How to Become a Sports Nutritionist

If you have a passion for the impact of dietary intake on athletic performance, you will be interested in knowing how to become a sports nutritionist. This job has both great average pay and a strong ongoing employment outlook. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), here is the essential information on this exciting occupation:

  • Median salary (2018): $60,370
  • Job growth (2018-2028): 11 percent
  • Educational degree & area: Bachelor’s – sports nutrition or nutrition
  • Certification & licensing: You have the option to get certified to better demonstrate your expertise. While not required by all states, you typically need to get a license.
  • Core tasks: You create dietary programs and strategies, track individual progress, and record physical measurements.

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What Does A Sports Nutritionist Do? 

Nutritionists who are specialists at helping athletes boost performance and injury recovery with nutrition are specifically called sports nutritionists. These professionals may work for sports teams or sports-focused healthcare clinics. 

While this profession may find you developing group meal plans for an entire sports team, you generally will work with individual players – since everyone’s body is different. The first step in interacting with athletes is to evaluate their specific situation. Some athletes will need to drop some weight or restore their power following injury, while others will focus on adding muscle. Still, others may have chronic conditions they want to address that could impact their performance, such as lactose intolerance or celiac disease. 

Once you have completed your assessment, you will seek to improve their physical fitness, energy, and health through a custom nutritional plan. You may also instruct athletes on the best way to eat on game day and what they should consume following a workout. 

Becoming A Certified Sports Nutritionist 

When you want to know how to become a sports nutritionist, the first step is to go to school. While states differ on their legal requirements (in the form of mandatory licensing and/or certification), education will establish your knowledge and qualify you for jobs. Individuals who have bachelor’s degrees in dietetics, exercise science, food science, or kinesiology will prepare themselves well for these positions and those who major specifically in sports nutrition or nutrition. You will see more job opportunities open up if you extend your education to a postgraduate or graduate degree. 

A critical piece of understanding of becoming a sports nutritionist is selecting the college or university you attend. The last thing you want to do is graduate with a degree that will not be respected in the industry. Choose an accredited program by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) or another prominent accreditation agency. Plus, you want to verify with the school that you will be properly prepared for certification.

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Sports Nutritionist Certification

As indicated above, you do not necessarily have to get licensed or certified, depending on the state where you practice. The state where you want to work may require that you have a license, certification, or both from the state’s board of nutrition. Even so, you can establish your expertise by obtaining credentials.

If you are careful about your selection of an academic program, you will be able to become a certified specialist in sports dietetics (CSSD) once you graduate and complete the certification process. If your state requires a license, you will also need to apply for one. You can also better demonstrate your capabilities by getting certified through the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) or a similar national agency. 

Network, Network, Network. 

If you want to know how to become a sports nutritionist, understand that it is not just about degrees, licensure, and certification. Succeeding in the sports industry is often based largely on who you know. At Jobs In Sports, we offer a network to help you win your career – with thousands of members in the field. Join our network for free today!