Should I Become a Weight Loss Consultant?
A weight loss consultant educates clients on issues regarding weight loss, diet and exercise. Consultants assess a client's current weight and nutrition choices to provide guidance in obtaining a healthier lifestyle and losing weight. Evening or weekend hours might be necessary in order to meet clients' scheduling needs. Patience and tact are often needed when working with clients struggling with weight loss and lifestyle changes. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the median annual wage for nutritionists and dieticians was $57,910 in May 2015.
|Degree Level||High school diploma; dieticians and nutritionists typically hold at least a bachelor's degree|
|Degree Fields||Health, nutrition, fitness, or related field|
|Experience||1-2+ years of experience|
|Licensure/Certification||Voluntary certification is available|
|Key Skills||Problem-solving, analytical thinking, and instructional skills; ability to communicate in a friendly, professional, and concise manner with clients|
|Salary||$57,910 (2015 median annual wage for nutritionists and dieticians)|
Sources: Indeed.com Job Postings (August 2015), University of West Florida, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Only a high school diploma is needed for some positions, though dieticians and nutritionists typically hold at least a bachelor's degree in health, nutrition, fitness or a related field. If you want to work in this career, you may also need 1-2 or more years of experience. Certification is available but voluntary. You'll also need the ability to solve problems and think analytically, instructional skills and the ability to communicate in a friendly, professional and concise manner with clients.
Steps to Become a Weight Loss Consultant
Now that you know about what a weight loss consultant does and a general idea of the requirements, let's see what steps you'd take to start working in this career.
Step 1: Consider Earning a Bachelor's Degree
A high school diploma is the minimum education needed to obtain employment as a weight loss consultant. However, some employers require at least a bachelor's degree, especially when the position encompasses dietician and/or nutritionist level skills. Bachelor's degree programs in health, nutrition, fitness or a related field are widely available. These degree programs typically train students on proper fitness and various aspects of health and wellness.
Participate in an internship. Aspiring weight loss consultants can gain beneficial skills and hands-on experience through internship opportunities at weight loss or fitness centers. Internships allow students to work with clients and practice skills outside of a classroom environment.
Step 2: Obtain Certification
Certification allows professionals to focus on specific areas and information in weight loss management. Most employers do not require certification, but individuals that have it may be more competitive in the job market. Certification is offered through health and wellness organizations including the American Council on Exercise (ACE) and American Fitness Professionals and Associates (AFPA).
ACE offers a certification program for individuals with bachelor's degrees in health-related fields. The ACE Lifestyle & Weight Management Consultant Certification program offers specific education and training in helping clients lose weight and transition to a healthy lifestyle.
AFPA offers a weight management consultant certification program that focuses on a holistic approach to weight management. Participants in this program must also have a bachelor's degree in a health-related field.
Step 3: Gain Work Experience
Weight loss consultants can work for private companies, fitness centers, human service organizations, government agencies, hospitals or schools. Job duties may vary depending on where a consultant works, but most involve the common goals of working with clients to manage weight loss.
Step 4: Pursue Advanced Degree Options
Many advanced positions in this field require a graduate degree, such as a master's degree in nutrition or fitness. These programs offer students the chance to expand on what they learned in their undergraduate program and advance their knowledge of how nutrition plays a role in weight management. Students may have the option to specialize in areas such as obesity, eating disorders or fitness.
Step 5: Continue Education
Continuing education is essential for weight loss consultants as information and techniques used in weight loss management are constantly evolving and changing. Continuing education may include attending seminars, taking certification courses or getting an advanced degree.
To become a weight loss consultant, you'll need at least a high school diploma and to gain some work experience.