Nutrition Schools and Certificate Programs

Many modern maladies can be linked to diet and exercise habits, and health care institutions, employers, and the government are beginning to wake up to the fact that the best way to control health care costs is to keep people healthy. The rise in diabetes, gout, heart disease, and hypertension can all be tied to poor nutrition. People who run large health care plans are more likely than ever to hire health coaches, nutritionists, and dietitians to help their members stay healthy. Nutrition schools and certificate programs have a variety of options for those looking to take advantage of employment opportunities.

The job that demands the most advanced degree in nutrition is that of registered dietitian. Dietitians hold either a bachelorís or a masterís degree in food science or a related field. Most states require dietitians to be licensed or registered by a state-approved licensing agency. These agencies require a level of education, work experience, and passing a certifying exam. Nutritionists and public health workers tend to have different levels of education, from an associateís degree to postgraduate degrees. Health coaches and health educators sometimes have taken a year-long certificate program or have attained a degree.

Nutrition schools and certificate programs have extremely varied curricula. Some programs are called dietetics while others go under the title food science. Many include general science classes in biology, biochemistry, and microbiology. Then there are more specific courses in nutrition like food chemistry and food microbiology. Then there might be courses in nutritional therapy, eating disorders, and public health. Certificate programs will be shorter and more focused. Courses in health coaching and physical fitness will be job-specific. Certificates can add skills to curriculum vitae as well as stand alone as educational competencies.

Many nutrition schools and certificate programs have moved some or all of their classes online. Courses are no cheaper, and in many cases one must pay a premium for the convenience of online classes, but they can make an education cheaper. Not having to commute to classes or live near campus can reduce total costs. Classes can be finished at any time of the day, making it possible to work, even work full-time. It is a good option for students with children. There are downsides to online education, most notably the reputation of an online degree. While many employers are coming around to the prevalence of such degrees and certificates, they still do not get the instant recognition that degrees from traditional schools receive.

Choosing nutrition schools and programs can come down to the kinds of job opportunities a program offers. Looking at accreditation and ranking is one way to tell how hirable graduates are. Rankings often show what percentage of graduates is employed in the industry within a year. Accreditation means that an accrediting agency has done this research for you. They interview graduates, employers, and teachers to see how well trained graduates are for professional success.

Another factor that sets some nutrition schools and certificate programs apart is opportunities offered for internships and practical experience. Internships are a great way to take the book learning gained in school and apply it in real life, as well as to network with potential employers and other professionals. Schools that offer students a chance to get out in the community and make contacts before they graduate will have the upper hand over those that do not.

Last Updated: 05/22/2014