6 Best Nutrition Certifications
Are you considering getting a nutrition certification but don’t know which program to go with?
Not sure what the differences are, the advantages of each, the pros and cons, study parameters, and other insider information?
Today you are in luck. Below, we have compiled some insider information to help aspiring Certified Nutritionists make the best choice for them. And that last comment there — “best choice for them” — is an important one. The best nutritionist certification is the one that is best for you. As you’ll see below, there are a number of factors that need to be considered before landing on a certification.
How to Become a Certified Nutritionist
Step 1: Knock Out Your Prerequisites
Before you begin your nutritionist certification course, you’ll want to ensure you have the prerequisites needed to be eligible. Unlike the process to become a personal trainer, the prerequisites to become a certified nutritionist vary greatly from company to company.
Most companies that offer personal training certifications along with nutrition certifications require the below before you can sit for the final exam:
- 18 years or older
- High school diploma or GED
- CPR/AED certification
However, the certifications that are not associated with major fitness bodies such Precision Nutrition or Primal Health Coach do not have prerequisites in place.
The ACE Health Coach seems to have the most stringent prerequisites in place, including the above three requirements as well as proof of a current NCCA-certification, an associate degree in a wellness related field, a completed health coach training and education program approved by the National Board for Health and Wellness Coaches (NBHWC), or two years years of documented work experience in wellness-type programs.
Bottom line: if you are serious about a specific course, check out their prerequisites to ensure they work for you.
Step 2: Find the Best Nutritionist Certification for YOU
As mentioned earlier, there is no “best nutritionist certification,” only certifications that are the most highly recognized. Nutrition education isn’t one-size-fits all, it’s up to you to determine what the best course is for your career and weigh all your options.
Further, consider how you learn best and how the options presented fit into your learning process. Another important consideration is time; how quickly do you want to get certified? Some options may be quicker than others and that may impact your final decision.
Step 3: Prepare for Your Exam & Pass!
Don’t overlook the importance of scheduling your final exam for your nutrition certification. Putting this off may result in long term procrastination. Still, you have to be realistic with your final exam date and your study timelines.
Once you knock out the exam and get certified, you are on your way to training with clients
Step 4: Start Landing Nutrition Clients
Now that you have a fancy certification next to your name and have learned about how to work with clients and various nutrition goals, you can master the art of helping your clients achieve their goals.
Without further ado, let’s learn about some important considerations you should be aware of as you choose the best nutritionist certification for you!
Best Nutrition Certification: An Objective Look into 5 Key Criteria
The majority of the nutrition courses on this list are priced in the same ballpark. The cheapest option at the time of this writing was the ACE Health Coach “Basic” package for $599. They also have a “Plus” package for $749 that includes a hard copy and audiobooks.
The Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification, NASM Nutrition Certification, and ISSA Fitness Nutrition Certification are all $799. The AFPA has a discounted 100% online course for $649 in addition to the ebook and textbook course that costs $849.
Primal Health Coach does not display pricing information on their website, however, we found a page that shows the course is $2,995, making it the most expensive option on this page. The rationale for the price of this course, and the others, may be suggested in the following section on focus of education.
Primary Focus of Education
The below information was taken straight off the websites of the certification bodies.
ACE Health Coach Certification: ACE places it’s education focus on business practices and how existing personal trainers can make more money selling this complimentary service.
AFPA Nutrition & Wellness Consultant Certification: As the AFPA course name entails, this cert is a blend of nutrition and wellness principles rolled into one. It delves into the basics of diet planning, understanding nutrients, vitamins and minerals in one’s diet, and how to use food as energy. In addition to the understanding and planning aspect, this course also helps you build essential skills for consulting clients and developing protocols. Further, there is an educational element geared towards prevention and how food can treat or reverse disease.
ISSA Certified Nutritionist: ISSA’s Certified Nutritionist certification trains you on the ins and outs of nutrition but also places emphasis on the psychology of eating well and making good dietary choices. These principles can help coaches understand and plan based on their clients’ needs, according to the program.
NASM Certified Nutrition Coach: In addition to learning what NASM calls “cutting edge nutrition information,” this course incorporates general nutrition knowledge with program design around building muscle and losing fat. These skills focus on mental plateaus as they relate to diet and nutrition as well as psychological principles that trainers can use to help their clients get results.
Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification: Often compared to a college level course, the Precision Nutrition certification simplifies complex diet and nutrition information so that you get a full understanding of the fundamentals and diet-planning that you can pass on to your clients. The program also focuses on designing programs that help clients integrate dieting alongside fitness programs to help them set attainable goals.
Primal Health Coach: The Primal Health Coach platform is rooted in evolutionary health science and what they call “learning how to reprogram genes to direct optimal cellular function.” You’ll be able to teach clients insightful combinations of functional fitness as well as efficient fat burning methods and the lifestyle behaviors that are best for them. The health coaching component is rooted in psychology so you’ll also understand the how’s and the why’s of shifting client behavior.
Expected Study Time
ACE Health Coach Certification: Exam is good for 6 months from the purchase date of your study program.
AFPA Nutrition & Wellness Consultant Certification: As long as you need but you need to complete the exam within six months from enrollment.
ISSA Certified Nutritionist: Study at your own pace. 3-5 hours per week, expected to take 4 months. Must sit for exam 12 within 12 months of registering.
NASM Certified Nutrition Coach: Around 60 hours of total study time.
Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification: As long as you need. 3-5 hours per week, expected to take 4.5 months.
Primal Health Coach: 60 to 100 hours.
Number of Test Questions
ACE Health Coach Certification: 150 Questions (125 scored and 25 experimental questions)
AFPA Nutrition & Wellness Consultant Certification: 250 Questions
ISSA Certified Nutritionist: 363 Questions
NASM Certified Nutrition Coach: 100 Questions
Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification: 180 Questions
Primal Health Coach: 500 Questions
Popularity of Certification
ACE Health Coach Certification: 7,227 students [*]
AFPA Nutrition & Wellness Consultant Certification: No posted results
ISSA Certified Nutritionist: No posted results
NASM Certified Nutrition Coach: New certification without statistics
Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification: 70,000 students [*]
Primal Health Coach: New certification without statistics
FAQs About Nutrition Certifications
You don’t need to be a personal trainer to get a nutrition certification. However, some nutrition certifications, like the ACE Health Coach Certification, have a prerequisite that you have a NCCA-accredited certification in fitness, nutrition, healthcare, wellness, human resources or a related field. Check with the specific certification beforehand to understand the prerequisites. If you are considering becoming a personal trainer first, check out the highly regarded FM-CPT.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics nutritionists have a median pay of around $60,370 per year, or $29.02 an hour.
The typical online nutrition certification can be completed in six months or less. Many of the programs are self-paced, so it is entirely up to the student in terms of how quickly they prepare and pass their final exam.
Yes, nutrition certifications don’t require a four year degree. While some programs can be obtained within a college setting, many certifications are available online without a degree. Just be sure to check the specific certifications’ prerequisites before enrolling for their respective requirements.
There really is no “best” nutrition certification as the decision is highly subjective. The best nutrition certification is the one that has the best course curriculum, price, and potential skill sets for your professional goals.
Nutrition Certification Takeaway
A nutrition certification is an ideal option for those who want to help clients understand their health and wellness through food. Whether as a standalone career or as an add-on to your personal training or health career, the knowledge you gain can help others achieve their personal goals.
The future for certified nutritionists looks bright as the industry is projected for continued growth as more people place an emphasis on the healing and preventative powers of food. As long as there is a trend for people wanting to improve their overall health, there should always be a strong demand for professionals who can help them.