Food plays an important role for all of us, as what you eat each day will affect your health in both the short term and long term. That’s why you should always think about putting the best foods you can find in your body the next time you go grocery shopping, start cooking or walk around to find a good restaurant for your next meal.

Thanks to the rise of fast-food chains such as MacDonalds, Burger King, and KFC over the past several decades, around 30% of adults and 17% of children living in the United States have become medically obese.

What’s more, even if you are not medically obese, you can still be affected by consuming a poor diet. The cumulation of multiple unhealthy foods in your body can lead to health problems that can result in early death.

That’s why it’s so important to start paying attention to what you eat early in life, which is where the role of a nutritionist comes in.

Chinese dumplings freshly cooked.
Food plays an important role in our lives. (source: unsplash)

What Do Nutritionists Do?

As a branch of science, nutrition studies are related to agricultural and food studies. It looks into general health issues related to the consumption of food, and medicines. In fact, one of the earliest discoveries of nutrition scientists is the identification of the linkage between scurvy and beriberi to vitamin deficiencies.

These discoveries led to a cure for scurvy which helped many sailors survive during their long voyages on the sea.

Nutritionists can be registered or unregistered. A registered nutritionist studies how food, human nutrition, and diet through an accredited university or program of studies. After the completion of their studies, they must complete an internship as well as pass a licensure exam before they can qualify as a registered dietitian with the RD title.

People who call themselves nutritionists but do not have the RD or RDN title can also be called nutritionists. Usually, these people have not completed formal nutrition education to study nutrition, or they did not pass the exams to receive their RD title.

In the workplace, nutritionists advocate for healthy eating and can help introduce new foods into a person’s diet for disease prevention. The nutritionists who work for the government can become policy-makers who advocate healthy eating or do nutrition research.

They could also contribute to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which is published and updated every 5 years by the HHS and the USDA and is the United States’s go-to source for nutrition information.

Where to Work as a Nutritionist

A workday in the life of a nutritionist can involve assessing the needs of their clients’ health and diet, counseling people on health-related issues, promoting healthy eating habits, keeping up with the latest nutrition science research, and many others. Special for-hire nutritionists can even provide customized plans for individuals dealing with specific health issues like high blood pressure.

For self-employed nutritionists, they can choose to work at an office location of their choice or work online to promote remote consultations.

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

Clinical nutritionists work in medical facilities like hospitals, long-term care institutions, and private clinics. They provide medical nutrition therapy by creating nutritional programs based on the health of their clients and residents who seek their advice.

Their primary goal is to help their clients lead a healthier lifestyle so they can enjoy their lives

Nutritionists who work for the community specialize in counseling a specific group 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.

According to 2012 data published by the U.S. Department of Labour, a total of 31% of nutritionists work in local, state, or private hospitals. 13% work for government agencies while 9% work for nursing homes and residential care facilities. Other less common locations that employ nutritionists include health practitioner offices and outpatient care centers.

Bread, cheese, and sliced meat.
Nutritionists are needed in every U.S. state. (source: unsplash)

Job Outlook For Nutritionists

Worried about getting a job after the completion of nutrition education? Well, don’t be! In the United States, nutritionists are needed in every state. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that the job opportunities for nutritionists will increase by 21 percent between 2012 and 2022.

This increase is the largest out of all other fields of occupations likely links to the growing national concern about rising obesity and chronic disease rates

The top five states that are expecting the largest growth in employment for nutritionists are Texas, Utah, Colorado, Kentucky, and Arizona.

In Texas, the growth rate is expected to be 30.1%, while Utah, Colorado, and Kentucky are close behind with growth rates for nutritionists at 29.9%, 28.2%, and 27.7% respectively. Arizona, in the fifth place, has a lower rate for the job outlook for nutritionists at 25.5%.

The work schedule for most nutritionists is full time, with only about 20% working part-time positions. Self-employed nutritionists, on the other hand, have more control over the number of hours they work and how many days they can work in a week.

They can also take extended vacations or choose to work over the weekends if they have many clients they need to service.

In order to work as an entry-level nutritionist anywhere in the country, most aspiring nutritionists choose to get a bachelor’s degree in a health or nutrition or a related field. These undergraduate programs involve nutrition courses that can be taken at any university in the country.

Some programs they can enroll in that can lead to a certified nutritionist title include Food Science, Microbiology, Nutrition Biochemistry, and Community Nutrition.

How Much Can You Make as a Nutritionist?

Based on research from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2014 nutritionists earned a median annual wage of $56,950 while the top ten percent of people working in the nutritionist profession made $79,840 or more.

The average hourly wage of nutritionists is $27.38, which is far above the minimum wage in all U.S. states.

The states with the highest salaries for nutritionists in 2014 are California, Maryland, Nevada, Connecticut, and New Jersey. The highest annual salary for Nutritionist in California was $72,010, in Maryland it was $66,340, in Nevada it was $65,600, in Connecticut it was $64,970, and in New Jersey, it was $64,910.

Bowl of rice, vegetables, beans, lentils.
Nutritionists can work in private health clinics, hospitals, schools, and community centers. (source: unsplash)

Nutrition Tips from the Best Nutritionists

For aspiring nutritionists, the first step is to practice what you preach. Check out these nutrition health tips from nutritionists to get you on track for healthy eating in no time!

The first tip is to eat healthy proteins, which includes nuts, seeds, fish, lean meat, and more. The second tip is to drink lots of water to maintain hydrated throughout the day.

Consider investing in a nice water bottle that will keep your water nice and cold throughout the day. The third tip is to eat fresh fruits and vegetables. To improve your consumption levels, consider tracking your fruit and vegetable consumption and then improving upon your current levels.

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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.