Last updated on September 23rd, 2023.
In the medical field, many different disciplines are necessary for our systems to function properly. One of these key roles in healthcare is the holistic nutritionist. Holistic nutritionists take a macro view of the body’s health, focusing mainly on a personas diet. With the staggering percentage of Americans classified as overweight, their efforts are needed now more than ever.
Becoming a holistic nutritionist is a relatively simple process. It can be achieved in as little as three steps. Some elect to further their education and expand their knowledge base, but the initial time investment is rather small.
Here, we’ll be looking at the benefits of becoming one and the job opportunities for holistic nutritionists at various levels of study. Keep reading if you think you’d enjoy a career helping people improve their diet and health.
What is the Difference Between a Nutritionist and a Holistic Nutritionist?
While there are a handful of differences between the two, the key factors are boiled down best into three main concerns. Nutritionists typically lack formal training, i.e., some form of college instruction, and might be working on bad or outdated information.
There is not a system of validation in place to ensure that a nutritionist is within their ethical duties to provide dietary advice. Essentially, a nutritionist is to “life coach” what a holistic nutritionist is toa licensed therapist- they may have insights from time to time, but going with a trusted source is highly preferable.
Not every malady will require dietary adjustment. However, many do, and having access to the proper information is vital to making a full recovery. Either a holistic nutritionist or a dietician ought to be consulted if you find yourself having any serious dietary concerns.
Illnesses that typically require strict dietary adherence or benefit from dietary counseling include but aren’t limited to:
- Diabetes types I and II: Both forms of diabetes affect the body’s ability to process sugars, leading to unhealthy levels of blood glucose, either too high or too low. Both are serious medical concerns. A holistic nutritionist would address not only the patient’s sugar intake but their lifestyle, exercise level, and other factors in caring for the patient.
- Hypothyroidism: An underactive thyroid can lead to weight gain if not properly managed. The types of food eaten and the frequency with which one eats would be considered by a holistic nutritionist.
- Obesity: Obesity caused primarily by a poor diet is well within the clinical purview of a holistic nutritionist. Most often, substituting healthy foods to the patient’s diet gradually, they also introduce healthy alternatives to the patient’s favorite snacks and foods to help ween them off the unhealthy ones.
- Heart disease: As you may be aware, some of the most delicious foods are bad for the heart. Bacon and other fatty meats take the proverbial cake, but plenty of rich desserts and high-cholesterol foods are no help. A holistic nutritionist would counsel their patients to enjoy these foods in moderation, if at all.
- High Blood Pressure: Salt salt salt! This essential mineral, when consumed in excess, leads to high blood pressure. Other contributing factors are stress and one’s environment. A holistic nutritionist works to address both the food and non-food causes of a problem, which can, in some cases, be more effective.
- Pregnancy: Due to the numerous effects on the female body that pregnancy entails, many foods are off-limits. This is to protect the fetus as it develops, and consulting with a holistic nutritionist goes a long way to ensuring one doesn’t slip up too bad.
- Some Forms of Cancer: Many foods are packed with antioxidants, which have been shown to slow cancerous growth, so your holistic nutritionist may recommend an increase in antioxidant-rich foods.
- Drinking: Even those who aren’t alcoholics benefit from moderating consumption in a variety of ways. As most healthcare professionals do, holistic nutritionists are highly likely to dissuade their patients from regular or excessive alcohol consumption.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the differences between the two:
What Can I Do with a Holistic Nutrition Certificate?
If diet and physical health are important to you, a certificate program may be right for your career goals. Earning a holistic nutrition certificate opens up lots of doors in the medical and therapeutic fields.
Check out some of these popular jobs holistic nutritionists might get:
- Manage a nutritional supplement store: With the breadth of nutritional knowledge, you’ll possess, advising shoppers will come second nature for many holistic nutritionists.
- Be a nutritional advisor for a gym or training facility: If retail doesn’t strike your fancy, working as an advisor for a gym or other training facility may be preferable due to the one on one, continued interaction.
- Work at a naturopathic health center: Whether working directly with a doctor’s office or in private practice, holistic nutritionists provide a range of services, from diet and nutrition coaching to lifestyle counseling and healthy eating workshops.
- Write about nutrition and healthy eating habits: Some elect to supplement their income by writing books on nutrition or by blogging about a variety of health-related topics. This can be demanding, with lots of research and time going to researching topics and creating content for their audience to enjoy and learn from.
- Take your talents online and provide guidance from a distance: If in-person workshops aren’t your thing, many holistic nutritionists are putting on online classes and webinars to teach people info on proper diet and health. This is especially popular in the age of coronavirus.
- Teach nutritional workshops or cooking classes: Conversely, many others find it difficult to learn complex and important information through screens alone. For those who prefer in-person instructing, traditional workshops and cooking classes are where it’s at.
Step 1: Find a Holistic Nutrition Certification
Many schools offer holistic nutrition programs ranging from a certification alone to a full-fledged Bachelor’s Degree. And you can get your nutrition certification online too! What you intend to do with your education will likely dictate which program you’ll select, keeping in mind that not all credits will transfer between institutions.
Holistic Performance Institute
Holistic Performance Institute is a specialized institute that focuses on holistic nutritional training that was founded in 2012 by Dr. Cliff Harvey. Dr. Harvey drew heavily from carb-appropriate theories of the 1990s in creating his program.
Tuition starts at just under $5000, but payment plans are available if you can’t afford it all upfront. All courses are taken online from an evidence-based curriculum, ensuring their safety and success in the field.
AFPA Fitness offers accredited education in a variety of medically-related fields, with their holistic nutritionist certification being among the most popular.
At under $800 for the full 6-month program (or even less if you work at a faster pace), you’ll be ready to start a rewarding new career in no time without breaking the bank.
American College of Healthcare Sciences Department of Holistic Nutrition
American College of Healthcare Sciences Department of Holistic Nutrition offers a wide range of programs for the would-be holistic nutritionist. Like the others, they offer a certification program. But that’s barely the beginning, with options to earn an Associate’s Degree with Holistic Nutrition Specialization, as well as Bachelor and Master programs in Holistic Nutrition.
With the advanced training you would receive from them, you’ll be well-equipped for many upper-level nutrition-based positions.
Step 2: Finding a Job That's Right for You
There are dozens of career paths to choose from, depending on the level of education you intend to achieve. Certifications are a great step into the field, but they often have an upper limit for earning potential.
Take the time to consider your desired career, or even a range of acceptable ones, before diving in head-first and dropping a bunch of money only to end up dissatisfied with your new job.
An Associate Of Applied Science with Holistic Nutrition Specialization may find work as:
- Provide Nutritional Coaching: Some people are more or less healthy but still have trouble losing body fat or getting their nutritional needs met. Nutritional coaching can help solve this problem in a minimally invasive way.
- Design Personalized Programs: Each person will have a different dietary need that must be considered before a personalized program is designed. Lifestyle or ethical choices, religious restrictions, and chronic health conditions should all be taken under careful consideration.
- Assess Optimal Food Needs: Patients suffering from weight problems, eating disorders, and other medical problems often have specific dietary needs. Being able to determine what the right approach for each individual is highly important to providing good care.
- Prepare Meal Plans: Many hospitals and other facilities have a group of dieticians and certified holistic nutritionists to draw from. Preparing meal plans, both generalized and patient-specific, is a significant aspect of their responsibilities.
- Consultant for Healthcare Facilities: Some facilities like assisted living homes or nursing homes may not have dedicated nutritional support, so that work may be available on a contractual basis. Meal planning and adherence to special diets would be key for these positions.
Someone with a Bachelor of Science in Holistic Nutrition may work as:
- A Health Coach, Consultant, or Writer: Often working in a freelance-like capacity, these folks work for individuals or small groups to get their health back up to snuff. Many even write books, often supporting the fad diet industry. (What does a health coach do? Find out in that article!)
- A Community Wellness Practitioner: Often working in free clinics and community health centers, these practitioners do their best to alleviate the effects of poverty on physical health, especially when it comes to diet. This has numerous benefits, from lower systemic healthcare costs to individual self-esteem.
- A Nutritional Therapy Practitioner: These are specialized practitioners who focus on the nutritional balance as a key factor in improving a patient’s overall health. Illnesses like diabetes and gout are particularly helped by this sort of practitioner.
- An Administrator in a Variety of Healthcare Businesses: In-depth knowledge of the field coupled with an appropriate sense for business would make on a formidable administrator. This will foster a good working environment leading to higher morale and less turnover amongst the staff, which can be challenging.
Some even use their degree as a stepping stone into more advanced medicine and may work as multidisciplinary practitioners.
Someone with a Master of Science in Holistic Nutrition may work as:
- Master Nutrition Therapist: For those in dire need of nutritional guidance, a master may be the way to go. Master Nutrition Therapists can prescribe dietary regimens to help alleviate a variety of disorders.
- Holistic Health Practitioner: Unlike some physicians, Holistic practitioners consider many different facets of a patient’s life before determining the best course of treatment. Sometimes dietary and lifestyle changes can make otherwise less effective treatments hit the mark.
- Wellness Coach: Some folks really want to be fit and well but benefit from some external motivation. Enter the wellness coach, who works to keep you to your stated goals for weight loss, muscle gain, or general self-improvement.
- Health or Holistic Nutrition Coach: Other folks, for a variety of reasons, have a difficult time maintaining their health. All too often, mental illness is found to be an underlying cause. The holistic approach taken by these practitioners may help identify and subsequently treat the underlying issue, leading to a more well-adjusted life.
The Master of Science in Holistic Nutrition degree may also be used as further study in related fields like mental health counseling, psychiatry, pharmacy, and many more.
Step 3: Pick the Right School to Attend
You’ve shopped around between schools by now, and you’ve probably already decided on a career path or two. Here comes the last major choice you’ll be faced with before you get into the practice itself: Deciding where to get your education as a holistic nutritionist.
This is the sort of consequential decision that can lead either to a life of happiness and job satisfaction or to one filled with disdain for a field you had previously been interested in.
Now you’ve got some considerations to weigh. Do you go for the homey feel of class in your pajamas? Perhaps you prefer the organization of an in-person class. The choice is yours.
Since many programs are online, consider whether distance learning is right for you. Many people have a tough time learning via a computer screen and do much better when they can interact with their professors face to face.
In-person schools also foster social development and camaraderie, important skills for those wanting to work in medicine. Others prefer the flexibility and convenience of online learning, especially those with children.
Incidental costs are often lower with online schools as well. For example, ebooks are usually much cheaper than physical textbooks are.
How Much Does a Holistic Nutritionist Make a Year?
Now for the burning question on your mind: What kind of salary am I looking at with a job as a holistic nutritionist? As you might guess, that depends on factors like the region you live in, its market demand, and most importantly, your level of education.
Even certificate holders alone can expect to earn upwards of $30-$35k annually, and that’s on the low end, with some earning much more. Naturally, full-fledged practitioners will make substantially more.
Gauging what a hospital or private practice may pay their employees may differ by region and management, but by no means are well-trained and credentialed healthcare workers going to have to work for peanuts. Plus, it’s an industry that will always need good workers, so if you’re looking for a stable job with decent pay, look no further!
For more on how much do nutritionists make, check out that article!
While it takes a pretty substantial investment of both time and money, the payoffs can be expected to outweigh what you put out getting through your training. While healthcare can be stressful, it’s also seen by many as a rewarding field to work in.
While you won’t be knocking down Jeff Bezos amounts of money, a reliable job with a steady, substantial paycheck isn’t half bad. Of course, being in the age of coronavirus, one ought to weigh the risk to themselves and their loved ones before deciding on a career that involves coming in contact with multitudes of people regularly.