nutritionist may work in a hospital environment.
    • To become a nutritionist, you must study anatomy, physiology, biology, and health.
      By: alxhar
      To become a nutritionist, you must study anatomy, physiology, biology, and health.