What is the Best Degree To Become a Nutritionist?

NutritionistNutritionists work with their clients to ensure they eat healthy and follow any necessary nutrition plans, and those interested in the field often want to know what is the best degree to become a nutritionist. While a few states in the country don’t have any extensive licensing requirements and let some gain employment with only a high school degree and very little training, more than 40 states in the country require that nutritionists have a college degree and a license. The degree must come from an accredited college.

What is a Nutritionist?

Nutritionists remain on top of current diet and fitness trends, and they may do some research on their own on new types of diets and how different foods impact the body. They also work with individual clients to help them learn how to eat properly. Many nutritionists work with college, amateur and professional athletes and help them understand why they need to eat the right foods and consume enough calories every day. They also work with patients recommended to them by a doctor after a patient receives a new diagnosis or suffers a medical problem that requires they change their eating habits. Heart attack and diabetes patients often work with nutritionists.

Where do They Work?

Before looking at the best degree to become a nutritionist, you might consider where these professionals work. Nutritionists often work in hospitals and other medical facilities. This helps patients get the help and support that they need long before leaving the hospital and heading home. They also work in rehabilitation centers and outpatient clinics that focus specifically on treating those with eating disorders and other mental disorders. Nutritionists may also work in retirement homes and similar facilities to design meals for patients living on-site.

What Degree do You Need?

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the best degree to become a nutritionist is a bachelor’s degree in nutrition or a similar field from a college accredited by the Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics. There programs typically include four years of study with an additional one year of fieldwork, but some programs may combine the fieldwork component into the last year of study. This lets students complete the program in four years and gain at least one year of work experience. Students usually spend that year working in a retirement home, a hospital or an outpatient clinic.

Other Requirements

Nutritionists usually have both a license from the state where they live and work and certification. Arizona and several other states let applicants apply for a license with only a high school diploma and some experience in the nutrition field. Many of the other states ask that applicants complete a bachelor’s degree in nutritional science, have one or more years of fieldwork experience and have certification from a national organization. Most states ask that those interested in working as nutritionists pass a licensing examination. This test covers many of the same topics that you learn about in college.

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Nutritionists help patients learn more about the affect that foods have on their bodies and any medical conditions they might have. They learn how to work with patients and how to understand those factors through college programs. The best degree to become a nutritionist is a nutritional science degree from an accredited agency in the United States.