How to Become a Nutritionist

Brandi Glass
8 min read
A Woman Using a Blender

Becoming a nutritionist is a rewarding career path for those passionate about health, wellness, and helping others.

Keep reading to discover how to become a nutritionist, step by step. We’ll explore the nutritionist education requirements and how they vary according to the state, along with nutritionist salary ranges and how to build a resume that will lead to nutritionist job offers.

What is a Nutritionist?

A nutritionist is a healthcare professional who specializes in the study of food and its impact on the human body and health.

There’s often confusion over what it means to be a dietician vs nutritionist. Let’s break down the difference between dietician and nutritionist.

Nutritionist vs dietician:

There’s a lot of overlap between nutritionists and dieticians. They both specialize in food and how it affects us. So at first glance, you might think that there’s no difference between dietician and nutritionist.

However, there is one very important difference between dietician vs nutritionist, both for patients and the professionals themselves. Dieticians are often more regulated than nutritionists.

In some states, the licensing requirements for a nutritionist vs dietician are much easier to achieve. In fact, some states don’t have any licensing requirements. Anybody can start offering nutritionist services, even if they’ve never studied nutrition.

What Does a Nutritionist Do?

Nutritionists work with people to assess their nutritional needs and support them in living healthier lives. They often develop personalized meal plans. Another large part of the nutritionist’s role is educating clients on better eating habits to improve their overall health and well-being, as well as preventing disease.

How to Become a Nutritionist

Sometimes, it can feel like the answer to how to become a nutritionist is shrouded in mystery. Different states have varying requirements, while some have none at all. Let’s remove the mystery.

To become a nutritionist, the first step is to review your state's licensing or certification requirements. Check your state website and read through the information carefully.

Most states will require you to obtain a bachelor's degree in nutrition or a related field, such as food science. Even if you’re not required to go to college, it’s a good idea to do so. It will help you learn the most up-to-date information about nutrition from authoritative sources. You can also consider additional graduate studies or specialist courses.

Some states also require a minimum number of hours of pre-professional work experience. You can achieve these through internships at local nutritionist clinics. Your college may also support you in doing this.

Once you’ve met your state’s requirements, it’s time to sit your licensing and/or certification exam. It will test your knowledge of nutrition science and related topics.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Nutritionist?

Most people can become a nutritionist in four years. You’ll need to finish your bachelor’s degree and then pass your state licensing and/or certification exam. Achieving your nutritionist education requirements is the most time-consuming part of becoming a nutritionist.

How Long is Nutritionist Training?

The standard bachelor’s degree in nutrition requires four years of full-time study. Part-time students, however, will find it takes them longer to complete their undergraduate degree.

A Day in the Life of a Nutritionist

Woman with Burger and Apple in Hands

A nutritionist spends their day reviewing clients' food diaries and planning customized meal plans based on individual goals and dietary needs. They conduct one-on-one consultations and provide tailored advice on balanced diets, portion control, nutrient intake, and more.

When not in client consultations or creating meal plans, they might also lead group sessions on healthy eating habits, create educational or marketing content, or contribute to research projects. They also need to find time for administrative tasks, such as filing paperwork, and reading about the latest dietary studies in peer-reviewed journals.

On less typical days, they might attend workshops, seminars, or courses to stay updated on the latest nutrition science and trends. They’ll also regularly liaise with healthcare professionals.

Nutritionist Salary: How Much Does a Nutritionist Make?

The average dietitian and nutritionist salary in the US is $61,650, according to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, the exact amount you can expect to earn will depend on your location, qualifications, experience level, and more. Spending time honing your nutritionist resume can also enable you to achieve a higher-paying nutritionist position.

Nutritionist Salary Ranges

Most nutritionists and dietitians earn between $42,530 and $93,640 a year, according to US government data. The lowest-paid nutritionists and dietitians tend to work in nursing and residential care facilities. Meanwhile, at $74,640, the average nutritionist salary in an outpatient care center is much higher.

How Much Does a Nutritionist Make an Hour?

Nutritionists and dietitians earn $29.64 per hour on average in the US. Higher-paid nutritionists can earn over $45 an hour. On the lower end of the scale, nutritionist salaries can fall to as low as $20 an hour.

Is Becoming a Nutritionist a Good Fit for Me?

If you're passionate about health and wellness, a career as a nutritionist could be highly rewarding.

Successful nutritionists possess strong communication and interpersonal skills to build trust with clients. You'll also need empathy, patience, and problem-solving abilities to address diverse dietary concerns.

A solid foundation in science and a commitment to staying informed about evolving nutrition research is crucial. Excellent organizational and time-management skills will also ensure efficiency in client consultations and administrative tasks.

Perhaps most importantly of all, you need to be motivated by the idea of helping others achieve their health goals in a supportive and non-judgmental way.

Where Can a Nutritionist Work?

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Nutritionists work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, private practice, government agencies, schools, universities, research institutions, sports organizations, and community health centers. They may also work for food and beverage companies, providing nutrition analysis and product development.

A nutritionist’s workplace may vary depending on the area of specialization and the type of clients served. For example, a nutritionist who works with athletes could work in a sports organization, while a nutritionist who specializes in pediatric nutrition may work in a children's hospital or clinic.

How to Apply for Nutritionist Jobs

Applying for nutritionist roles requires a compelling cover letter and a nutritionist resume that catch a recruiter’s eye.

A well-crafted cover letter for nutritionists gives you the chance to introduce yourself, highlight your qualifications, and explain your interest in the role. You should explain why you want to become a nutritionist.

Your nutritionist resume should include your education, work experience, and any relevant certifications or licenses. Using a nutritionist resume example can help you pick the ideal nutritionist resume format and language.

Or even better, you can use one of our easy resume templates. They’ll ensure that you use the best nutritionist resume format. Plus, our resume builder will talk you through customizing it to a nutritionist job description. Resume building can be challenging, but with the right nutritionist resume example and template, you’ll be able to build an excellent resume and cover letter for nutritionists in minutes.

In addition to building a strong cover letter and resume, networking, and online job searches are useful tools for finding nutritionist job opportunities. Professional networking websites like LinkedIn allow you to connect with potential employers and showcase your qualifications. Online job search websites and company career pages are also valuable resources for finding open positions.

Once you’ve found a job opening that interests you, make sure to adapt your application materials to the specific nutritionist job description.

It can also be helpful to research the company and incorporate information about its mission and values into your cover letter and resume. Nutritionist template

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Some questions come up again and again among readers wondering how to become a nutritionist. Keep reading to see if your question is answered here.

How to Become a Nutritionist Without a Degree

Most US states require nutritionists to have a relevant degree along with a state license or certification. In some states, however, you may be able to offer nutritionist services without a degree as long as your title doesn’t imply that you’re a certified or licensed nutritionist or dietitian.

How to Become a Holistic Nutritionist

The first step to becoming a holistic nutritionist is studying for a relevant bachelor’s degree. Look for a degree, or supplementary courses, that examine how lifestyle and environment interact with nutrition. This will help you take a holistic approach to your client’s nutritional needs.

How to Get Certified as a Nutritionist

To become a certified nutritionist, start by checking your state’s requirements. You will probably need to achieve a bachelor’s degree or higher before sitting an exam. Some states also require a minimum number of hours of pre-professional work experience.

How to Become a Nutritionist in California

If you want to provide non-medical nutritionist services in California, there are no education or licensing requirements. However, studying for a bachelor’s degree will help you gain a comprehensive understanding of nutrition and provide the best possible services for your clients.

How Many Years to Become a Nutritionist?

For most students, a bachelor’s degree in nutrition requires four years of full-time study. Some nutritionists go on to study for graduate degrees or additional certification, but most nutritionists complete their training within four to seven years.

What Does It Take to Become a Nutritionist?

Becoming a nutritionist requires a passion for helping others along with positive attitudes toward science and learning. You’ll typically need to achieve a bachelor’s degree or higher, and most nutritionists spend their entire working lives learning more about how what we eat affects our health and well-being.

What Degree Do I Need to Be a Nutritionist?

You currently need at least a bachelor’s degree in nutrition to become a licensed or certified nutritionist. However, depending on the certification or license you’re applying for, you may need a graduate-level degree such as a Master’s in Nutrition or a Master’s in Public Health.

What is a Sports Nutritionist?

A sports nutritionist specializes in nutrition for athletic performance and well-being. They create tailored dietary plans, give supplement recommendations, and offer guidance to optimize athletes' performance, recovery, and health. They may further specialize in specific sports or population groups, e.g. pregnant people, women, or the over-50s.

How to Become an Animal Nutritionist

Aspiring animal nutritionists need to study for a relevant four-year degree. Additional specialist certification will help you gain a more profound knowledge of animal nutrition and stand out from other applicants.

How to Become a Licensed Nutritionist

The path to becoming a licensed nutritionist varies according to the state you’re operating in, so make sure to double-check the requirements with your local board. Most states require a bachelor’s degree or higher. Some also require a minimum number of hours of pre-professional work experience.

How to Become a Nutritionist: Florida

If you want to become a nutritionist in Florida, you’ll need to study for a bachelor’s degree (or higher!) in nutrition or another related area from an accredited college or university. You’ll also need 900 hours of work experience under your belt, and to pass the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) Examination.

How to Become a Nutritionist in Texas

You don’t need any formal education or licensing to operate as a nutritionist in Texas, although studying a degree will help you gain a solid knowledge of nutrition so that you can provide better services. In Texas, only dietitians require licenses.

How to Become a Nutritionist in NY

Becoming a certified nutritionist in New York normally requires a bachelor’s degree in dietetics or nutrition plus 800 hours of experience. However, if you have endorsements from three approved nutritionists plus 10+ years of education and experience, adding up to 16,000+ hours, you may be able to achieve certification with just an associate’s degree.

Resume writing is an investment in achieving your dream career as a nutrisionist, and you’ll be more successful when you take the time to tailor your application with Rocket Resume!