How to become a nutritionist

Professions dealing with links between eating habits and health are becoming more and more popular these days. Due to chaotic lifestyles, many people have become obese and sick in many ways. The demand for nutrition consultants is on the constant rise and professions dealing with regulating your diet will be well-paid in the next few decades. Here are some reasons for such a bad condition of your fellow members of the mankind and some tips on how to become a food expert.

 What has lead to such a degree of obesity?

The arrival of the 21st century has brought many changes in all areas of human work. Mainly thanks to the information technology revolution, which started in the 1980s but saw its peak in the first decade of the 2000s, our everyday habits and routines have undergone serious changes which have a huge impact on our bodies and minds. When talking about these changes, it is not that all of them have had a negative effect on our health. Numerous advancements in the field of medical research have been reached because the development of different technologies has sped up the process of finding the right therapy for the sick or more efficient cures for different diseases. However, there have been enormous changes in the way we eat and what diet strategies we apply. What started in the 1980s as a trend of fast-food restaurants inspired by the lifestyle of yuppies developed into a seemingly unstoppable plague of bad eating habits that have overwhelmed not only the largest part of the Western world, but also almost all major capitals in the world. The labor market in which you have to fight badly for every work hour or project and still live mainly poorly (not only financially) only adds to the fact that we have forgotten how, when and what to eat. The money-gaining rat race has become an obsession of many people around the globe and many workers today are under a lot of pressure to succeed in what they are doing. They either want to excel to the maximum or simply vanish. By adopting such an attitude towards your life and your health you maximize the potential for developing all kinds of diseases and disorders. For those who have a rich health insurance policy we can only say that what they are doing is eventually going to lead to a major decline in the quality of their living. All others, who cannot pay a day in the hospital five or ten thousand dollars, have to stop for a while and think about their future. If you are among these people and you have been fighting irregular and misbalanced eating habits and physical issues caused by them, but you just cannot make them work in a proper way, you should definitely ask for professional assistance. And then new professional nutrition assistants can be recruited out of those once-obese and sick help-seeking individuals. Now we are going to see what requirements every nutrition consultant-wannabe needs to meet to become a real dietitian or nutrition.

Nutritionist or dietitian – that is the question

These two terms are often used interchangeably, but the truth is that that is not actually always the most accurate use of these words. The term nutritionist can be explained as a wider concept, covering several branches and narrower areas of food specialist practice. Nutritionist degrees can vary a lot and they usually refer to different things in different parts of the world. The term dietitian, on the other hand, refers to a more specialized expert, at least according to the US Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. To become a dietitian, you have to finish bachelor studies in order to get a bachelor’s degree in dietetics. After that, every future dietitian needs to spend a certain minimum of hours which is treated as the internship. This period work of work is supervised by more experienced licensed dietitians, who both teach you how to apply what you have learned in your bachelor studies and also correct any possible mistakes of yours. In the USA, the number of these hours is 1,200. When this period has been finished, you are ready to sit a registration exam. Only when you have passed this complex test can you start working as a registered and trustworthy dietitian. The number of proscribed internship hours and the procedure for becoming a licensed and registered dietitian vary from country to country and everyone who is interested in attending such a course or enroll studies should always check all the requirements before he or she starts educating themselves in that direction.

It is also important to stress out that dietitians usually listen to different modules in clinical nutrition, medical therapy based on nutrition and they also learn how to manage food in different work areas and communities. Nutritionists may have the same education, but they are not obliged to. Whatever degree in nutrition somebody interested in learning more about food and diet obtains, no matter if it is a certified online course or an on-site one, he or she will be able to study and work more to advance their knowledge and work positions.

What range or work do Ds and Ns cover?

If you are in two minds over the decision of whether or not to become a nutrition specialist, perhaps you do not have enough information about the range of work dietitians and nutritionists do. Learning about their duties and getting the full image of your potential future responsibilities might push you away this profession or, on the contrary, make you even more eager for it. As common sense suggests (and the first paragraph of this text hints), dietitians and nutritionists advise people who have nutrition problems. Since nutrition issues are usually not an isolated case in the human body, dietitians and nutritionists often need to apply a holistic nutrition approach in their work with people with misbalanced diet. Using a holistic approach in any area means that you have to have a high level of education. This is ensured by strict regulations that all developed countries have in terms of becoming a certified and register food and health adviser. However, not all nutritionists will be able to work as dietitians, as we have already stated. But they will share some common work duties.

First of them is evaluating the overall health state of their patients. They will have to be able to come up with a diagnosis, where a dietitian is usually someone who has a medical institution behind his or her back and a nutritionist has his or her personal credentials and reputation. Nutritionists also get different forms of certification but they are not eligible for clinical work, which is the case with dietitians. To cut a long story short, you can see dietitians in hospitals, medical centers and labs, where they work on different researches and tests connected with diet, food and related problems; nutritionists cannot be seen at such places, but they are rather advisers. However, the biggest advantage of being a nutritionist lies in the fact that you can do another job of a similar nature (such as a personal trainer) and then do some extra freelancing in the field of nutrition. Of course, this additional work does not go without proper nutrition education and certificates.

How to become a nutrition consultant

Wanted characteristics of Ds and Ns

People who decide to become dietitians and nutritionists have to possess a certain set of skills. You are going to work with people in a very delicate field – health issues – and you have to be ready for a lifelong improvement and constant work on your skills (let’s face it – not all professions need to do so. These conditions demand for a special type of personality. Hasty, neurotic, impatient or aggressive people should never try to find their place under the sun in this field of work. Dietitians and nutritionists should at the same time have the listening qualities of a mother and the authority of an English private school headmaster.
Apart from that, these two professions require great organizational skills, since they will work with many people during one work day. Those freelancing and self-employed ones will have to posses some level of personal discipline in order to manage to be their own bosses. Also, these people should be good analysts, so that they can process all the data they receive about their clients and then devise the most appropriate eating plan for them. If some of you recognize that you have most of these skills, but still have certain fears that you might have problems with some of them, do not fall into despair. Today many dietetics online courses offer great modules and detailed trainings in both dietetics itself and psychological trainings for overcoming our own issues in order to improve your service as a dietitian or a nutritionist.

How to find a job?

Offline space

Before giving you a couple of directions on how to start working in this branch, it is important to say that you can start looking for a job even before you have completed the whole module or course. Depending on their work policies, many dietitian and nutrition consulting services will accept your job application even if you still have not been through all the steps of education for this job. They usually require that you have a couple of exams left and that you have already passed all the vital courses for your future work, such as anatomy, biology, microbiology, chemistry, biochemistry and similar sciences. Of course, if you have just enrolled bachelor studies, it is a bit too ambitious to start searching for a job immediately. But it is true that some clinics and practices that are specialized for providing nutrition consulting will be interested in hiring undergraduates who have had remarkable results during their studies.

Once you have finished your degree, no matter if it is a certified program, an associate degree, or a bachelor’s degree, you can start looking for a full-time post and belonging salary in one of numerous state-owned and private institutions, like nursing homes, hospitals, schools, companies and any other social facilities that might need a person who will create their diet and meals plans for large groups of people eating in their premises.
On the other hand, you can start with a private practice and work as a nutritionist or dietitian who offers individual help to those who need it. However, never start working on your own before you have become a certified nutrition counselor. Working for registered companies while still attending trainings is a completely different pair of shoes, since their regulations are in accordance with the law and you are employed under precise rules.
But working on your own without a certificate and registration can put you at great risk of being banned to work at all for a couple of years.

Virtual space

Apart from the abovementioned jobs in dietetics and nutrition practices and clinics, you can also try to offer your services online. Due to the appearance of numerous job-mediating sites, like Elance, oDesk, Freelancer etc, many people have started working online and they are doing just fine, sometimes even better than those working a regular eight-hour work. Knowing that, you should first get your certificate(s) and start creating your online profile as a nutritionist or dietitian. The greatest advantage of this job-seeking strategy is that you can work for anybody from any part of the world. That will definitely expand the possibility of finding new clients and potential customers. In addition to these sites on which people look for clients and service-providers, you can also benefit a lot from social groups. Positive feedbacks on quality service-providers are quickly shared in online community, which means that you could also create your profile on Facebook, Google+ or any other community and that way also manage to attract new clients. Becoming an online nutritionist or a dietitian can lead to better job offers and faster advancement than working in offline conditions. And the best part if the fact that you yourself make your own daily schedules; you are your own boss.

According to an analysis conducted by FAO, by year 2050 the world’s population will have reached almost 9.5 billion people. This means that the demand for food will be constantly increasing. The trend will continue even in the second half of this century. If we want to avoid an apocalyptic scenario, the whole world will have to take better care of food. People will have to think more seriously about ways of producing and consuming food. This is where nutritionists and dietitians will play a leading role. Gathering knowledge about food and being able to share it with others will mean more work for these two professions. When all this is taken into consideration, dietitians and nutritionists have promising work predictions and everybody who has preferences for this kind of work should educate themselves and get proscribed certificates to start working as nutrition consultants.

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