Editor's Note: This post was originally published August 2016 and has recently been updated and revised for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
Pursuing a nutrition certification for personal enrichment is hugely valuable, and can help you integrate healthier eating into your fitness and wellness mix. But it's also an opportunity to expand your career in new ways, giving you many options when it comes to providing nutritional counseling.
When you earn a certification — credentials that highlight your education and knowledge — you'll be in a strong position to choose from a range of jobs. Here are just a few that you might consider:
1. Weight Management Consultant
Especially if you pursue a certification directly related to weight management as a specialization, you would be able to work in settings where that's the focus of service. For example, wellness spas, weight management programs, hospitals, and some larger gym franchises employ these type of consultants for clients who have weight loss as a primary focus. There are also some facilities that help those with eating disorders, and a weight management consultant would work with those clients on a healthier emotional and physical approach to food.
2. Sports Nutritionist
With a certification on sports-related topics, you can work in a variety of settings, including consulting a professional or semi-pro team, or seeing clients at a gym or fitness center. Sports nutritionists are also in high-demand at some rehabilitation centers, so that physical therapy and occupational therapy can be supported by proper nutritional techniques. Some sports nutritionists also work as independent consultants and offer their services to individual pro and amateur athletes, high school athletes and weekend warriors who want to optimize their performance.
3. Spa Consultant
Although some people envision only massages and relaxation when hearing the word "spa," there's much more to these retreats. Increasingly, spa and fitness centers are offering clients an array of services, including nutritional counseling. With a nutritionist certification, you can become an integral part of any spa environment, taking on tasks that include consulting spa clients, providing meal planning advice, assisting with food ordering, and developing workshops.
4. Corporate Nutritional Consultant
Companies are realizing that healthy employees are more productive, efficient, and collaborative. That's led to big steps forward in implementing employee health and wellness plans. At larger companies, they're going one step further by employing nutritional consultants on a contract or full-time basis for duties like consulting with employees individually, leading workshops on better health strategies, developing meal options for employee cafeterias, and spearheading healthy food initiatives.
5. Healthy Eating Instructor
The interest in better, more health-giving foods has led to a boom in classes on the topic. Every co-op and community center is providing classes on everything from grain-free eating to cooking skills for kids. Certified nutrition consultants have the opportunity to work independently while still making a solid living by teaching at numerous locations, including schools, kitchenware stores that offer classes, farmers markets, and even at house parties for private clients.
Some nutrition consultants choose to combine some of these jobs, leading to a wider array of tasks. For example, you might have a few corporate clients that ask for workshops, but you work full-time at a spa or fitness center.
A certification isn't just a way to learn about nutrition topics — it's a key that can unlock many more professional doors that you might realize.