Fitness and nutrition consultants provide expertise on wellness, diet and physical activity. Their clientele ranges from healthy, active individuals to hospital patients with health issues. These professionals can choose to develop specialties in a number of disciplines within their field, such as pediatric nutrition, geriatric fitness or sports nutrition. Respective degree programs, licensing and professional associations support each of these disciplines.
Fitness and nutrition consultants begin with assessment of a client or patient’s current wellness. An individual consultation then includes relating the findings of that assessment to the diet and exercise factors likely contributing to strengths, deficiencies or illnesses. Some consultants work on a larger scale, developing nutrition and activity programs for the general population of institutions such as colleges, jails or medical facilities. At either scale, the primary goal is to optimize the health of a group or individual through balanced diet and exercise.
Most employers and licensing organizations require a minimum education of an accredited bachelor’s degree in dietetics or a similar major. In some states, a master’s degree is required for licensing as a nutritionist. Likewise, certain credentials require an advanced degree as well. For example, a relevant master’s degree is a prerequisite for the Certified Nutrition Specialist certification issued by the Certification Board for Nutrition Specialists.
Nearly all states require registration and licensing to work as a fitness and nutrition consultant. Billing those services to health insurance providers also requires licensing and certification. The Commission on Dietetic Registration oversees testing and certification of nutrition expertise, and maintains listings of state and national requirements for fitness and nutrition specialists.
Earnings information reported by the BLS in 2010 found a median national salary of $53,250 for nutritionists and dieticians. The top 10 percent of practicing professionals earned salaries of more than $75,000.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects moderate job growth for dietitians and nutritionists through 2020. Awareness of and emphasis on wellness, nutrition and fitness have grown in recent decades. Demand for fitness and nutrition consulting is projected to remain strong.
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Newsletter
- National Association of Nutrition Professionals: Newsletter
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
- Career paths: Barbara Lewin, Licensed Dietician and Sports Nutritionist
- Career paths: James Harris, NCAA football Sports Nutritionist
- What Does a Sports Nutritionist Do?
Chuck Dye is a professional copywriter and award-winning journalist. His experience includes reporting and copy editing, earning awards from the Football Writers Association of America and Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association. Dye holds a master's degree in communications and a bachelor's degree in journalism, both from the University of Oregon.