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What degree do I need to be a nutritionist?

If you open up any newspaper or watch a news channel for more than 15 minutes, you're likely to be bombarded with information about America's obesity epidemic and health crisis: Headlines have included everything from trans-fat bans to government plans to reduce soda consumption. If this sounds like a cause you'd like to fight for, you might consider becoming a nutritionist. Nutritionists are skilled medical professionals who can guide their patients through their food choices by promoting a healthy, nourishing diet. This also means that nutritionists are more than just diet coaches and they often work anywhere healthy eating is important -- in restaurants, schools, hospitals, nursing homes and cafeterias.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that most nutritionists have earned a bachelor's degree and have completed extensive hands-on learning through supervised internships. Future nutritionists can count on studying quite a bit during their degree program, as coursework will likely include dietetics, food, nutrition, chemistry, biology, physiology and food systems management. Internships provide practical applications for the book work, though requirements can vary. Some college programs require future nutritionists to complete several hundred hours of supervised practice after graduation, while others include this kind of clinical work during the course of the degree program. This means nutritionists can generally count on spending at least four years in school. Many nutritionists also choose to earn advanced degrees, according to the BLS, which can lead to advanced certifications. Accreditation requirements for nutritionists can vary by state. The BLS reports that some states require nutritionists to obtain licensure, some require nutritionists to be registered, and others have no regulations at all.


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