Becoming a Clinical Nutritionist

by Stephanie Dube Dwilson

As new genetically modified foods are developed, their effects on humans are still under evaluation. Clinical nutritionists shed light on topics like this by studying how foods react chemically and biologically with our bodies. Becoming a clinical nutritionist requires extensive education, certification and a commitment to the field.


A certified clinical nutritionist must have at least a bachelor's degree in science that includes three hours each of anatomy, microbiology, chemistry, human biology and biochemistry. Candidates must also take five nutrition-focused classes. If you have an advanced degree as a health professional, such as a licensed pharmacist or nursing degree, you need an additional 56 hours of online clinical human nutrition training. If you have a master's, Ph.D. or D.Sc. in human nutrition, you may already qualify for the certification examination.

Internship Program and Training

Clinical nutritionists must have extensive training to ensure they are fully qualified before they are given certificates to practice in their field. This includes a supervised 900-hour internship or five years of nutrition work experience. If the candidate doesn't have a master's degree in clinical nutrition, he must also take a post-graduate clinical nutrition program.

Board Examination

After all education and training requirements are met, a nutritionist candidate is ready to take the Certified Clinical Nutritionist Examination, given by the CNCB, the Clinical Nutrition Certification Board. This written exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions. After passing the exam, the candidate will receive a certification from the CNCB.

Continuing Education

Becoming certified does not end the requirements to become a clinical nutritionist. Every two years, nutritionists must take 40 hours of approved continuing education classes to keep their certificate. They must also periodically take recertification exams.

About the Author

With features published by media such as Business Week and Fox News, Stephanie Dube Dwilson is an accomplished writer with a law degree and a master's in science and technology journalism. She has written for law firms, public relations and marketing agencies, science and technology websites, and business magazines.

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