If you want to help people with health issues, but aren’t sold on becoming a doctor, you should consider becoming a functional nutritionist. By studying holistic health, you could help hundreds of people with their ailments.
To find out more about what functional nutritionists do, why you should enroll in a program, and where the best degree programs are, keep reading. In this guide, we will answer all of your questions to help set you on the path of learning how to become the best nutritionist.
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What Is Functional Nutrition?
Functional nutrition is an evidence-based integrative medicine used to help people resolve various health complaints. This type of medicine, considered a branch of functional medicine, helps curate customized diets and nutritional plans for patients. The goal is to improve a person’s health.
The diet plans created by functional nutritionists begin with a process of functional lab tests, nutrition assessments, and the patient’s health history. This is also known as functional diagnostic nutrition (FDN). By using these science-based assessments, many common health concerns can be alleviated and even completely cured.
Some of the more common reasons people may visit a functional nutritionist include basic health care needs, trying to determine food allergies, and even for stress reduction. Using clinical nutrition, you can treat more severe conditions, such as chronic pain, and even prevent diseases.
Earning a degree in functional nutrition is a fantastic way to start a career in functional diagnostic nutrition or holistic health. While a functional nutrition degree will not make you a doctor, it will provide you with plenty of career opportunities.
With this degree, you will likely not need to pursue anything higher than a master of science.
Three Reasons You Should Earn a Functional Nutrition Degree
There are many reasons you may want to consider earning a functional nutrition degree. Whether simply for the career opportunities and pay, the possibility of high job satisfaction, or a combination of both, you are sure to enjoy the benefits of a functional nutrition degree.
There are a few different careers you can go into with a degree in functional nutrition. Some of the most popular careers include becoming a nutrition program consultant, a nutrition specialist, or a nutrition educator.
While all of the career opportunities you can go into have similar requirements, there is some flexibility between these positions. For example, if you want to work more on your own schedule and terms, you can be a self-employed consultant.
On the other hand, if you prefer a traditional job structure, there are plenty of opportunities to work as specialists or educators.
Job Market & Salary Opportunities
According to the United States Bureau of Labor statistics, the job outlook for dieticians and nutritionists is fantastic. In fact, this field is expected to grow eight percent by 2029, which is much faster than the average career field.
Combine the fantastic job outlook with the average salary of $61,270 per year, you are looking at a fantastic career possibility. If you have the right combination of experience and education, you can even join the top 10 percent earning over $87,000 per year.
Though working in holistic medicine and nutrition may not be appealing to everyone, many will find this career field to be extremely satisfying. Being able to help people by giving them the tools necessary to fulfill their nutrition needs is a fantastic way to find job satisfaction.
Though this is most often a full-time job, there are opportunities to work part-time, which may bring you the most fulfillment. But, if you enjoy the job and educating others about a healthy diet to relieve them of health ailments, you may very well find that you have no issues with working full-time.
The Best Functional Nutrition Programs
Before you can begin applying for jobs to become a functional nutritionist, you will first need to earn a degree or certificate of some sort. There are quite a few bachelor’s and master’s degree in nutrition programs out there. The following programs are our top picks, as they are some of the best available.
University of Western States
The University of Western States offers both a Master of Science in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine and a graduate certification course, both totally online. These programs offer flexible pacing, and both cost $524 per credit.
Through Saybrook University, you can earn a Master of Science in Integrative and Functional Nutrition. While enrolled in this completely online program, you can also choose to minor in either integrative wellness coaching or mind-body medicine.
Maryland University of Integrative Health
You can enroll in a Master of Science in Nutrition and Integrative Health through the Maryland University of Integrative Health. This program is offered in an online, on-campus, and hybrid format to best suit individual students’ needs. You can complete this program in six to 11 trimesters depending on the pace you set for yourself.
At Bastyr University, you can enroll in a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition program. This program is offered on-campus in Seattle, Washington, and takes the average full-time student around two years to complete. After completing this degree, you can easily enroll in higher degree programs and complete a master’s degree.
National University of Natural Medicine
Through the National University of Natural Medicine, you can enroll in a unique on-campus Master of Science in Nutrition program. This program takes a “kitchen first” approach, focusing on hands-on learning and interaction with foods to help students learn about nutritional needs.
American Fitness Professionals Association
While not a degree, the American Fitness Professionals Association offers a nutrition and wellness consultant certificate. After verifying the requirements for your dream job, you may find that this program is a suitable option for you at a much lower cost than a college degree.
Nutritional Therapy Association
The Nutritional Therapy Association offers an online program for you to earn a nutritional therapy practitioner certificate. This program is a fantastic option for anyone hoping to begin a career in holistic or nutritional therapy and only takes around 10 months to complete.
Should You Earn a Functional Nutrition Degree?
Earning a functional nutrition degree is not the right move for everyone, but if you are considering a career in the field, it is definitely the way to go. Assuming you want to help heal people via their nutrition and diet, are excited about a stable job outlook and good pay, and feel as if this would be a fulfilling job for you, we think this degree would be a great match.
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