How do I Earn Nutrition Certification?

Lainie Petersen
Lainie Petersen

To earn nutrition certification start by considering your goals — both professional and personal — in the field. Then learn the various laws that govern the practice of giving nutrition and dietary advice in the place where you live. Finally, it is a good idea to consider the costs, both in time and in money, of getting nutrition certification. You will likely find the greatest acceptance for your nutrition education if you complete a degree in nutrition at an accredited university, and undergo the training needed to be certified by a reputable nutrition association in your area. However, there are many nutrition associations that offer certifications with less stringent requirements, which may meet your needs if you do not plan to practice in a clinical setting.

It is important to develop a clear plan for using your nutrition certification. If you hope to work as a dietitian or as a nutritionist in a clinical setting, such as a hospital or a medical practice, you will probably need to earn a bachelor's degree in nutrition, complete an internship, pass an exam, and eventually earn a post-graduate degree. If, on the other hand, you want to get the certification for personal enrichment or to enhance work that you are already doing, you may want to investigate the non-academic nutritionist certification courses offered by nutritionist associations.

In some places, the law requires those who give nutrition advice or work as a dietitian in an institution, such as a hospital, to be either licensed or certified by a reputable professional organization or local government. These laws may also restrict the use of occupational titles. For example, it may be illegal to call yourself a nutritionist or a certified nutritionist unless you hold a specific license, have completed certain education requirements or hold a nutrition certification from a recognized authority.

On the other hand, other areas may not restrict the use of titles or require licensure or certification of nutrition practitioners. If your government does not recognize your nutrition certification, you may be able to use the title of diet counselor or nutrition advisor without any penalty. However, it is extremely important that you understand these laws so that you are in no danger of breaking them.

Pursuing an academic degree is likely to cost the most initial investment in turns of both time and money. But if your goal is to become a registered dietitian or clinical nutritionist, it may be your only option for reaching your professional goals. If you are working in a health-related field, such as personal training or massage therapy, a shorter course, perhaps offered via distance education, may be your best option. In either case, it is important to check out the school's accreditation status and reputation prior to enrolling or paying any money.

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