A nutrition educator is a health professional who educates people on proper nutrition and diet. If you're interested in helping others lead healthy lives, this could be an ideal role for you. Learning more about the requirements to become a nutrition educator can help you decide if you want to pursue this career. In this article, we explain what nutrition educators do, how to become one and what kind of skills they typically have.
Related: Learn About Being a Nutritionist
What is a nutrition educator?
A nutrition educator is a health care professional who typically educates clients on good health, diet and nutrition practices. They create programs, regimens or methods for their clients to follow to assist with their health and wellness. These professionals can help individual clients or provide their services to communities.
Related: What Is a Dietitian?
What does a nutrition educator do?
A nutrition educator may work within private companies, schools, hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities and home health facilities to provide nutrition and health guidance. Nutrition educators research, formulate and implement nutrition services and programs for their clients. Responsibilities and duties a nutrition educator might have include:
- Planning health, diet and nutritional plans
- Evaluating clients' current diet and health
- Conducting research on current health and nutrition plans
- Reviewing existing nutrition policies
- Holding trainings and educations services for aspiring nutrition educators
- Publicly promoting health and nutrition
- Giving presentations on nutrition or diet
- Analyzing existing general nutrition educational programs
- Maintaining public health through educational programs
- Acting as an expert in nutrition
How to become a nutrition educator
You can follow these steps to become a nutrition educator:
1. Complete your education
You need at least a bachelor's degree in nutrition, nutrition science or a related field to become a nutrition educator. If you want to teach in a school setting, you need a master's degree. Some employers, including those in research-based fields, may require you to have a doctorate. When completing your education, you can expect to take courses in:
- Public health
- Anatomy and physiology
- Food chemistry
- Food systems
Many programs also include internships, where you learn more about nutrition education in a professional setting. You can work with your academic adviser to learn more about available internships.
2. Determine your specialty
Nutrition educators often work with a specific group of people to provide detailed guidance. While you're completing your education, you could consider specializing in one of the following areas:
- People with specific dietary restrictions, like diabetics
- Community outreach
You can typically take courses related to your specialization, and it may be helpful to find an internship or entry-level job in the area. For example, if you want to work with your community, you could find a job at a public health center.
3. Obtain a certification
If you want to teach at a school, you need to earn a teaching certification. The requirements to earn this certification vary by state, but you usually need to earn at least a bachelor's degree, complete a teaching program and get student teaching experience before applying. You can check your state's requirements on the education board's website.
Earning an additional nutrition certification can show your dedication to the field and help you be a more competitive candidate. Here are two certifications you could consider:
- Certified Nutrition & Wellness Educator: The American Association of Family & Consumer Sciences offers this certification. To earn it, you need at least a bachelor's degree and must pass an exam.
- Certified Health Education Specialist: The National Commission for Health Education Credentialing offers this certification. You need to submit your academic transcript and pass an exam to earn the CHES.
Please note that none of the organizations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
4. Maintain certifications
Most nutrition and education certifications require ongoing education to keep them current. Completing education hours can help you remain up to date on the most current nutrition and education advancements. The number of hours you need to complete varies based on the certification. Common ways to complete your continuing education include seminars, conferences and online courses.
Nutrition educator skills
Nutrition educators usually need to develop the following skills:
Health promotion and maintenance: A large part of a nutrition educator's job is helping others stay healthy by teaching them about the best diets for their lifestyles. Health promotion and maintenance can involve making the public aware of the importance of good nutrition habits.
Presentation: This skill helps nutrition educators teach others, especially in a classroom or community setting. Good presentation skills help educators engage their clients and show them how to take care of themselves.
Communication: Verbal communication helps these professionals speak to clients about their nutrition and wellness. Nutrition educators also need good written communication skills to write dietary guidelines for clients.
Training and instruction: Nutrition and wellness are ongoing practices, so nutrition educators need to train clients on how to maintain their well-being over time.
Active listening: Nutrition educators should be able to actively listen to their clients so they can learn about their concerns and goals. This can mean carefully listening to clients and also paying attention to their body language when they speak.
Research: It's helpful for nutrition educators to research best practices in nutrition and health for each client. Doing so can help them give the best guidance.
Nutrition educator salary and job outlook
There's no specific salary information for nutrition educators. Here are some related salaries to consider:
Salaries for nutrition educators can vary based on specialization, education, experience, employer, certifications and geographic location.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for dietitians and nutritionists is expected to grow by 11% from 2020 to 2030, which is much faster than average.