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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
The steps to becoming a certified nutritionist are:
According to Salary.com, 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.
Animal nutritionists specialize in the dietary needs of different animal species. To become an animal nutritionist, individuals need to:
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.