It's no secret that what you put into your body affects how you feel. If you're dedicated to helping others prevent, treat and overcome illnesses and ailments through food and nutrition, a career as a nutritional therapist may be for you. In order to become a nutritional therapist, you must undergo the proper training and obtain regional, national or trade certification in order to practice.
Nutritional therapists believe that with a proper diet the body can heal itself, a position largely supported by modern medicine. Nutritional therapy works to correct deficits in vitamins, nutrients and minerals while maintaining a healthy balance to ensure optimal health in patients. This knowledge isn’t simply absorbed or quickly learned on one’s own; to become a nutritional therapist, prospective students must apply to an institution of higher learning.
Colleges and universities offer certificate and diploma programs in the fields of nutrition and dietetics. Nutritional therapist training programs range in duration from one to four years, with the option of pursuing additional education up to and including four additional years in a post-graduate nutritional therapist education program. The amount of education required to practice varies based on location.
Many nutritionists opt to engage pursue an internship while training to become a nutritional therapist. Internships, also called clinicals or clinical hours, offer students a real-life, hands-on experience in the field under the guidance of a licensed or practicing clinician. Some nutritional therapist programs require students to fulfill a certain number of clinical hours. In programs where clinicals are not required, students wishing to get a better grasp of the material may wish to perform them on a voluntary basis.
Some regions require certification in order to practice as a nutritionist or nutritional therapist. In areas that require licensure or certification, students must pass an exam and be recognized by a governing body before being able to practice. Other locations have no requirements on certification. Contact your local government or college offering nutritional therapy courses to find the details regarding education and licensure standards in your location.
After obtaining education and recognition in the field, the next step required to become a nutritional therapist is finding a job within the field of nutrition or dietetics. These jobs exist in hospitals, nursing homes, schools and public health agencies. Private corporations dealing with food or public service may also hire nutritional therapists in order to ensure that their product or service meets nutritional standards and requirements set forth by governing agencies.