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If you're considering becoming a registered dietitian or a nutritional counselor, it's helpful to understand all of the different nutritionist jobs available. Generally, nutritionist jobs require a bachelor's degree in food service systems management, dietetics, or food and nutrition. State requirements for license, certification, and registration can vary, however, so it's best to check with the appropriate office in the area in which you plan to work before you begin applying for job opportunities.
Obviously, hospitals and doctor's offices are good venues for nutritionist jobs. In the United States, over half of all nutritionist jobs are found in physicians' offices, hospitals, outpatient care centers, and nursing home facilities. Nutritionists are needed to supervise the preparation of meals in hospitals and nursing homes. Many also work with patients on a one-on-one basis to develop a nutrition therapy plan to treat diabetes, high blood pressure, or other chronic medical conditions. Other nutritionists may specialize in fields such as pediatric healthcare or prenatal health.
The government is the second largest employer of nutritionists. For example, skilled individuals are needed to run the nutrition programs that are part of the services offered by the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Correctional facilities are another significant source of jobs for nutritionists, since someone must plan nutritious yet cost-effective meals for the prisoners while accommodating a population with diverse medical needs.
For those unable to find a localized job site, you can become an online nutritionist with a facility that offers telemedicine. You’ll spend your days working with clients to understand their bodies’ dietary needs from the comfort of their homes. Depending on your location, though, these may not offer flexible hours. Instead, you’ll need to provide appointments during regular business hours.
While it’s true that telemedicine removes some of the “personal” aspects of working with a patient face-to-face, it’s an excellent way to reach out to those who struggle to leave their home due to limited mobility or disability.
Nutritionists with an entrepreneurial spirit can create their own private coaching businesses. Some nutritionists find a niche working with people who want to develop an eating plan for weight loss. Others specialize in nutrition programs for athletes, making sure clients are getting all the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients they need to keep up with a rigorous training schedule. A select few may serve as consultants to Hollywood's models, musicians, and actors.
Those who go on to pursue graduate level degrees can find nutritionist jobs as teachers and researchers. Both tenure and non-tenure track positions are available at colleges and universities. Research opportunities exist in academia, as well as at private manufacturers who need to analyze the nutritional value of the products they plan to sell.
Some nutritionists combine their extensive knowledge of healthy eating practices with strong communication skills to write columns for newspapers, magazines, and Web sites. Publications aimed towards women, for example, often have nutritionists write articles on topics such as losing weight after pregnancy, dealing with a child who is a picky eater, or preparing balanced meals after a long day at work. Even if a registered dietitian or nutrition counselor has a full-time job elsewhere, writing can offer the exposure needed to further his career goals.