Last updated on September 19th, 2023.
This specialized career is one of the most in-demand in the world today. Nutritionists help keep athletes performing at their peak level of performance, find ways to make a person’s weight loss journey easier, and encourage healthy eating habits. There are many careers you can take on as a certified nutritionist.
As a certified nutritionist, you will have a plethora of career paths. Whether you choose to go into sports medicine and help athletes or turn towards education, there are no lack of career options.
The key element in all the careers available is that people need your expertise and help. Although the work will involve the same fundamental elements, the setting and clientele are strikingly different. A career in nutrition requires you to be knowledgeable and excited about healthy eating and its effects on a person’s health.
What does it take to become a certified nutritionist?
This highly specialized field will require you to complete a bachelor’s degree in clinical nutrition. To become more competitive for higher-paying or more exclusive jobs, nutritionists may also want to pursue a master’s degree in human nutrition. It is important to set yourself apart from the pack to land your dream job as a nutritionist.
In addition to education, you will also be required to complete a 900-hour internship that is directly related to nutrition and the various other duties a certified nutritionist is expected to perform. Your internship will allow you to study and learn from experience under the direction of a certified nutritionist, which will be so valuable to your progress.
The best thing is you can also get your nutrition certification online!
5 Things You Can Do as a Certified Nutritionist
Certified nutritionists have a plethora of job opportunities, with a few of the myriad of career opportunities being:
- Sports nutritionist
- Corporate nutritionist for fast food chains
- Athletic club and spa consultant
- Weight loss consultant
- Nutrition educator
As you can see, this will give you many opportunities to work with different industries and clients. A career as a certified nutritionist can involve completely different environments with entirely different goals for those being advised. The sky’s the limit.
If you love sports and are interested in the effects that diet has on the body, then this is right up your alley. Certified nutritionists help athletes at all levels perform to the best of their ability, and it is such a valuable addition that most athletic programs are happy to invest in certified nutritionists. They perform duties such as:
- Helping athletes recover from strenuous training
- Fuel athletes for the next session
- Help athletes stay feeling their best
Your abilities will help athletes from high school to the pros as they train their bodies to perform to the highest standards. Making meal plans, educating and counseling athletes individually, and cooperating with the coaching staff to meet the specific needs of the athlete’s schedules will keep you on your toes and ensure your day is full.
You could even find a career off the playing field and onto the battlefield as a sports nutritionist. The U.S. Army and Special Forces rely on the expertise of contracted sports nutritionists to keep soldiers mission-ready. The rigors of military training would make the toughest athlete break more than a few drops of sweat.
Soldiers who train like world-class athletes need the same support systems that world-class athletes have come to rely on. Your expertise will ensure that soldiers stay healthy and ready to perform their duties to the best of their ability. Although their duties are different from your typical clientele’s, your services are still needed just as much.
Corporate Nutritionist for Fast Food Chains
Believe it or not, some fast-food chains hire certified nutritionists on the corporate level to help them develop the best options for their increasing health-conscious customers. Many, if not all, fast food chains have begun to market more healthy options on their menus to attract customers in search of convenient, nutritious foods on the go.
For instance, Taco Bell has made huge efforts to cater to consumers’ growing desire for healthy options. Certified nutritionist, Missy Schaaphok, has helped Taco Bell move towards a healthier menu with her experience and expertise. While this might not be the place that you would expect to get a job as a certified nutritionist, the need is there!
Other fast-food chains have embraced the need for a certified nutritionist and have benefited from healthier menus and satisfied customers. If helping build a menu with healthy options for those on the go sounds interesting to you, you should definitely consider it a career goal when pursuing your nutrition certification.
Athletic Club and Spa Consultant
When people go to the gym or spa, they hope to improve or maintain their health through exercise and relaxation. These gym and spa-goers need guidance on the effective ways they can fuel their bodies for a healthier and happier life. Athletic clubs and spas are in need of your expertise to keep their members satisfied and signed up.
This job will call for tons of one-on-one consulting that many people look for in a career. You will be helping members set and meet nutritional goals over the course of years. In doing so, you will build relationships and become a source of support for many people as they pursue their health and nutrition goals.
Many members will be interested in what foods will improve their quality of life and overall health. Members will be interested in various plans, such as:
- Plans for maximizing their muscle mass
- Plans for slimming down
- Plans for maintaining body weight
Being able to work with many people with unique needs will ensure that each day is different.
Weight Loss Consultant
So many people struggle with health issues brought on by obesity. The setbacks they face are typically rooted in poor diet and a lack of nutrition knowledge. One of the first things to help clients do is not only change their habits but help their body detox before moving into healthier habits. (see this article for taking a detox course online) Health clinics are often the place that these people turn to when they have finally had enough. Your skills as a certified nutritionist will be exactly what these people are looking for.
Educating those you consult and giving them the tools that they need to succeed will all be in just another day’s work for you as a weight-loss consultant. Your skills will be directly coordinated with other healthcare professionals to ensure that your joint efforts will help facilitate a healthy weight loss strategy for those you consult.
Many of the maladies in the health of society as a whole stem from poor diet and improper nutrition. It is never too late to take an active role in one’s quest for a happy and healthy life. As a certified nutritionist, you will have exactly what people need to live a happier and healthier life: knowledge, experience, and support.
So many people simply do not know where to begin when it comes to taking control of what they consume. Between the myths, old-wives-tails, and flat-out falsehoods, people struggle to separate fact from fiction. As a nutrition educator, your job will be to shed light on the truth and spread it like gospel to those who will hear it.
This career path will suit those who enjoy working with groups and organizing lesson plans. If you have considered teaching and have a strong interest in nutrition, this might be the job. Nutrition educators can find work at community centers, schools, private companies, and even for themselves as a contracted consultant.
(One of the many things that people need to be educated about is the importance of childhood nutrition. Check out why it’s so crucial in that article!)
How much does it cost to become a certified nutritionist?
Becoming a certified nutritionist will require an investment of around $50,000 depending on where you intend to receive your bachelor’s degree from, how much you can receive in scholarships and financial aid, and what state you plan to work in. Any of these variables could significantly affect this estimate, so it really depends on your plans.
These costs can be upwards of $120,000 if you were to attend school out of state or if you chose to pursue a master’s degree as well. However, to become a certified nutritionist, you will only be required to obtain a bachelor’s degree. The different costs of becoming a certified nutritionist are somewhere around:
- Bachelor’s degree ($40,000 on average)
- Study materials in school ($9,500 on average)
- License exam and filing ($500 on average)
Scholarships and financial aid can have huge impacts on these costs. For those who are considering a career switch, check out what benefits your current job offers. You might be sitting on a great financial opportunity to advance within your company as a certified nutritionist at little to no cost to you individually.
You will also be required to renew your license periodically. Depending on what state you live in, you may also be required to complete continuing education as well. If you were to let your license lapse, you would not be able to work as a certified nutritionist until you rectified the discrepancy and settled any fines associated with it as well.
How much can you charge as a certified nutritionist?
For the entrepreneurial certified nutritionists, they could expect to make $85 per consultation. Many nutritionists offer special discounts on initial consultations and vary their prices after that. The nature of your relationship with the person you are consulting will be a big factor in determining rates for your service.
If you meet with a customer several times over the course of a year as you help them meet goals for weight loss, you might expect to make less per session but more overall as your client returns to continue their progress. This recurring business will help create a stable and predictable income for your business.
On the other hand, if you were giving a nutrition class over a few weeks, you would most likely be charging more and providing multiple sessions to new clients to make the most of your time.
You can also become a holistic nutritionist which incorporates a nutrition plan based on the body, mind and spirit. Giving you an opportunity to charge a bit more since that career is not that overflowing of practitioners.
At the end of the day, what you charge for your services is directly related to what people are willing to pay for them. Ensure you remain knowledgeable and excited about nutrition, and you will provide an excellent service to those who sought you out. Do not be afraid to play with your prices but know your worth and deliver a great service.
Concluding Thoughts on Getting Certified as a Nutritonist
Becoming a certified nutritionist requires dedication to academic study, financial investment in the future, and a sincere interest in the effects that nutrition can have on health and the human body. The demand is there for those who are ready to cater to it. Also, think of it like a driver’s license. There are plenty of other more specific certifications and courses out there to enhance your knowledge (like studying a detox course online) that just help you get better and better at serving your clientele.
A career as a certified nutritionist can look completely different from job to job, but providing an excellent service backed up by years of training and experience is key across the board. At the end of the day, people are trying to take control of their health, and they need your help to do it. What are you waiting for?