A Nutritionist is an individual with a college degree in nutrition, who may or may not be a Registered Dietitian.
The title of Nutritionist can be used loosely and is not always clearly defined. However, in most cases a bachelor's degree or master's degree in a nutrition related curriculum, such as nutritional sciences or dietetics, is required. Sometimes Nutritionists are individuals who studied dietetic curriculums, but did not receive placement in the internship program necessary to earn Registered Dietitian status. In other cases, a Nutritionist is an individual who purposely chose not to pursue an RD with the desire to practice and learn about nutrition in a non-medical environment.
Many states require credentialing for Nutritionists which is regulated from the same department that oversees the licensure of Registered Dietitians.
Requirements for each state are different as are the rules for using the title Registered or Licensed Dietitian versus Nutritionist. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, 35 states require that nutrition professionals be licensed, 12 require legal certification, and 1 requires that professionals be registered.
One example is the the state of Kentucky which offers certification for nutritionists with at least a master's degree in a nutrition-related field. This credential is abbreviated "CN" for certified nutritionist.
In addition, some individuals choose to obtain training and certifications from organizations focused on integrative nutrition, or complementary and alternative medicines. These individuals may consider themselves nutritionists; however, they may or may not have a college degree in nutrition.
The day-to-day duties of a Nutritionist can vary depending on the work environment. They can include diet analysis, development of eating plans for weight loss or exercise performance, conducting one-on-one or small group wellness coaching, teaching nutrition education classes, developing nutrition programs, and researching and writing nutrition-based articles or consumer handouts. Some Nutritionists perform marketing tasks and provide promotion of nutrition or food related businesses such as through website development, advertisements, and consumer research.
If you are considering a job as a Nutritionist, you should know that many who work with consumers and the general public are required to work hours outside of the typical 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. work day. For example, teaching evening and weekend educational classes is often necessary to provide an accessible time for those in the community wishing to attend.
Nutritionist Salary Information
The Bureau of Labor Statistics combines the work of Registered Dietitians and Nutritionists when estimating median salaries. For those working in the top five industries for the field which includes medical clinics, local governments and food services, median salaries ranged from $45,410 to $52,120 per year as of 2008. The overall median salary was reported at $50,590.