In the United States, professional nutritionists are in demand in every state. There has also been a rise in the number of fast-food chains over the past several decades that has led to rising obesity rates. In fact, more than 30% of adults and 17% of children living in the United States are now considered medically obese.

Even if you are not medically obese or if you go out of your way to avoid fast foods, you should still make sure you get all the right nutrients you need. With so many different food choices inside grocery stores, what combination of foods should you choose to maintain yourself? That’s where the role of a nutritionist comes in.

A stack of toast sitting on a white plate.
In the United States, obesity rates are rising. Nutritionists can help reverse this trend. (source: unsplash)

Work as a Nutritionist

Nutrition is a branch of science that combines molecular biology, biochemistry, agricultural, and food studies courses. As nutrition students, one can focus their studies on general health issues and chronic diseases related to the consumption of food.

Another area of studies they can also focus on is the prevention of chronic diseases and how to choose a healthy and balanced diet.

In the working world, nutritionists provide nutrition information, food nutrition research, nutrition programs, dietary guidelines, for clients and people in their communities to enhance their relationship with food.

Nutritionists can be found in medical facilities, long-term care facilities, public health organizations, schools, and nonprofit agencies. Additionally, some nutritionists can also choose to be self-employed and work at a location of their choice.

Like many other professionals, most nutritionists go through a formal education program and at a post-secondary level where they learn crucial facts and information to help them succeed in their careers.

In the early years of their studies, nutritionists take a general range of foundational science courses. Later, in the senior years of their nutrition studies, they can choose to focus their program on specific subjects within the topic, like what health issues are related to the consumption of certain foods, and how metabolic pathways work inside human bodies to convert food into energy.

Where to Work as a Nutritionist?

Nutritionists can be registered or unregistered. Registered nutritionists usually have advanced degrees and have completed a series of nutrition courses through an accredited university or program and also passed a professional licensure exam. They are allowed to have the RD title next to their name.

Nutritionists who do not have an RD or RDN title next to their name can also work as nutritionists but may not have completed formal nutritionist education or passed the licensure exam.

Clinical nutritionists work in medical facilities like hospitals, long-term care institutions, and private clinics. Others who work for the community specialize in counseling specific groups of people such as seniors or children. Their work location can be in public health organizations, nonprofit agency offices, health maintenance organizations, schools, nursing homes, and even community centers.

For self-employed dietitians, they have more freedom to choose their working time and location. They can schedule their services based on their clients’ availability and can even choose to work at an office location of their choice. They can also choose to jump into the digital age by working online to provide remote consultations.

However, they may need to spend their time marketing their services and doing other business-related tasks such as accounting.

A pizza being sliced by a fork.
Nutritionists can be registered or unregistered. (source: unsplash)

Find Clients as a Nutritionist

If you practice nutrition as your occupation and have decided to go the self-employed route, one of the most challenging tasks you will face is finding enough clients to sustain your business.

Believe it or not, it’s not as easy as simply putting up a website and waiting for your clients to come to you. Building your own nutrition business involves lots of hard work, you might even consider hiring a marketing consultant to help market your business.

To start off, ask yourself what type of nutrition and health services would you like to provide? Do you want to offer nutrition therapy, provide nutrition advice, specializing in sports nutrition, medical nutrition, or provide general health and wellness advice related to nutrition science?

The first step to actively searching for your own clients is to identify where you would find them. Ask yourself these questions: where are you likely to find people who could use nutrition guidance and help? What are some places these people would gather on a daily basis? Who is more likely to seek dietary help and nutrition education?

Once you identify where these people are, you can frequent these locations, whether online or offline and start conversations with your potential clients.

In your conversations, you can choose to educate them and provide them with value. The goal here is to build budding relationships with them to gain their trust. Once you have established yourself as a nutrition specialist, it’s easy to spread the word for your business and make it grow.

Expanding Your Online Nutrition Presence

In this age of the internet, it’s one of the best places where you can start to build your own online nutrition business. For numerous businesses, the internet is the place where they got their start. It is a huge space full of endless opportunities so it’s best to learn how to leverage the power of the internet early for your nutrition business.

To start off, learn your way around the internet by using Google. This ultimate search engine has become the go-to place for numerous people to find the goods and services they need. As a budding nutritionist, you can use it to find associations and nutrition organizations in your area where you can connect with potential clients.

Another area where you can expand your online presence as a nutritionist is through social media. If you don’t use Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and other popular social media websites and applications, it’s a good idea to look around on those websites first and get familiar with the interface first.

Once you are used to them, you can start using Facebook and Instagram to connect and have conversations with potential nutrition clients.

Person typing on a laptop, with their screen showing
Learn how to leverage the power of the internet to grow your nutrition business. (source: unsplash)

Tips for Managing Your Own Nutritionist Business

Once you have a handful of clients to sustain your small nutrition services business, consider these helpful tips for running and managing your very nutrition business.

The first tip is to do your accounting properly. There is a reason people go through four years of university education to study accounting - it’s not a simple subject! If you don’t have the resources, consider paying an accounting software to do this yourself or to hire a part-time bookkeeper.

This will save you a lot of trouble during tax season and will give you more time to work with your clients instead of worrying about tax season.

The second tip is to pay yourself first. Are you making enough money to sustain yourself and your business in the long run? If you are not seeing the fruits of your hard labor, especially after several years in the business, it’s a good idea to reconsider whether you’d like to stay in the business or not

The last tip is to always be frugal. Working for yourself usually means you don’t always have a steady paycheck. No matter what you need to purchase or any services you need to pay, always aim to cut down on costs and look for government-funded programs that will help your small business grow.

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Former high-school tutor with a passion for science and technology, I now work in the software industry and enjoy reading and learning about all kinds of topics.