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How to Become a Holistic Nutritionist

by Stephen Jeske, studioD

Holistic nutritionists educate their clients on healthy eating and dietary modification. They use their knowledge of nutrition and natural remedies to proactively help individuals maintain and improve their physical health. Taking into consideration their patients’ routine and history of ailments, they rely on lifestyle changes and alternative remedies to address their physical issues.


Research the licensing requirements for your state. These requirements will influence the route you take to becoming a holistic nutritionist. Most states require a license to practice as a nutritionist. The particulars vary, and some states require only registration or certification. This may require passing a board examination or completing an internship for a set period of time.

Obtain your degree at an approved institution. A bachelor's degree is usually necessary, though many nutritionists have advanced degrees. State requirements determine whether a master’s degree is mandatory. Before enrolling in any program, verify that your program is approved by the National Association of Nutritional Professionals, NANP. This is only necessary if you plan on obtaining credentials through the Holistic Nutrition Credentialing Board. Though not required, many holistic nutritionists find this credential provides a respected measure of competency to prospective employers and customers.

Find an internship to obtain the necessary practice hours. Most states don’t allow independent practice without a license. In addition, internships often provide useful professional contacts that can lead to permanent employment. The Holistic Nutrition Credentialing Board requires prospective nutritionists to acquire 500 hours of professional work before taking their exam. New graduates can sit for the exam before completing the required number of hours. They have two years to complete their requisite hours, during which time they can use the title, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition.

Sit for your state licensing exam. Licensing information for holistic nutritionists can be obtained from the Secretary of State’s office or your state's department of professional credentials.

Earn the Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition credential. Candidates need to submit proof of successful completion of an NANP-approved program, professional membership in NANP and documentation of 500 hours of professional holistic nutrition experience. Half of these hours must be spent working in direct contact with the public, providing consulting and education services. The remaining hours must be devoted to post-graduation research in holistic nutrition.

Find Work. Holistic nutritionists can find work in a number of environments, including working alongside chiropractors, homeopaths, medical doctors and naturopaths. Some are self-employed, dealing with the public using their own offices. Others find work as consultants for individual clients and health care organizations. Hospitals, long-term care facilities and doctor’s offices also require the services of nutritionists as do large natural food marketing companies.


  • All holistic nutritionists need training, however some complete their traditional nutritionist training before pursuing holistic alternatives.


  • Verify the licensing requirements should you ever move to a new state, since they can vary between jurisdictions. In some states, it's illegal to practice without the appropriate license.

About the Author

Stephen Jeske began writing professionally in 2010 for various websites. He is a former partner in a 49-year-old family business and has been a private investor for over three decades. Jeske holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Specialized Honors Music from York University.

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