How to Become a Certified Holistic Nutritionist: Career Guide

Learn how to become a certified holistic nutritionist. Research the job description and the education and licensing requirements and find out how to start a career as a certified nutritionist.

Should I Become a Certified Holistic Nutritionist?

Nutritionists are licensed professionals with expertise in food and nutrition. They give people advice on their eating habits to ensure a healthy lifestyle or to improve health conditions. A holistic nutritionist typically has extra training in complementary and alternative medicine.

Weekend and evening work hours might be necessary to meet clients' scheduling needs. Some nutritionists are self-employed, which gives them greater flexibility with their schedules.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree
Degree Field Nutrition, dietetics, or related degree
Licensure and Certification License is usually required
Experience Internship or fieldwork is helpful
Key Skills Analytical, organizational, communication, and people skills; Microsoft Excel and Word, medical software, analytical or scientific software, and database user interface and query software.
Salary $57,440 mean annual wage as of May 2014

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and ONet Online

Step 1: Obtain a Bachelor's Degree

A bachelor's degree is the minimum educational requirement to become a nutritionist. Aspiring nutritionists may want to consider a degree program in dietetics, human nutrition, or a similar discipline that is approved and accredited by the American Dietetic Association (ADA). These bachelor's degree programs include science courses, such as biochemistry and anatomy, as well as nutrition courses covering nutrition in the life cycle, nutritional assessment, and food principles.

Step 2: Complete an Internship

Most accredited dietetic and nutrition degree programs require students to complete an internship under the supervision of a licensed nutritionist. Many of these internships take place at health care facilities. Interns interact with both trained professionals and patients as they develop skills and build experience.

Step 3: Become Licensed

Most states require some form of licensing. Qualifications for state licensure vary, but they generally include passing a state examination and completing an ADA-accredited bachelor's degree program in a nutrition- or dietetics-related discipline. Aspiring holistic nutritionists might want to seek the ADA's Registered Dietitian (RD) credential, which may or may not be a state requirement. An RD candidate must hold at least a bachelor's degree, pass an exam, and provide proof of internship experience.

Step 4: Continue Education and Earn Certification

Continuing education (CE) is a common requirement for maintaining licensure and ADA credentialing. Choosing a certificate or degree program that's approved by the National Association of Nutrition Professionals (NANP) can be the first step toward earning voluntary board certification in holistic nutrition, which is offered through the Holistic Nutrition Credentialing Board. Other requirements for certification include membership in the NANP and at least 500 hours of holistic nutrition experience.

Step 5: Opportunities for Career Advancement

Beyond earning a certificate, a holistic nutritionist can continue their education and earn an advanced degree. With an advanced degree, a nutritionist can specialize in a particular area of study - for example, sports nutrition or geriatric nutrition. It is also generally important that a nutritionist stay up to date on the latest developments in their field to continuously deliver the gold standard of care to their patients.

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