Registered Holistic Nutritionist: Salary, Job Duties and Requirements

As of 2010, the field of holistic nutrition wasn't officially recognized by any state or federal licensing body. However, society's growing awareness that diet can drastically impact health could change this. A number of schools already have developed programs that specialize in holistic nutrition, as more patients seek it as an adjunct or alternative to traditional health care.

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Holistic Nutritionists' Job Description

Nutritionists and dietitians plan food and nutrition programs, oversee the preparation and serving of meals, and educate patients about eating or avoiding foods that can affect their health. They sometimes are employed in hospitals, schools or research facilities. Many dietitians specialize as consultants, either under contract or in private practice. Holistic nutritionists generally fall into this category.

Holistic medicine approaches medical care from a slightly different angle than traditional Western medicine. Holistic practitioners consider all aspects of a patient's life when developing plans to better his or her overall health or treat a specific condition. Likewise, holistic nutritionists consider a patient's emotional and physical health, as well as his or her energy level and environment, to create a balanced diet containing vitamins, minerals, proteins and other nutrients.

Educational Requirements

The growing popularity of holistic nutrition has led to the creation of several master's degree programs in the field. In particular, these programs might benefit practicing dietitians who are seeking to expand their knowledge base and potentially work in alternative medicine. Holistic nutrition students focus on the basic science of nutrition, as well as links among lifestyle, diet and overall health. Classes in a program like this might include:

  • Medical nutrition therapy
  • Complementary medicine in other cultures
  • Essential nutrients and function
  • Diet and lifestyle analysis
  • Food production systems
  • Diets, fads and trends
  • Food, politics and the environment

Licensure and Certification Information

There are no licensure requirements specific to holistic nutritionists. However, many areas have established standards for dietitians and nutritionists in general. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most states required licensure in 2010. Some states required just certification or registration, and very few had no regulations at all (www.bls.gov).

Additionally, the National Association of Nutrition Professionals operates the Holistic Nutrition Credentialing Board (HNCB), which offers voluntary certification. Graduates of programs in holistic nutrition who have gained at least 500 hours of professional experience can sit for the HNCB examination. The HNCB also maintains continuing education requirements for certification renewal.

Career Data and Salary Information

The BLS projected faster than average growth of 20% for dietitians and nutritionists in general from 2010-2020, with most of the increase attributed to greater awareness of the impact of improved dietary practices. In 2012, the median annual salary for dietitians and nutritionists was $55,240.

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