Career in Holistic Nutrition: Job Duties and Responsibilities

Holistic nutritionists go above and beyond to find healthy alternatives to modern medicine for their clients. Learn about the education, job duties and licensure requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

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The role of a holistic nutritionist will include the modification of a person's nutritional intake and an overall betterment of their way of life. The position typically requires a bachelor's degree in a health-related discipline, as well as voluntary certifications in specific programs like yoga or acupuncture.

Essential Information

For students with a passion for teaching people how to eat better, becoming a holistic nutritionist might be a good option. These professionals focus their efforts on improving a person's diet in order to improve their life both physically and emotionally. Most of these nutritionists are self-employed and build their own client list. Students interested in this career tend to hold a bachelor's in a health-related discipline. Subjects covered in training include culinary arts, herbology and metabolism. Licensure is required by most states. Voluntary certifications are available to students looking to further their skills and education.

Career Dietitians and Nutritionists
Education Requirements Bachelor's degree typically required
Other Requirements Licensure and certifications sometimes required
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 16%
Median Annual Salary (May 2015)* $57,910

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Holistic Nutrition Job Duties

Holistic nutritionists are well-versed in the preparation of unprocessed foods and may either train or consult with their patients on how to prepare healthy meals. Based on their belief that each person has different nutritional requirements, they devise diets to meet their clients' individual needs. Their treatment plans may also include physical practices such as yoga or acupuncture. Due to the nature of the work, many holistic nutritionists are self-employed and build their own client base through self-promotion and marketing, though some may coordinate their efforts with other health care professionals or institutions.

Skills and Responsibilities

Like other nutritionists, holistic nutritionists must develop active listening and critical thinking skills. Good communication skills are essential as well. Since most holistic nutritionists are self-employed, they also must know how to operate a business. They need to have good administrative, organizational and computer skills to run a successful practice.

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Career Options

Holistic nutritionists usually work as consultants, either in an integrated clinic or as solo practitioners. They may also work in school or corporate settings. Some holistic nutritionists choose to specialize in areas such as holistic sports nutrition, home nutrition or family nutrition therapy. Other careers in holistic nutrition include research, teaching and working for a supplement manufacturer or whole foods company. Writing nutrition guides or working as a chef are other career possibilities. According to the BLS, the median annual salary as of May 2015 for dietitians and nutritionists is $57,910. Job opportunities are expected to grow 16% between 2014 and 2024.

Required Education

There are many degree programs available to those interested in careers in holistic nutrition. Most nutritionists hold a bachelor's degree in a health-related discipline, and some may even hold a master's degree in a related field. Holistic nutrition education programs focus on natural healing, exercise, diet and philosophy in the promotion of human health. The National Association of Nutrition Professionals (NANP) formulates standards for holistic nutrition education and maintains a list of recommended programs.


Training programs for holistic health practitioners may be as short as three weeks or take as long as three years. Many programs incorporate real-life situations and projects into daily learning. Subjects covered within a holistic nutrition curriculum may include herbology, culinary arts, medicine, massage and nutrition. Holistic nutrition students also learn digestive physiology, metabolism, biochemistry and how to do lifestyle evaluations. Before employment, many students choose to intern at an institution or a business where they can apply their holistic nutrition skills in a hands-on environment.


There are currently no generally accepted minimum academic standards or licensing requirements for those who practice holistic nutrition. However, several organizations offer voluntary certification.

The Holistic Nutrition Credentialing Board of the NANP awards certification to applicants who pass a national exam. The American Naturopathic Certification Board offers certification in nutritional wellness. The American Association of Drugless Practitioners also offers certification to holistic nutritionists.

Holistic nutritionists often work for themselves, building a client list to generate income. In addition to a bachelor's degree or other specialized certifications, holistic nutritionists may benefit from added administrative and organizational skills.

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