Holistic Nutritionist Careers: Job Description & Salary Info

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A holistic nutritionist's median annual salary is around $57,000. Is it worth the education and training requirements? See real job descriptions and get the truth about career prospects to find out if becoming a holistic nutritionist is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Career in Holistic Nutrition

Holistic nutritionists are responsible for helping people change their diets to lose weight and improve their overall health, through natural, whole foods. Check out the pros and cons to see if a career in holistic nutrition is right for you.

Pros of Becoming a Holistic Nutritionist
High projected employment growth (21% between 2012 and 2022 for all dietitians and nutritionists)*
Many places of employment (hospitals, nursing homes, schools)*
Variety of work activities (conducting training programs, creating meal plans, advising patients)**
Can help people become healthier*

Cons of Becoming a Holistic Nutritionist
Many states have licensing or certification requirements*
Many employers prefer nutritionists with a graduate degree***
May not be able to work full-time (20% of nutritionists worked part-time in 2012)*
Continuing education courses may be required to maintain certification or licensure*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **O*NET Online, ***May 2012 Job Postings.

Essential Career Info

Job Descriptions and Duties

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), nutritionists are responsible for helping people change their diets to lose weight and improve their overall health. They may work in physicians' offices, hospitals, care centers, schools, nursing homes or the local government. You may see groups of clients who need to learn how to lower their blood pressure or prepare diet plans for individual clients. The National Association of Nutrition Professionals (NANP) adds that holistic nutritionists recommend natural, whole foods for the best nutrition to improve clients' emotional, physical, spiritual and mental health. Other responsibilities could include helping clients develop nutrition plans and implementing community programs to promote good health and nutrition.

Salary Info and Career Prospects

The BLS reported that nutritionists and dieticians earned a median salary of around $57,000 as of May 2014. This was slightly lower than the 2014 median for workers in all industries who had a bachelor's degree, which was approximately $57,252.

The BLS projected that the employment of nutritionists and dietitians would increase by 21% between 2012 and 2022, which was faster than the average for all occupations. As research detailing how a healthy diet can decrease the prevalence of diseases and improve one's overall health and wellness, more people are using a nutritionist's services.

Education and Training Requirements

Nutritionists need to have a bachelor's degree in nutrition or dietetics. These types of degree programs address how the body digests and metabolizes different foods, how healthy foods contribute to overall health and how to apply this knowledge. The BLS reported that most states require dieticians and nutritionists to earn state licensure or certification, which includes having a bachelor's degree, completing supervised training hours and passing a licensure exam. Check with the state you wish to work in to get the specific licensure and certification requirements for that state.

If you specialize in holistic nutrition, you'll learn to incorporate local and seasonal foods in meals, analyze someone's diet and understand the importance of fresh, whole foods. You may explore natural energy sources and provide consultations regarding health and diet. Some courses address how applying the principles of holistic health can facilitate weight management, while others cover how healthy foods can heal the body.

Job Postings from Real Employers

Many employers are looking for nutritionists who can incorporate knowledge of healthy foods and nutrition to sell products and keep customers informed. Employers want someone who can multitask, communicate effectively and encourage others. The following snapshots are of job postings for nutritionists from May 2012:

  • A company in Arizona that develops weight loss and bodily cleansing products advertised for a nutritionist who could conduct clinical research and keep up-to-date with the latest weight management studies. Applicant should have a graduate degree in nutrition, at least five years of experience, the ability to multitask and experience with conducting clinical research.
  • A hospital in New York was searching for a nutritionist with at least a bachelor's degree in dietetics or nutrition and proficiency in English and Spanish. The successful candidate would educate new mothers about holistic methods for breastfeeding, nutrition and healthy lifestyles by presenting tips on shopping, fitness and food preparation.
  • An organic produce grocer in Arizona wanted to hire a nutritional health coach to help customers and employees make good choices regarding healthy foods and vitamins. The ideal applicant would have a degree in nutrition, biology, dietetics or naturopathy and be able to lead nutrition classes.

How Can I Stand Out?

Earning board certification as a holistic nutritionist through the National Association of Nutrition Professionals (NANP) is one of the best ways to stand out from other nutritionists. You can become Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition by meeting educational requirements, obtaining 500 hours of holistic nutrition experience and passing the exam. You can include the experience you gained from an internship, working as a nutrition consultant or conducting independent research. If you did not obtain a degree in holistic nutrition, you may have to take some additional courses to meet the education requirements set by NANP. Keep in mind that the title you earn from this certification is still subjected to the nutritionist laws in the state where you work and is not a substitution for the license or certification required by that state.

Continuing Education

Scientists, researchers and nutritionists are constantly uncovering new information about how food affects the human body and what makes it healthy or unhealthy. Continuing your studies in nutrition indicates your passion for the field, which can appeal to employers. It will also help you stay on top of trends and developments. If you decided to become a member of NANP, you'll need to take additional courses to renew your membership each year. You can get all of the required education through NANP, as this organization offers conferences, book and lectures to keep your knowledge up-to-date.

Alternative Career Paths

Health Educator

If you're interested in a career related to nutrition and health, but becoming a holistic nutritionist isn't the right fit, you might consider becoming a health educator. You'll create educational materials and programs to meet your community's health needs. Health educators can work in a number of environments, including schools, private businesses, health departments and healthcare facilities. You'll need a bachelor's degree for most entry-level positions or a master's degree for some government positions. Health educators made a median annual income of around $48,000 in 2011, according to the BLS. The BLS also reported that employment of health educators was expected to increase by 37% between 2010 and 2020, which was much faster than the average of all occupations.

Fitness Trainer

Fitness trainers attempt to improve their clients' health by creating fitness plans and leading fitness activities. You may work with a group of people or just one person at a time. The BLS projected that the employment of fitness trainers would increase by 24% between 2010 and 2020. Some employers prefer that fitness trainers have an associate's or bachelor's degree in a health field, but a high school diploma is typically the base requirement for becoming a fitness trainer. Certification is not required, but it can give you an edge over other trainers with similar abilities. However, although the education requirements are less, so is the pay; the BLS found that fitness trainers earned a median salary of about $31,000 in 2011.

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George Mason University

  • Master of Science in Health Informatics

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Kaplan University

  • MS in Nursing
  • Master of Healthcare Admin
  • Bachelor: Nutrition Science
  • Bachelor: Health and Wellness

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American University

  • Master of Science in Healthcare Management

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Baker College Online

  • Healthcare Management - MBA (Master's)

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Northcentral University

  • MS - Organizational Leadership: Health Care Administration

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Colorado State University Global

  • Graduate Specialization - Healthcare Administration

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Herzing University

  • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Public Safety Leadership
  • Associate of Science - Medical Assisting Services
  • Diploma: Medical Assisting

What is your highest level of education?

Keiser University

  • Associate of Sciences - Medical Assistant

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