Nutritionist FAQs

  • Introduction

    It's estimated that 95% of Americans don't meet their daily fiber intake. This is just one example of how the average person's diet may be lacking. A diet deficient in proper nutrients and vitamins can lead to low energy levels, difficulties with memory and problem-solving, as well as various short- or long-term health issues.

    Luckily, a nutritionist can help identify whether a person is missing critical components in their diet and help them create a plan to address these deficiencies. A nutritionist can also help identify food allergies or intolerances, share healthy recipes, create an exercise plan, and monitor a person's progress toward a goal. There are many nutritionists out there, so you want to make sure you understand the different types of nutritionists and how they can help before hiring anyone.

  • What does a nutritionist do?

    A nutritionist is a specialist in food, nutrition, and health. People can go to a nutritionist to get help with their health-related goals, including diet and exercise plans. The plans are customized to the individual and their unique problems or goals.

  • What are the different types of nutritionists?

    • Clinical nutritionists typically work with people to help resolve health issues through a nutritious diet.
    • Sports nutritionists works with athletes or active people who want to elevate their nutrition.
    • Holistic nutritionists look to improve the person’s mind, body, and soul. They focus on using natural foods versus conventional medicine.
  • Is a nutritionist a doctor?

    A nutritionist doesn't have to be a doctor, but a doctor can be a nutritionist. A doctor is an individual with a Doctor of Medicine or a doctorate (Ph.D.) degree. A nutritionist can have just a license, although in some states, even that isn't required. Therefore, a doctor has above-and-beyond credentials to be a nutritionist, but a nutritionist isn't a doctor.

  • What degree does a nutritionist need?

    A registered nutritionist needs to have completed a four-year bachelor’s degree in a relevant field. Some of the most common majors for nutritionists are food science, nutrition, biochemistry, dietetics, biology, and chemistry.
    Registered nutritionists can also go on to get their Master’s Degree in Human Nutrition.

  • Do nutritionists have to be licensed?

    Not all states require nutritionists to be licensed or certified. However, many clients prefer to work with a licensed nutritionist for peace of mind that the person is qualified in their field. Additionally, most people prefer to work with a licensed nutritionist if they have insurance, so they can be reimbursed for costs.

  • What is the difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist?

    A handful of states don't monitor use of the title "nutritionist." A person can opt to get a license or certification in these states, but it's not mandatory. In comparison, a dietitian has to earn their title with a national board certification. Additionally, 13 states require dietitians to be licensed.

  • Should I see a dietitian or nutritionist to lose weight?

    Either a dietitian or a nutritionist can help you lose weight. Clients work with these professionals to set realistic goals and make meal and exercise plans to achieve their goals. Both dietitians and nutritionists can teach individuals about nutrition so they can lose weight and maintain a healthy weight long-term.

  • Can a nutritionist give me a meal plan?

    A nutritionist can build a customized meal plan based on a person's goals and needs. The purpose of this meal plan is to reteach the client how to eat healthily. Eventually, as the individual adopts these new eating habits, they'll be able to continue on without a meal plan.

  • How much does a nutritionist cost?

    The average cost of a session with a nutritionist can range from $90 to $130. This price can vary depending on factors such as the state you’re in, the level of education of the nutritionist, the length of the session, and others. Some nutritionists will offer a discount on prepaid packages of sessions.

  • Does Medicare cover nutritionists?

    Medicare only covers medical nutritional therapy (MNT) for beneficiaries with certain conditions, such as have diabetes or kidney disease, or who've had a kidney transplant in the last three years. In some cases, Medicare Part B may pay for nutritional therapy. If nutritional therapy is covered, services must be provided by a licensed and certified nutritionist.

  • Does insurance cover nutritionists?

    Many insurance plans cover nutritionists, although some plans require referrals from a person's primary care doctor. Contact your insurance provider directly to find out if you have coverage, the claim limit per session, and the annual maximum for nutritional services. Additionally, ask if a nutritionist needs to meet specific requirements, such as being licensed or certified.

  • How do you become a nutritionist?

    In some states, anyone with an interest in nutrition can start practicing as a nutritionist. However, most individuals choose to become a registered nutritionist by:

    • Earning a bachelor's degree in a relevant field
    • Completing a Master’s degree in clinical nutrition
    • Passing state or national licensing/certification exams, such as the Certified Nutrition Specialist exam

  • How long does it take to become a nutritionist?

    The time frame to become a nutritionist varies. In some states, you can start immediately without any specialized education or certifications. It can take four years and a few months to earn a bachelor’s degree and pass a national exam. Some pursue a Master’s degree, which takes an additional two years.

  • How to become a certified nutritionist?

    The steps to becoming a certified nutritionist are:

    • Complete a four-year bachelor’s degree in clinical nutrition or a master’s degree in human nutrition
    • Complete a minimum 900-hour internship
    • Obtain hands-on clinical experience
    • Pass the national board exam

  • How much do nutritionists make?

    According to, nutritionists in the United States have a median salary of $64,200. The salary range runs from $53,310 to $76,427. The salary a nutritionist earns depends on a number of factors, such as their education, license and certification status, years of experience in the field, and what state they work in, among others.

  • How to become an animal nutritionist?

    Animal nutritionists specialize in the dietary needs of different animal species. To become an animal nutritionist, individuals need to:

    • Earn a bachelor's degree
    • Possibly gain internship or apprenticeship experience
    • Obtain certification through the American College of Veterinary Nutrition (optional)
    • Obtain certification through the Academy of Veterinary Nutrition Technicians (optional)

  • Where do nutritionists work?

    Nutritionist can work for themselves or in various settings, such as hospitals, nursing homes, extended care facilities, community health centers, or spas and wellness centers. They can also work for educational institutions, government agencies or in the food service or pharmaceutical industries. Animal nutritionists can work in veterinary clinics or animal hospitals.

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