To become a nutrition specialist, you need a number of educational and professional qualifications. In many areas, a nutrition specialist must have an advanced degree and, in some cases, special certification as well. Generally, a certain number of hours of practice and experience are required before a person is able to get certification. Whether these qualifications are legally required depends on the area in which the job is located. While some nutrition specialists are employed by hospitals and other care facilities, many work independently and run independent businesses.
The first step needed to become a nutrition specialist is obtaining a bachelor's degree in nutrition or a related field. Many people find that an advanced degree is required in order to be competitive in the field, and in some areas, a doctorate degree may be required for certification. Most people recommend obtaining enough education to be considered professionally qualified when trying to become a nutrition specialist.
Obtaining certification is important in this field because there are many parties who offer dangerous nutritional advice. This casts doubt on people who claim to be nutrition specialists overall, and certification can alleviate some of this doubt. In general, it is necessary to have a high level of knowledge and experience in order to become certified, which may involve working as an assistant in some cases. It is important to note that in some situations the term dietitian is used interchangeably with nutrition specialist, but these two professions are not necessarily interchangeable.
Besides general nutrition specialist certification, there are also special certifications and focuses you might wish to explore when trying to become a nutrition specialist. For example, a school nutrition specialist will be particularly well suited to work in schools as well as in other areas involving children. A sports nutrition specialist will have a special advantage working with athletes. In some cases, the additional courses and training needed to become a nutrition specialist in these areas require little time, but the professional advantage can be great.
The final step when trying to become a nutrition specialist is actually obtaining a job. Many different types of organizations hire nutrition specialists, including hospitals, nursing homes, and schools. Nutrition specialists may also work independently with clients. Looking at the required educational and professional qualities listed in job advertisements can be a good way to determine how you can become a nutrition specialist in a specific area. Specific qualifications may differ between jobs, but tailoring your education to future employment is a good strategy if your career path is certain.