Introduction to a Nutrition Coach Career
Nutrition coaches help clients understand the role nutrition plays in health and wellness, and they help them identify wellness goals and create food plans to achieve those goals. Nutrition coaches work with a wide variety of clients, but unlike specially-trained registered dietitians, they do not create plans for people with medical conditions. Individuals can prepare for a career as a nutrition coach through online resources.
The table below has more information about this career:
|Required Skills||Communication, empathy, listening, research and fact-oriented|
|Job Growth*||11% for 2018-2028 (for all dietitians and nutritionists)|
|Average Salary (2019)**||$43,855|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), **Glassdoor.com
Steps to Become a Nutrition Coach Online
A career as a nutrition coach does not require a formal degree through a college or university, and those interested in this career can complete an online course that results in certification. Professional organizations offer these online certification courses; the courses may be completed within 10 to 12 weeks, with 8 to 10 hours of dedicated study time per week.
Step 1: Research Course Options
The first step to becoming a nutrition coach is to research and choose your training and certification program. These programs are offered by several professional organizations, and each organization places different emphasis in their online nutrition coach certification courses. For example, some courses have a stronger focus on the role of nutrition in achieving high-level fitness goals, while others focus on nutrition's place in a holistic lifestyle. There are not typically any specific education or experience prerequisites for these courses, though those with previous athletic training, fitness instructor, or wellness training may skip some units.
Step 2: Complete the Course Content
Nutrition coach certification courses can be completed entirely online and are made up of self-paced units. Each unit includes reading material and videos on topics such as nutritional science, the psychology behind eating habits, approaches to nutrition coaching, communication, motivation techniques, and current trends and controversies in nutrition. There are often quizzes at the end of each unit to help students to assess their understanding.
Step 3: Take a Certification Exam
Most reputable nutrition coach courses have a comprehensive exam at the end of their course as the final step of certification. Some of these organizations also offer practice exams as part of their course packages to help students prepare for the certification exam, and courses indicate the minimum score required to pass the exam so that students know what to expect. Depending on the course, the certification exam may include true/false, matching, multiple-choice, and/or written responses questions. Each organization administer their own certification exams online.
Step 4: Keep Your Certification Current
Reputable professional organizations require nutrition coaches to keep their certifications current through continuing education courses or by retaking the certification exam on a regular basis. For instance, some professional organizations specify 20 hours of continuing education credits every two years, while others require nutrition coaches to repeat the comprehensive exam every two years. Continuing education credit courses and recertification exams are available online.