Fitness and nutrition are hot topics these days, because obesity has become so prevalent in our society. Nutrition science is the study of how our bodies transform food into energy. It involves learning about the nutrients in our food and how they affect our health. A related area of study is health and fitness. Fitness degrees equip students with knowledge and training in health and wellness so that they can provide support, encouragement, and education that helps people lead healthier lives. If you would like to promote good wellness and prevent disease through good nutrition and fitness practices, consider earning a fitness or nutrition degree.
Prerequisites for Nutrition and Fitness Degrees
Nutrition Degree Levels
Nutrition programs are available at the associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral level. Most nutritionist positions require either a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Doctoral programs in nutrition prepare students for teaching, research, administrative, and leadership positions in healthcare, academia, government, and other institutions.
Fitness Degree Levels
Health and fitness degrees are typically offered at the certificate, associate’s degree, and bachelor’s degree levels. While there are some master’s degrees in fitness management, those who wish to go on to graduate study in the field often purses degrees in related disciplines, such as exercise science, sports medicine or kinesiology.
The prerequisites for associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs are typically a high school diploma or GED, SAT/ACT scores, and a minimum required GPA. Students who obtain an associate’s degree also have the option of transferring to a four-year school to obtain a bachelor’s degree in the field.
The admissions requirements for master’s and doctoral degree programs are usually a bachelor’s degree, a minimum required GPA, minimum required GRE scores, letters of recommendation, and the completion of prerequisite coursework in subjects like general biology, English composition, organic chemistry, biochemistry, and human physiology.
Required Coursework in Fitness and Nutrition Programs
Good nutrition and fitness is essential to good health. In nutrition programs students learn how the foods we eat or do not eat affect our bodies. They study the role that vitamins and minerals play in the body’s biochemical processes, as well as how diets and dietary supplements affect our bodily functions. Those who have a fitness focus will learn how to prepare our bodies for physical activity and how to advise others regarding exercise.
Students might be required to complete an internship as part of their coursework in order to gain practical, real-world experience. Additional courses that students may be required to take include the following:
- Principles of foods
- Advanced nutrition & metabolism
- Medical nutrition therapy
- Anatomy & physiology
- Organic chemistry
- Personal health & fitness
- Preventive care & athletic injury
- Nutrition counselling
Career Outcomes for Health and Fitness Degree Holders
Careers & Certification
Health and fitness degrees are an appropriate choice if you would like to work as a fitness instructor or personal trainer. Working with people of all levels, fitness trainers lead groups and individuals in exercise activities. In order to become a fitness instructor, you must typically become certified in one or more areas of fitness. The National Commission for Certifying Agencies lists a number of accredited credentialing agencies that are available in the field. Employers often prefer candidates with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of personal trainers and fitness instructors should increase 13% through 2022, which is about as fast as average. Personal trainers and fitness instructors work in recreation centers, fitness clubs, gyms, hospitals, universities, and individual homes. They demonstrate how to use equipment and perform exercises, plan exercise regimens, and correct clients’ technique. In 2012, fitness trainers and aerobics instructors earned a median annual wage of $31,720.
Career Outcomes for Nutrition Degree Holders
With a degree in nutrition, you could become a nutritionist, dietitian, nutrition educator, nutrition advisor, consultant or research assistant. Most dietitian and nutritionist positions require you to have a bachelor’s degree in the field and supervised training.
Licensing & Certification
Many states require nutritionists and dietitians to be licensed. Dietitians can obtain the Registered Dietician Nutritionist (RDN) credential, which is preferred or required by many employers. In order to earn the RDN credential, you must have a bachelor’s degree, complete a dietetic internship program, and pass an exam.
Nutritionists have the option to earn a Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS) credential to demonstrate an advanced level of knowledge. The CNS credential is accepted in many states for licensure. In order to qualify to sit for the CNS exam, you must have a master’s or doctoral degree and 1,000 hours of experience.
Nutritionists and dietitians work in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and cafeterias. They tailor meal plans to meet people’s health needs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of dietitians and nutritionists is projected to grow 21% from 2012 to 2022, which is faster than average for all occupations. In 2012, dietitians and nutritionists earned a median annual wage of $55,240.
The fields of health and nutrition are blossoming as our society begins to pay closer attention to the food we eat and its effects on our health and well-being. If you would like to educate people and help them lead longer, healthier lives, start working towards a fitness or nutrition degree today.