Nutritionists work with people to help them plan their dietary needs based on their specific health goals. Students enrolled in online nutrition certificate programs are typically taking courses to improve their expertise in a specific area, such as fitness and sports nutrition, family nutrition, or nutrition education, among others. Classes will vary based on the specific track you select, but knowledge of biochemistry, human development, physiology, nutrition therapy, and health promotion will be sharpened. These programs may be designed for those with a background in nutrition or for those looking to supplement another health-related degree.
Sports and Fitness Nutrition
If you are interested in pursuing a career as a nutritional advisor to athletes or fitness enthusiasts, an online nutrition certificate in sports and fitness nutrition could be a great option. Common courses may include meal plan analysis, sports nutrition, vitamin supplementation, weight management, and energy and nutrient needs. This type of program may benefit personal trainers, health care workers, or licensed nutritionists and dietitians looking to bolster their expertise.
In most cases, you should be able to complete this type of program in six to 12 months, assuming you remain enrolled on a full-time basis. Since most online classes run in an asynchronous format, students can work around their family schedules and job responsibilities to complete their courses. The interactive learning platform is usually accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Students can upload documents, review materials, communicate with peers and professors, and complete assignments all on their own time frame, as long as set deadlines are met. Chat, streaming video, and virtual meeting technology help students work on group projects and presentations as well.
Family Nutrition Certificate
Family nutrition is an area of study that focuses on how families can work together to develop healthy eating habits, reducing their risk of obesity and other health issues. Again, online nutrition certificate programs usually cater to current health professionals and nutritionists looking for specialization, but may be open to others with a general interest in the area as well. Classes typically include meal planning, children’s nutrition, human growth and development, and exercise behaviors for children.
Depending on the specific number of courses required for the certificate, most students are able to graduate in six months to a year. This, of course, will vary based on your level of enrollment and any breaks taken throughout the program. The virtual learning environment also helps students work around professional and family responsibilities or travel restrictions. Despite the lack of face-to-face instruction and peer interaction, students can still receive an engaging education with the enhancements chat, streaming video, and web conferencing technology provide.
Nutrition Education Certificate
For those interested in teaching nutrition, whether in public schools, with non-profit organizations, or at the college level, earning a nutrition certificate online is an excellent option for specialization. Students learn about nutritional therapy, wellness promotion, human development, and pedagogy. This type of curriculum is usually designed for current health care workers or nutritionists, but may be open to the general public, depending on the school’s specific requirements.
If you remain enrolled full time, you should be able to complete a certificate program in six months to a year. This can vary based on the number of courses in the curriculum, how many courses you take at once, and whether or not you take any breaks. The asynchronous format of most online programs means students are not limited by a set class time. Rather, they can log in to the virtual learning platform at any time and from any location to review materials, complete assignments, participate in discussion boards, and read instructor feedback around their own schedule. This is particularly useful for those already working in the field who want to further their education without leaving their job or reducing their hours.
What’s Next for Nutrition Certificate Holders?
Most students who attend these types of certificate programs are already health care workers or licensed nutritionists and dietitians. With this in mind, they may opt to stay with their current employer with the hope of taking on new responsibilities or improving their expertise in a particular area. Jobs may be available with hospitals, clinics, schools, colleges, or private practices. Please note, if you are not already licensed as a nutritionist, you will need to complete at least a bachelor’s program in the field before you can take the certification exam and practice as a nutritionist in your state.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) job prospects for nutritionists and dietitians are expected to remain strong, with 16% growth anticipated from 2014 to 2024. In May 2014, the reported mean annual salary was $57,440 for this occupation. However, this may not reflect actual job availability or pay for everyone. Wages and prospects can vary wildly, depending on factors like location, level of experience, education, and the specific employer.