If you're interested in becoming a nutritionist, you may have heard people using the term nutrition consultant. This title is given to anyone who passes the exams given by the American Academy of Nutrition Consultants, and it is simply a credential that helps build a relationship with clients when working as a private nutritionist. It doesn't qualify you to work in hospitals, schools or other food service settings, and it doesn't require any postsecondary education.
The Many Nutritionist Titles
There is a big difference between a certified nutrition consultant, or CNC, and a certified nutrition specialist, or CNS, according to The Chicago Tribune. A CNC credential requires only a high school diploma or GED and a membership in the AANC, while becoming a CNS requires a master's degree and a state license. The earning opportunities for a CNC are also much different than those of a CNS, and in general, a CNC is limited to private consulting or health coaching work. Many colleges offer two-year programs for nutrition consultants, although this education isn't required to take the AANC exams. While becoming certified as a consultant may not qualify you to work in food service settings, it isn't a bad idea to get this credential on top of other qualifications.
If you plan to have a private consulting practice as a nutritionist, a CNC credential can be an added title for your office wall, and clients will know that you have passed a series of comprehensive exams to get it. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that dietitians and nutritionists have excellent job opportunities for the foreseeable future as the general public is becoming more educated about the effects of diet on age-related illness. A registered dietitian has at least a bachelor's degree, and many states require licensing before a dietitian can start working. Without a bachelor's degree, finding work is a lot harder, and a two-year nutrition consultant program doesn't provide the same science background that a four-year degree does.
Growth in the Nutrition Industry
You will be able to work with clients if you can promote your consultant business, but you won't be able to advertise your services as a dietitian without a four-year degree. The field of nutrition is expanding as demand for nutritionists with knowledge of how diet prevents illness increases, and there are many types of jobs available in this industry. The title of nutrition consultant requires the least amount of education out of the available jobs, while a nutrition specialist needs the most education.
You can also complete the appropriate training to become a certified nutritionist, certified health coach, holistic nutritionist, clinical nutritionist or registered dietitian. A certified nutritionist is another title that doesn't require postsecondary education, and to become a health coach, you only need one year of training. When taking the AANC exams, you have up to five years to finish 11 open-book tests, and each test costs $400 in addition to the cost of textbooks and membership fees.
Related Resource: Health Care Consultant
The field of nutrition appeals to a certain type of person, and helping people make good dietary decisions is certainly a noble calling. Choosing a career path requires knowledge of the opportunities you'll have after your training, and you should know that a CNC license gives you the fewest opportunities out of all the available nutritionist titles. However, together with other credentials, nutrition consultant can be a good title to add to your name.