In Arkansas, nutritionists are non-licensed individuals. The regulations and licensing process for the practice of dietetics to include only licensed dietitians is clearly outlined by the Dietetics Practice Act of the Arkansas Dietetics Licensing Board (ADLB). In this article, you will find out how to become a nutritionist in Arkansas
Degree and Certification Requirements in Arkansas
Many professionals in the nutrition care field undergo post-secondary education, a standard in this work industry, despite there being no licensure or certification requirements for this profession in the state of Arkansas.
In other states, post-secondary education is in many cases a requirement for nutritionist licensing, whether it be a bachelor’s degree or a doctoral degree. Many topics such as dietetics, food and nutrition, public health nutrition and community nutrition are covered in nutrition-related degrees, both online and in Arkansas state. Other important parts of these degree programs often include physiology, biochemistry, nutrition science and anatomy/physiology.
It is possible to take additional didactic coursework to increase your nutrition and dietetics education level for those who have completed a bachelor’s degree. On the other hand, those completing a master’s or doctoral degree may benefit more from aiming towards nutrition-related professional certifications, such as the following:
- Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS) certification, Board for Certification of Nutrition Specialists
- Certified Nutrition Specialist Scholar (CNS- Scholar) certification, Board for Certification of Nutrition Specialists
Nutritionist Career Examples and Job Descriptions in Arkansas
There are a number of establishments offering nutritionist career opportunities. These establishments include but are not limited to nursing homes, health clubs, assisted living facilities, school districts, governmental agencies and hospitals.
Here is a list showing some of the businesses and organizations where nutritionists can likely find a job opening in Arkansas:
- Arkansas Department of Health
- North Arkansas Regional Medical Center
- Arkansas School for the Blind
- Arkansas Children’s Hospital
- Conway Regional Health System
- Arkansas Heart Hospital
With so many job openings for professionals in this industry, nutritionists are in high demand in order to improve the overall health across the state of Arkansas. Two examples of healthcare networks with several locations across the state are HealthSouth and Baptist Health. There are hospitals in Little Rock, Arkadelphia and many other communities belonging to Baptist Health.
Fitness facilities offering nutrition counseling for club members as part of their fitness program also open many opportunities for nutritionists in the state. Preventing obesity, breastfeeding, increasing vegetable and fruit consumption and lowering the amount of sugar consumed by most people are all areas of focus for the Arkansas Department of Health. The department offers education, assistance and resources, all of which encourage healthier eating among Arkansans. The following categories offer many career opportunities for nutrition specialists:
- Weight Management
- Diet and Nutrition
- Eating Disorders
- Wellness Counseling
Nutritionist Degrees and Education in Arkansas
Nutritionists study about food and its nutrients as well as how the human body processes, uses, and depends on various nutrients so that they are able to help others make healthier life decisions. Bachelor’s degrees are quite common for nutritionists. Such professionals often take a variety of classes such as biology, chemistry and physiology. Additionally, individuals working in this profession often take classes that cover the preparation of food, safely storing and preparing food, as well as the different properties and nutrients found in food that affect our health as humans (either positively or negatively).
Nutritionist Salary and Job Opportunities Arkansas
As of May 2013, the mean annual salary for nutritionists in the state of Arkansas was between $33,160 and $49,430. At that time, the national average for nutritionists was $56,300, and even higher, the top 10 percent of professionals in this domain were earning more than $78,720.
Despite the long-term growth projection for nutritionists in Arkansas being lower than the national average of 21%, many positions for professionals in this field are created every year with health constantly becoming a bigger problem.
In May 2013, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics report, the national average salary for dietitians and nutritionists was $55,240. As for the median salary, that was $47,920, according to the BLS information for the state of Arkansas. The upper range of salaries, on the other hand, were significantly higher than the national average median at $58,380 for the 75th percentile. For the 90 percentile, the median salary was $69,900. Depending on the education, experience and location of a nutritionist, their salary will vary.
Organizations and Professional Associations for Nutritionists in Arkansas
Memberships and participation in the following state and professional associations can provide professional competence for nutritionists in Arkansas:
- Arkansas Academy of Nutrition and Sciences
- Arkansas School Nutrition Association
- Arkansas Association of Nutrition and Foodservice Professionals
It is vital for nutritionists to stay informed about new strategies and developments regarding nutrition. Continuing education is often needed for professionals in this industry considering the biggest part of the job of these experts is to provide accurate recommendations to clients on how they can improve their health and make better choices. Excellent resources for dietitians and nutritionists to find information and network with others in their field of work can be found in the Arkansas Chapter of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association).
Overseeing and administering different programs that directly affect students’ nutrition options in public schools is one of the biggest jobs of nutritionists working for the Arkansas Department of Education. The National School Lunch Program, the Seamless Summer Program, the School Breakfast Program and Fresh Fruits and Vegetable Grants are only a few examples of the programs managed by these nutritionists. These many programs push students to choose healthy food options over unhealthy ones. You can find more information and resources from Child Nutrition Services. That’s not all the steps on how to become a nutritionist in Arkansas!
Becoming a Health Coach in Arkansas
Whether it be for children or adults, reward systems are quite efficient when it comes to motivating people. Behaving is something that many children are willing to do in order to receive a piece of candy, while adults are willing to put in an effort to eat healthy for a while in order to reward themself with a cheat meal later in the week. This reward principle is used by the state of Arkansas to its advantage by creating a reward system to encourage employees to consider healthy lifestyles.
Employees are rewarded for many different health choices including nutritious diet and exercise. They are rewarded by a program created by the Arkansas Department of Health. This program is known as the Arkansas Healthy EMployee Lifestyle Program (AHELP). This complex web-based program offers online health assessments for each individual that is part of the program. Based on the results of their evaluations, each employee will receive a different number of points that can be redeemed in form of paid time off or other prize options.
Despite the fact that this program (AHELP Program) still needs to be modified in some ways, the program was created to support employees working hard to ensure a healthy lifestyle and encourage others to develop such a lifestyle. When a company adopts the program, it must provide walkways around the company, pushing employees to take part in physical activity and exercise as well as providing healthy options at catered events for the company. Thanks to these great programs, employees have less trouble adopting a healthier lifestyle since their job and employer will support them through it.
Based on what has been said so far, it is clear that Arkansas makes an effort to make it easier for people to access nutrition by using programs involving reward systems and practical everyday alternatives to increase the overall health level of the state and to reduce the obesity rate. Together, the Arkansas Coalition of Obesity Prevention and the U.S. Department of Agriculture provided a large sum of money as a grant for 21 different farmer markets across the state to create a program called Double Up Food Bucks. This program was created in order to allow low-income families who would usually need to make use of only their SNAP (food stamp) points to spend the equivalent of their SNAP funds on fresh foods such as vegetables and fruits at participating vendors. The reward system is heavily relied on by the state of Arkansas to improve the health of its citizens in numerous ways. The processes are being continuously improved by the state. That’s not all the steps on how to become a nutritionist in Arkansas!
Earning a Relevant Degree and Professional Certification to Become a Health Coach in Arkansas
Taking into consideration the fact that health coaching is a newly created field and that currently, no specific degree exists that is dedicated to this profession, there are not too many existing boundaries when it comes to choosing your bachelor’s degree, internships, certifications, electives and much more. Below, you will be able to find a list of multiple suitable degrees and standard certifications for employment.
Choosing a Degree
The following areas offer associate degrees that can help find entry-level health coaching opportunities:
- Business Administration
- Healthcare Management
- Applied Science in Health and Wellness
Many health coach employers will look for candidates that have a bachelor’s degree in one of the following areas:
- Social Work
- Healthcare Management
- Health Promotion
Those with one of the following master’s degree will be considered a strong candidate and will exceed the general employer expectations:
- Sport and Fitness Management
- Health Management
While job requirements will vary from employer to employer, a large number of health coaching position employers will want to see some form of certification proving your skills. By earning certifications, you will be able to demonstrate and prove your expertise in your domain. Often, having some form of certification is mandatory before being hired as they serve as proof of knowledge and authority within the health coaching industry.
The National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) accredits the American Council on Exercise (ACE) certification. ACE offers two different self-study bundles that will help candidates prepare themself for the examination that must be passed to receive the Health Coach Certification. You may choose the “Standard” self-study bundle, or the “Premium”. Certifications accredited by ACE expire after two years, which is also the period of time before you must renew said certification. In order to renew the certification, you must complete continuing education which must then be verified by ACE. You can find in-depth information regarding the certification examination and more details in maintaining your certification by consulting the ACE Certification Candidate Handbook.
That’s how to become a nutritionist in Arkansas!