Registered holistic nutritionists plan and oversee nutrition programs, taking into account all aspects of a patient's life. A bachelor's degree is the minimum educational requirement for entry-level positions, but some employers may prefer a master's degree. Although the field of holistic nutrition isn't officially recognized by any state, most states have requirements that nutritionists in general must meet in order to practice, such as licensure.
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As of 2014, the field of holistic nutrition wasn't officially recognized by any state or federal licensing body. However, society's growing awareness that diet can drastically impact health could change this. A number of schools already have developed programs that specialize in holistic nutrition, as more patients seek it as an adjunct or alternative to traditional health care.
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree, though a master's degree may be preferred|
|Additional Requirements||Completion of state requirements for practice; voluntary Holistic Nutrition Credentialing Board certification may be preferred or required by some employers|
|Projected Job Growth* (2014-2024)||16% increase for all dietitians and nutritionists|
|Median Salary* (2015)||$57,910 for all dietitians and nutritionists|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
Holistic Nutritionists' Job Description
Nutritionists and dietitians plan food and nutrition programs, oversee the preparation and serving of meals, and educate patients about eating or avoiding foods that can affect their health. They are often employed in hospitals, schools, or research facilities. Many dietitians specialize as consultants, either under contract or in private practice. Holistic nutritionists generally fall into this category.
Holistic medicine approaches medical care from a slightly different angle than traditional Western medicine. Holistic practitioners consider all aspects of a patient's life when developing plans to better his or her overall health or treat a specific condition. Likewise, holistic nutritionists consider a patient's emotional and physical health, as well as his or her energy levels and environment, to create a balanced diet containing vitamins, minerals, proteins, and other nutrients.
The growing popularity of holistic nutrition has led to the creation of several master's degree programs in the field. In particular, these programs might benefit practicing dietitians who are seeking to expand their knowledge base and potentially work in alternative medicine. Holistic nutrition students focus on the basic science of nutrition, as well as links among lifestyle, diet, and overall health. Classes in a program like this might include:
- Medical nutrition therapy
- Complementary medicine in other cultures
- Essential nutrients and function
- Diet and lifestyle analysis
- Food production systems
- Diets, fads, and trends
- Food, politics, and the environment
Licensure and Certification Information
There are no licensure requirements specific to holistic nutritionists. However, many areas have established standards for dietitians and nutritionists in general. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most states required licensure in 2016. Some states required just certification or registration, and very few had no regulations at all.
Additionally, the National Association of Nutrition Professionals operates the Holistic Nutrition Credentialing Board (HNCB), which offers voluntary certification. Graduates of programs in holistic nutrition who have gained at least 500 hours of professional experience can sit for the HNCB examination. The HNCB also maintains continuing education requirements for certification renewal.
Job Outlook and Salary Information
The BLS projected much faster-than-average growth of 16% for dietitians and nutritionists in general from 2014-2024, with most of the increase being attributed to greater awareness of the impact of improved dietary practices. In 2015, the median annual salary for dietitians and nutritionists was $57,910.
Holistic nutritionists are different from your typical dietitian in that they consider all aspects of a client's health and lifestyle when developing nutrition plans, including factors like emotional health and environment. A bachelor's degree is a good place to start for this career path, and a master's degree can open up even more doors. Many states require licensure for nutritionists, and voluntary certification related specifically to holistic nutrition is available.