Do you have a passion for helping others lead healthier lives? If so, you may be interested in becoming a clinical nutritionist.
A clinical nutritionist is an expert on human nutrition who works with clients to identify and resolve nutritional and dietary issues. This job requires a combination of scientific knowledge, analytical thinking, and communication skills.
However, what kind of tasks do clinical nutritionists perform on a day-to-day basis? What kind of education is required to become one? Are there any online nutrition courses to consider?
Read on to learn more about how to become a clinical nutritionist:
GRE and GPA Requirements
Before you start studying for a career in clinical nutrition, you’ll need to make sure you meet the requirements. While there is no official GRE or GPA requirement to become a clinical nutritionist, it is important to consider your GPA and GRE scores as they reflect your abilities and potential.
You should aim to have a high GPA (>3.5) and a high GRE score (>320) or a high MAT (graduate admission test) score. Make sure to check the requirements of your preferred colleges and universities to confirm your score is sufficient.
Degree Options: Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree?
Most clinical nutritionists have a master’s degree in human nutrition and dietetics, which can take about two years. A bachelor’s degree in the same field can take four years to complete.
Both programs require students to complete an internship before graduation, which means you’d be able to start working as a clinical nutritionist as soon as you’ve received a decent amount of training.
However, nutritionists with a master’s degree will look more attractive to clients and employers, but it really depends on the company.
Required Courses and Coursework
No specific courses are required to become a clinical nutritionist, but you’ll need to take courses in biology, chemistry, anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, and nutrition.
Your program may require you to complete an undergraduate research project, complete an applied practicum, or complete an independent research project. The goal of this project is to help you to develop your research skills, which are crucial to being a successful clinical nutritionist.
Other coursework that may be included in online nutrition courses include:
- Diet and Health: This course helps students understand diet’s impact on health. Topics covered include obesity and nutrition, metabolic disorders, and food safety.
- Policy, Advocacy, and Ethics: This course looks at the policies and laws that impact the field of clinical nutrition, nutrition and ethical issues, and advocacy for healthy eating and active living.
- Nutritional Assessment: This course provides students with the tools they need to assess the nutritional status of clients.
As you progress through your program and start gaining work experience, you should aim to become certified in your field. Becoming certified shows potential employers that you have completed specific training and are up to date on the latest industry standards, requirements, and regulations.
Some of the most common certifications that clinical nutritionists can earn include:
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)
RDNs are the most common type of clinical nutritionist and can work in many different types of settings with all types of patients.
Certified Clinical Nutritionist (CCN)
CCNs are experts in the field of clinical nutrition, and they work primarily in hospitals and medical centers.
Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS)
CNSs are experts in nutrition, health, and wellness and can work with people of all ages in all types of settings.
The Bottom Line
Being a clinical nutritionist is a rewarding and fulfilling career that allows you to help others achieve better health through improved nutrition. However, this is not an easy career to break into.
While there are no strict educational requirements, this field is competitive, so you’ll likely need a high GPA, and GRE scores to have a strong resume. When you graduate, you’ll need to complete an internship and seek certification from online nutrition courses to help you stand out among other job seekers.