Overview of Online Pediatric Nutrition Certificate Programs
In order to become a board certified specialist in pediatric nutrition from the Commission on Dietetic Registration, students need to be a Registered Dietitian (RD), maintain RD status for 2 years after the original qualifying exam, and complete practice experience in the field. Some students may pursue a pediatric nutrition certificate program, which is typically offered as a post-baccalaureate program designed for dietitians, nutritionists, and/or other health professionals interested in working with infants, children, and pregnant and/or lactating women. These graduate-level certificate programs cover topics pertaining to both infants/children and women with the hopes of advancing the health of families. Although this certificate in and of itself does not qualify students for a career as a dietitian, it serves as a concentration in the field and prepares students to work with pediatric nutrition in a health care or public health setting, which can count toward a student's required 2,000 hours of experience in the specialty for board certification.
There is at least one pediatric nutrition certificate program that is available fully online. Other related on-campus programs may go by names like maternal and child nutrition. Typically, these certificate programs take about 1 year to complete and do not allow students to transfer credit into the program. Applicants to these programs may be required to have an undergraduate degree in dietetics or another related area with strong experience in science.
Requirements for Online Pediatric Nutrition Certificates
Certificate programs in pediatric nutrition not only train students in the research and methods of the field but also in the civic engagement required for the subject. Overall, these programs equip students with the skills needed to help educate families on proper nutrition to promote overall wellness.
Students in pediatric nutrition certificate programs usually have to complete 15 credits of coursework, either online or on-campus. Some programs may allow students to count these credits toward a future master's degree program in nutrition. Typically, the curriculum for these programs consists of 2 core courses in the subject and at least 3 elective courses to allow students to focus their studies on different areas of interest. On-campus programs may include electives that provide students with hands-on learning experiences through field experiences and/or special projects.
Courses in pediatric nutrition explore the various nutritional requirements for infants, children, and adolescents at each stage of development. Students may learn the various techniques for Medical Nutrition Therapy that incorporates the knowledge of nutrition, physiology, and biochemistry of children. These courses may also discuss the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of various nutritional abnormalities and growth issues.
Pregnancy and Lactation
Students in pregnancy and lactation courses examine research in the field to further understand the nutritional requirements of expectant and lactating mothers. Based on this comprehensive knowledge, students further develop their nutritional counseling skills to best support mothers throughout the pregnancy and nursing stages.
Pediatric obesity courses discuss the different practices used to educate families on the prevention and treatment of childhood obesity. These courses may incorporate current literature in the field as students study possible causes of obesity, the epidemiology of obesity, and/or the assessment and treatment of the condition.
Career Outcomes with a Certificate in Pediatric Nutrition
Students with a certificate in pediatric nutrition usually work as a dietitian or nutritionist and specialize in working with children and their families. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), dietitians and nutritionists typically need at least a bachelor's degree, an internship experience for supervised training, and a state license. Dietitians may also choose to pursue a number of credentials to further advance their job prospects, such as the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) or Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS) credential. These professionals can also seek certifications in areas of specialty, including pediatric nutrition.
The BLS reported in 2019 that dietitians and nutritionists made an annual median salary of $61,270. From 2018 to 2028, the BLS reported that these professionals had a job outlook of 11%, which is much faster than average and may be attributed in part to the growing role of nutrition in preventative healthcare and/or the growing need for treatment and prevention in obesity cases. In general, dietitians and nutritionists work with clients to examine how nutrition can be used to meet health goals and/or manage diseases. A big part of their job is educating clients and/or providing educational materials or programs for the public.
Online certificate programs in pediatric nutrition are rare, but at least one is available at the graduate level. Pediatric nutrition certificates can usually be completed in 1 year, may be completed fully online, and are designed to prepare students to work with infants, children, and expectant and new mothers.