Since the 1980s, the United States has undergone an increasing move towards developing personal health and fitness.
While early iterations seemed little more than a fad, taking supplements, tracking calories, or having a gym membership is no longer just within the purview of fitness fanatics.
While dietary apps, health and fitness blogs, and other resources make managing your personal health simpler, most people still rely on the expert opinion of nutritionists for advice on building a healthy and sustainable lifestyle.
Working in this field can be extremely rewarding, but earning your Nutritional Studies degree presents many challenges, so consider these few key points to help you along the way.
Know the Basics
At its core, Nutritional Studies is a scientific discipline. If you’re going to succeed in your educational program, it’s vital to keep this fact in mind when working with material. Add courses that will give you a better understanding of human biology and grasp the principles of the scientific method. Nutritional science is all about producing results, and arriving at treatment methods ultimately rests in a firm understanding of how treatment methods are uncovered through methodical trial and error. Additionally, having a base in the hard sciences related to your discipline will also open up the opportunity to provide nutritional counseling in a clinical setting, since earning a Registered Dietitian title requires a scientific foundation to your studies.
Networking and Practical Learning
While your coursework will form the bulk of your theoretical understanding, practical skills can’t be taught solely through lecture. Given Nutritional Studies’ connection to public service, it’s important that you begin both building your ability to work directly with patients and forging professional connections long before you graduate. Working a relevant internship parallel to your degree program can dramatically shorten the time you spend earning the field hours needed for credentials later on.
Being recognized by various governing boards is essential for succeeding as a nutritionist, since many regions limit to what degree you can offer nutritional advice based on your credentials. Networking with professors will give you access to these vital internship opportunities and also serve to both improve your classroom performance and bolster your resume.
A layman’s understanding generally associates Nutritional Studies with diet and its relation to weight loss. While it’s an important aspect, the scope of what a nutritionist can offer extends well beyond this. Rather than focusing on one aspect of your degree, you should fully explore every industry Nutritional Studies plays a role, no matter how niche.
For example, nutrition and skin care is a growing industry not just for companies like NuSkin, but for nutritionists as well. By recognizing and understanding the connection between your field of study and these industries, you’ll not only have a deeper understanding of how your degree can be practically applied throughout the course of your study, but also have a wider range of career options to consider after graduation.
Understand Your Career Options
Speaking of career options, having a clearer picture of your employment future can help you focus your academic energy in the right direction. With its value to both commercial enterprises and public services, Nutritional Studies students have a wide range of careers to choose from. Depending on additional credentials and overall experience, this fairly broad base can be opened up even further later in your career.
Three of the most common careers chosen by Nutritional Studies students immediately after graduation are dietician, food services manager, and food scientist. This “big three,” so to speak, fall roughly in the same salary range, with new-hires typically starting on the low end at $50,000 while on the high end earning $80,000. Fortunately all three of these positions are largely dominated by students from public colleges, so working towards any of the three can give you an early opportunity at securing employment after graduation.
Practice What You Preach
Nutritional Studies is unique among degree programs in that the information you learn can be immediately beneficial in your own life. Applying the things you learn on the way towards your degree is not only useful for your own personal health and fitness journey, but can also help to reinforce the principles of sound nutrition needed to succeed in the classroom. Forging a personal connection with course material is essential for fostering the passion needed to not only graduate, but to effectively turn your education into a viable career. Likewise, having personal experience with the advice you’ll later be administering to the public gives you significantly more credibility.
Beyond the Classroom
While your degree is a major component of finding a career in nutrition, it’s only one piece of the puzzle. The habits and attitudes you develop while pursuing that degree are of equal importance. Integrating aspects of Nutritional Studies in your own life, whether through personal health practices or research into subjects outside of the classroom, can build the foundation needed to ace your Nutritional Studies degree.