Sports Nutrition Certification Information

Sep 16, 2019

Sports nutrition certification programs are available from a number of professional organizations and certifying bodies. While certification requirements vary by state, some professional experience or a degree in a health related field may be required.

Essential Information

Sports nutritionists help individuals, especially athletes, achieve optimal physiological performance by assessing their nutritional needs and recommending the appropriate diet. There are several professional organizations which provide certification as sports nutritionist based on various requirements, such as completing a master's degree program or having two years' experience as a healthcare professional.

Required Education Bachelor's or graduate degree; science and patient care coursework
Required Experience May require two years' experience as a registered dietitian or healthcare provider and/or clinical lab experience
Exam Requirements Specific coursework; membership in the organization
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) 11%* for all dietitians and nutritionists
Median Salary (2018) $60,370* for all dietitians and nutritionists

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Sports Nutrition Certification Requirements

Several sports and health organizations offer certification as part of their mission. These types of certification may be desired to improve chances of employment as a sports nutritionist. It also allows individuals to remain current on trends in sports nutrition and medicine.

Choosing a certification program will probably be determined by requirements, cost and applicability to personal career paths. Individuals should check their state's requirements for specific certification information before entering a program.

Educational Requirements

To become a certified sports nutritionist, some organizations require completion of an undergraduate degree program in a health-related major. Some may also require a graduate degree that includes clinical lab experience with science coursework and patient care. Another qualification is that the individual be a licensed healthcare professional with at least two years of experience related to sports nutrition.

Certification Methods

Once individuals choose their certifying organization, they must meet coursework standards and take an examination that may contain hundreds of questions about sports nutrition. Study guides, textbooks and essays are available to help prepare people for this exam.

Those seeking certification must pay for the entire cost of the process, which often includes an examination fee, license fee and membership fee, as well as the cost for course materials and workshops. Such fees may have tiered prices based on whether you are a student or a working professional. Some certifications need to be renewed annually, while others are good for five years.

Professional Organizations

Some of the groups providing sports nutrition certification include the National Association of Sports Nutrition (NASN), the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) and the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR).

The NASN focuses on adapting sports nutrition to an ever-changing world. It offers the opportunity to become a licensed primary sports nutritionist (LPSN). The ISSN, a non-for-profit organization, offers a certified sports nutritionist program designed for certified or licensed health practitioners already working in the field.

With the goal to protect the public through properly certifying medical professionals, the CDR provides certification to specialists in sports dietetics. Its applicants must perform 1,500 hours as a registered dietitian within five years to qualify for this certification.

Salary Information and Employment Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), nutritionists and dietitians in general could expect faster-than-average job growth of 11% from 2018-2028. Additionally, the BLS reported an annual median salary for these professionals of $60,370 in 2018.

Sports nutritionists help athletes to optimize their nutrition through diet. Certification may be helpful for working nutritionists who want to specialize in sports nutrition. There are a few different organizations that offer certification, each with its own requirements, courses, and exam.

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