Is a Holistic Nutrition Degree Right for You?

Holistic nutrition explores how to achieve optimum health and nutrition through eating the right foods, supplements, and herbs. Online bachelors degrees in holistic nutrition educate students on the ins and outs of carbohydrates, fats and protein, nutrients, and dieting so that they can help others detoxify their bodies, reduce stress, and ultimately lead healthier lives — emotionally, spiritually, and physically.

New awareness about the importance of diet and lifestyle in the prevention of disease has inspired the convergence of traditional wellness strategies and holistic nutrition. The field is a growing one, thanks to increased interest in the role of food in promoting health and wellness.

Advice for Earning Your Holistic Nutrition Degree Online

If you are considering an online bachelor’s degree in holistic nutrition, the National Association of Nutrition Professionals (NANP) is a good place to start your search. A leading professional organization for holistic nutritionists, the association conducts an in-depth review specifically of holistic nutrition and natural chef educational programs.

The schools that meet its educational standards are “approved” and listed on its website. The organization also oversees the Holistic Nutrition Credentialing Board’s Examination, an optional professional certification for those in the field. Students attending NANP-approved programs would be eligible to sit for this exam. Also, because holistic nutrition programs often include a number of laboratory sciences classes, many of the best online programs will offer hybrid formats that allow you to complete lab requirements at a nearby campus.

Required Courses

Online Holistic Nutrition degree programs start with core courses in life sciences like biology, anatomy, and physiology, as well as laboratory sciences like organic chemistry. Major courses include classes in nutrition concepts, food science, herbs, and counseling and practice. Required courses may include the following:

  • Vegetarian Nutrition
  • Introduction to Herbal Sciences
  • Introduction to Traditional Chinese Herbs
  • Nutritional Counseling
  • Community Nutrition

Common Career Paths

Some potential careers for those with a bachelor’s degree in Holistic Nutrition include:

Community Dietitian

  • Expected Growth: 20%
  • Average Annual Salary: $54,405

A community dietitian works with the public, informing them about topics related to food and nutrition. They might work with specific communities, such as pregnant women. Settings where you might find community dietitians include government and non-profit agencies and public health clinics. Most dietitians and nutritionists have earned a bachelor’s degree in nutrition or a related area, so graduates of holistic nutrition bachelor’s degree programs would be eligible for this line of work. On top of their degree, however, they might also need to be certified or licensed in the state where they work.

Requirements for certification and licensure vary from state-to-state, though typically include a bachelor’s degree in nutrition or a related field, supervised work experience, and passage of an exam. The above salary and employment growth figures were gathered from the BLS, and represent median incomes. Actual salaries can vary greatly based on your experience, size and type of employer, education level, certifications, and other factors.

Clinical Dietitian

  • Expected Growth: 20%
  • Average Annual Salary: $54,405

Clinical dietitians are employed by hospitals, long-term care facilities, and other healthcare institutions. They work with patients or residents providing medical nutrition therapy. This might include creating nutritional programs for individuals or groups based on their needs. Most nutritionists who enter the field end up in these types of settings; half of all dietitians and nutritionists worked in hospitals, nursing care facilities, outpatient care centers, or physicians’ offices in 2010.

As with community dietitians, clinical dietitians typically need a bachelor’s degree to be eligible to work in the profession. They might also need to be licensed or certified, depending on the state, because of their direct involvement in patient care. Figures above were provided by the BLS.

Management Dietitian

  • Expected Growth: 20%
  • Average Annual Salary: $54,405

Management dietitians can be found in a number of different food service settings, from cafeterias to food corporations to hospitals. They are typically tasked with buying food, planning meal programs, and overseeing kitchen staff or other dietitians. Food settings that take a holistic approach to their practice would be a natural fit for holistic nutritionists.

Applicants with a bachelor’s degree in food and nutrition or a related field would generally be eligible for entry-level positions, though more upper-management level positions may require prior experience or a more advanced degree. These nutritionists may also need to be certified or licensed, depending on their state’s regulations. Figures above were provided by the BLS.

Health Educator

  • Expected Growth: 37%
  • Average Annual Salary: $54,405

Health educators inform the public and communities about relevant health concerns, including diet and nutrition, exercise, lifestyle, and healthy living in general. Health educators can be found in a range of professional settings, from health care facilities to nonprofits to private businesses. A bachelor’s degree is required to work in this field and many positions will also require the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) credential. Figures above were provided by the BLS.

Fitness Trainers and Instructors

  • Expected Growth: 7%
  • Average Annual Salary: $49,360

Fitness trainers and instructors prescribe exercise and diet plans to help clients achieve their weight and health goals. In some cases, they may lead group fitness workouts at gyms and fitness clubs, but many professionals work independently and interact with clients on a one-on-one basis.

A bachelor’s degree is not required to be a fitness trainer, however, a bachelor’s degree in holistic nutrition, along with the necessary certifications to be a personal fitness trainer, you will be able to provide your clients with nutritional counseling as well as fitness counseling. Figures above were provided by the BLS.

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