Whether you are just pondering or ready to make a career switch toward becoming a holistic nutrition professional, one major step will be to determine which education option is right for you.
There are several top holistic nutrition programs; it can feel challenging to determine which one is worth the investment of your time, money, and energy. That is one reason why it’s important to look at each program with the same type of criteria, so you can compare programs more efficiently. When trying to choose a holistic nutrition program, consider these key factors:
When comparing educational options, timeframes are important. Some programs have specific schedules that include firm beginning and end dates. For example, a class may start in September and end in May, which means that if you are reviewing options in October, it may be nearly a year before you can start with the next class.
Many people prefer programs that have a “learn at your own pace” timeframe, since that means you can start at any time and complete the program on your schedule. This can be especially compelling if you have other responsibilities, such as work and family obligations.
Another factor, especially for those who want to pursue distance learning, is the type of study and test materials that will be required. Some people do well with printed-only materials that accompany in-class discussions and tests taken at a college or another site.
For those who want a more flexible approach, they would likely do well with materials and testing offered online. This allows for studying and testing to be done anywhere, at any time, so you don’t miss sessions simply because of travel or a work project.
This means that an outside agency has evaluated a program to verify its adherence to the criteria needed for nutrition professionals to operate in ways that are professional and informed.
Not all holistic nutrition programs are accredited, but choosing one that has received approval can open many more opportunities for you. Whether your career will take you into independent counseling or working in a healthcare setting, an accredited certification will give you the credentials you need to prove that your education was of the highest level.
Programs range in terms of pricing, and while it’s true that you shouldn’t automatically pick the cheapest option, you should consider affordability when making your selection. Choosing a program that fits within your budget means you will spend less time getting “caught up” financially when you begin your professional life.
Another advantage is to choose a program that offers payment plans and financing that helps you cover the costs of your education without having to pay tuition fees all at once. Paying through a certification program provider, rather than getting a loan from a bank, may also involve lower interest fees and more flexible repayment options.
As a term, “holistic nutrition” can encompass a wide range of topics, including dietary theories, disease prevention, nutrient density, plant-based nutrition—even GMOs and genetics. No matter which school or program you choose, most likely you will learn some solid information about nutrition and ways to apply that knowledge to your future profession.
But schools show differences regarding all program elements. For example, some put a strong emphasis on building your business skills so that you can become an independent consultant, if that’s the path you choose. As a consultant, you would need skills like marketing, goal setting, client interviewing, and communication strategies.
Opportunities for Specialization and Higher-Level Study
Good programs will give you that bedrock knowledge that you can use to create meaningful and goal-oriented plans for your clients. But a top program should also give you the opportunity to use that as a launching point if you choose.
For instance, you may be deeply interested in helping clients with weight loss and weight management, or you might be gravitating toward helping seniors. The ability to learn more about your field in those specific areas is incredibly rewarding, and a good program should give you those options.
In addition to specialization, consider whether a program gives you an opportunity to combine certifications so that you can advance more quickly in the profession.
Taking the time to compare programs side by side with criteria like affordability, time-to-completion timeframes, program scope, accreditation, and specialization will allow you to get a clearer idea of what might be most effective for you, your finances, and your schedule. That way, you will choose what feels right for you, and establish a solid foundation for your holistic nutrition career.