Can you determine if a nutrition certification program is reputable, a good fit, and boosts your career – before you actually sign up?
Absolutely! To do this, you need to:
This article will give you all the answers.
But they're not just based on what we think here at Precision Nutrition. Because … we're a little bit biased. (We offer the world's top-rated nutritional certification, according to a third-party industry report.)
That's why we asked five outside nutritional certification experts to help you weigh the pros and cons. So, you're sure to choose the best nutritional certification program for you.
You may be wondering:
What the heck is a nutritional certification expert?
They are health and fitness industry professionals who have so much experience with certifications that they have a right to be called an expert. Some of them have dozens of certifications.
One of them is the IDEA Health & Fitness Association's 2017 Personal Trainer of the Year.
Three have masters degrees. Two other are registered nutritionists, one of whom has taught at university level.
Simply put, when other professionals are considering nutrition certification, they turn to those people for advice.
You will hear from …
Michael Piercy, MS, CSCS, a retired professional baseball player who owns it The laboratory in Fairfield, New Jersey. Piercy was named IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year in 2017 and has received 34 advanced certifications from various health, fitness and nutrition organizations.
Jennifer Broxterman, MS, RD – a London, Ontario, Canada based Registered Nutritionist and Founder and CEO of NutritionRx– Got certified as a Nutrition Trainer after completing 1800+ hours of training for her diet internship. She has completed Monash University's Low-FODMAP Diet Training and completed courses on eating disorders, food sensitivities, pregnancy, sports nutrition, nutritional supplements, and motivational interviews.
Deana Ng, a Pilates instructor from Sherman Oaks, Calif., has certifications from a variety of organizations: Precision Nutrition, National Pilates Certification Program (NPCP), TRX, American Association of Athletics and Fitness (AFAA), National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), Buff Bones, the MELT Method and Osteo-Pilates.
Vivian Gill, MA, RN-BC, CPT – a Granite Bay, Calif. Based nurse, personal trainer, and lifestyle coach – has more than a dozen certifications in everything from yoga to nutrition, including those from NASM, the American Council on Exercise (ACE)), the Strozzi Institute, AFAA, Les Mills, and the Yoga Alliance.
Kathleen Garcia-Benson, RDN, LD, an El Paso, Texas-based nutritionist with Iron MVMNTstudied nutrition at Texas A&M University, completed hundreds of hours of training for her RDN at Oakwood University, and began her career as a nutritionist in a teaching hospital before moving to an online practice.
This team of experts has seen it all.
Many reported that their certifications catapulted their businesses – they helped them attract customers, improve their success and, as a result, generate more referrals and positive reviews.
Have you ever felt like you wasted your money on nutritional certification? HM Yes. This article introduces three powerful tactics you can use to avoid the same mistake.
Here's what to look for in health, fitness, and nutrition certifications, how to decide if certifications are worthwhile, and what strategies to use to stay away from dodgy businesses.
When choosing a nutritional certificate, ask yourself these questions.
This probably won't shock you: no certification is right for all people.
How do you find the right one for you – right now?
According to our team of nutrition certification experts, there are 8 questions you should carefully consider.
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1. Why would you like to be certified?
By the age of 15, Michael Piercy, MS, CSCS, had read every fitness book he could find in a store in his local mall. A nearby gym wouldn't hire him, however. "We only hire certified coaches," they told him.
That might have been the end of his prospects if his mother hadn't "Never Take No For An Answer" calling certification companies for companies, looking for one to enroll her 15 year old. She eventually found a program that Piercy welcomed.
Later, with his new certification in hand, he reapplied and was hired. (Aren't mothers the best?)
At the time, Piercy's "why" was obvious: it would help him find a job.
However, getting a job is just one of many important reasons to get certification.
Jennifer Broxterman, MS, RD, graduated with a nutritional certification to delve deep into the science of behavior change.
Vivian Gill, MA, RN-BC, CPT wanted to grow her personal training and life coaching business.
And Kathleen Garcia-Benson, RDN, LD sought out her nutritionist certification to brush up on behavior change and motivational interviewing skills.
What should your certification do for you?
Here is a list of what proper nutritional certification could help you with:
✓ Acquire new customers
✓ Retain existing customers
✓ Gain new strategies to help customers succeed
✓ Get hired by someone who needs a nutrition certificate
✓ Improvement of nutritional knowledge
✓ Feel qualified to coach nutrition customers
✓ Add nutrition as a service
✓ Break into health, wellness and fitness
✓ Reach the next level in your career
✓ Improve your ability to communicate with customers
✓ Overcome problems with difficult or resilient customers
✓ Boost your credentials
✓ Stand out from your competitors
✓ Increase your prices
✓ Build credibility and / or trust
✓ Fill a knowledge gap
✓ Dive deep into a specific aspect of nutrition (e.g. pregnancy nutrition).
✓ Learn more about successful behavior change
✓ Be more respected by your colleagues
All of the above? They are good reasons to undergo certification – but not all certifications address all of these reasons, which brings us to the next important question to consider.
2. What are your values?
You might be tempted to just skim this question and think: "What does THIS have to do with my nutrition certificate ?!"
The answer: everything.
Your firm beliefs about nutrition, health, and fitness will affect which nutritional certifications are good for you – and which are not.
For example maybe you:
Don't believe in diets – for anyone. As always.
For spiritual and ethical reasons, follow a strict, entirely plant-based diet – and only want to work with customers who are interested in this type of eating.
Deeply resonated with the concept of holistic health.
None of these values are generally right or wrong for all people.
But they can be deeply right or wrong for you – and you want your certification to reflect that. Otherwise, you will feel like an outsider.
Take Gill. In her career as a nurse, she had found that detailed meal plans or dietary rules did not work for patients struggling with well-being. These patients had too many other things in their way. Like stress. Like insomnia. How to eat anger. Like loneliness. Like lack of support.
As a result, Gill was not remotely interested in:
A magical diet for weight loss. She just wanted a certification experience that showed a number of types of food.
Lists of universal good and bad foods.
A strong focus on nutritional science but very little on stress, sleep, and other deep health factors that affect eating behavior.
Like Gill, Broxterman wanted an open-minded program that taught nutrition in a non-judgmental manner, without strong prejudice against particular diets or foods.
"I'm being shut down by food advocates who only go a rabbit hole deep," she says.
Your stats may differ from Gill or Broxterman's – and that's fine.
The point: when you know your values, you know what your certification should cover.
If you want to get an idea of Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification, you can try ours FREE Nutritional Coaching E-Course.
3. What does nutrition certification cover?
Questions 1 and 2 lead directly to question 3.
Based on your why and values, you may want a nutrition certification that includes holistic health coaching, plant-based nutrition, intuitive and mindful nutrition, and / or a range of other soulful topics.
At the same time, you may not want a certification that is too focused on one or more areas.
In addition to your why and values, our experts recommend that you think about three additional points.
Evaluate your nutritional expertise.
If your understanding is fairly easy, you can benefit from a course that teaches the basics: how digestion works, the role vitamins and minerals play, and what types of foods contribute to good health.
On the other hand, If you're the type of person who reads nutrition journals for fun, an overemphasis on the basics can put you to sleep.
For example, during a fitness certification class from Deana Ng, an instructor spent hours explaining how to do squats, planks, and other basic movements – all Ng already knew.
The information wasn't wrong or bad. Other people in the class benefit from it. But Ng stood and thought, "Why did I waste my money on it?"
Think about how you can improve your skills.
For example, if you learned about the neurological effects of aging, could you better attract older customers? Would Digestion Specific Nutrition Certification Help You Stand Out From Other Trainers? As you broaden your knowledge of plant-based diets, could you better serve existing customers interested in this type of food?
Check your self-confidence.
Perhaps you are the type of person who reaches the "at risk" nutritional category. But when it comes to people's skills? You are freezing
If so, you might want a certification that is more focused on behavior change and less on the basics of nutrition.
For example, many people who come to Precision Nutrition don't just come to learn about food.
You are looking in our Level 1 and Level 2 certifications for guidance on how to help customers change their behavior. After all, customers usually know what to eat, says Piercy. They simply lack the skills to actually do it.
This is true right now, says Gill, as customers struggle with stress, sleep, and mental health – all things that increase hunger and cravings.
4. What is the reputation of the nutrition certification company?
This is one of the most important questions our customers consider when choosing a nutritional certification. To certify companies that conduct nutritional certification, our experts recommend doing five things.
Find out about the Nutritional Certification Program and the experts who created it.
Broxterman opted for nutrition certification with Precision Nutrition in part because the creator, John Berardi, PhD, spoke frequently at a nutrition and fitness summit at Western University in Ontario, Canada.
“He has been invited back year after year because of his references, his academic background, his leadership skills and his expertise. I felt like I could trust what he created. "
Suppose you haven't had a chance to hear a talk from one of the company's managers. What else can you see? Our experts recommend a quick Google search to learn more about the company, its founder, and its curriculum team. Try to learn about:
Educational background: Do the founder and curriculum team have degrees in nutrition, fitness, and / or health? Do these degrees match the expertise the company claims to have?
Research background: Have the company and / or its employees published something that appears on PubMed.gov?
Presentation Background: Do large, reputable organizations invite members of this company to speak to their students, customers, attendees, and / or staff?
Professional background: Where did high-ranking employees work – and how could these experiences have influenced them?
Leisure and social background: How do high-ranking employees spend their free time? Are you going to talk?
Company background: Do you see yourself – race, age, class, hobbies – in the biographies, photos and references of the people who work for the company? And the company tends to hire highly skilled people with advanced degrees and training, such as: B. Registered Dietitians or those with Masters or PhD degrees?
"I've looked at a lot of companies," says Garcia-Benson. “What really helped me to feel comfortable with the certification company I had chosen: They had registered nutritionists on the staff. It was very important to me. It helped me to know that as a registered dietitian I would be welcome and that the program would be science based. "
Make sure the company mentions the scope.
The size of the exercise was a big problem for Garcia-Benson. She had seen people across the fitness industry prescribing nutritional supplements to treat complex health problems, putting people with diabetes on questionable diets, or continuing to work with clients with orthorexia instead of referring them to professionals qualified in medical nutritional therapy.
For them it was an ethical question.
Garcia-Benson just wanted to learn from a company that made it clear what a certified nutritionist can and cannot do – both legally and ethically.
Check out the company's blog and social feeds.
Look for companies that focus on training others at least as well as making money.
Also, check the quality of the materials and see that they:
Include research to secure nutritional information, footnotes and links to sources.
Feature advice from people with good nutritional data.
Are clear and easy to understand.
Piercy is looking for companies that make everything really easy.
“That way, I know that I can pass this information on to the people I train and coach,” he says.
Look for people with certification.
Read reviews from people who have gone through the company's certification program. Talk to other local people too. When available, read third-party industry reports that evaluate certifications and offer pros and cons.
5. How much does it cost?
Regardless of whether your certification costs a few hundred dollars or a few thousand dollars, the price must be accurate.
For example, you might expect a weekend course to cost a few hundred dollars – but certainly not a few thousand. On the other hand, for a year-long certification course that is recognized by people across the industry? A few grand might feel like a bargain.
"I tell the coaches who work for me," says Piercy. "Any certification you receive must pay for itself within the first few months."
Will Serious Nutrition Certification Help You Make More Money?
In a word: yes.
Based on our survey of 1000 nutrition trainers and additional independent research, trainers have:
A nutrition certificate earns a little more per hour than a trainer without.
With two to three certifications, you'll earn an average of $ 12 more per hour than a trainer with just one.
A Precision Nutrition certification earns 11 percent more than those with other certifications.
Use this advice to help you decide whether a new nutritional certification is worth it.
Check out the same stuff for less money.
Could you learn all that the course has to offer from freely available videos? Or by reading a book? Sure, many certifications consolidate all of this information into one convenient place. However, valuable certifications should offer more value. “It has to be more than just consuming knowledge,” says Piercy, “because you can consume knowledge for a lot less money than it costs to get certification. It has to help you apply that knowledge. "
Carry out a cost-benefit analysis.
Reconsider your “why” and consider how certification can improve your life. If this does any of the following, you will likely be pleased with the money spent:
Helps you attract new customers
Improves the way you teach
Increases your confidence
Allows you to reach a new customer population
Makes you a stronger component in the health system
Investigate hidden costs.
Consider whether the company will ask you to pay more in the future to recertify and / or continue your education.
If the company requires re-examination, re-certification, and / or professional development, review the quality of these future professional development options. When few, if any, of the future career development offerings are helping you improve your coaching skills, these recertifications can feel like a money-making system, says Ng.
Is this nutrition certificate worth it? What an IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year wants you to know.
When people ask for advice about signing up for a new certification, Michael Piercy, MS, CSCS, offers a lesson he learned as a professional baseball player.
In search of hits, Piercy knew he couldn't take a baseball player's philosophy 100 percent – because her gifts and strengths didn't necessarily match his. At the same time, he usually collected a pointer or two that helped him bond more firmly with the ball.
When applied to certifications: Any new nutrition certification should teach you a thing or two that you can apply right away.
"If you learn something that changes the way you exercise or exercise, that changes radically," says Piercy.
6. How long will it take?
You won't get as much market credibility with shorter certification courses as you would with longer ones.
"My education was a few years of my life and hundreds of documented hours," says Ng. It's completely different from someone who teaches after just a weekend workshop – and customers get it, she says.
7. How is the online learning experience?
When choosing an online experience, consider four factors: how you will learn, how difficult you are, how you will be tested, and what support you will get.
How you learn
Think about whether you're the type who needs a deadline for motivation or someone who is successful in a program at your own pace.
Similarly, do you learn more from reading than from watching videos – or vice versa?
And think about how you feel in virtual group discussions. Do you look forward to getting in touch with others? Or do you shudder every time an instructor says, "Okay, let's pair up. Please find a partner"?
There are no right or wrong answers here. The point: Your learning style affects whether an online learning experience feels good.
The level of difficulty
The honest truth: The percentage of successful graduates of a program decreases with increasing standards.
Why? Reputable companies with high standards usually create certification opportunities that require:
Worth a few weeks to months of learning.
Loads of readings.
Interactive activities, worksheets and tests that compel students to think deeply about their answers.
In other words, you have to go through a lot of material. Nobody forces you to study. Therefore, students who do not invest time have difficulty.
In the end, certification is only worth what you put into it.
How you are tested
For Ng, what she learns is more important than what she tested, because that's important to customers. They don't care if you can name every bone in the body or describe the digestive system in detail. They care that you know how to help them change, she says.
The support you get
In addition to the online learning experience, consider value-added services such as:
The only virtual member communities for students and graduates
Online materials and handouts to share with customers
Material resources to highlight when it suits you
8. What is the quality of the curriculum experience?
Granted, you may not find out what the curriculum experience is like until you've already presented your credit card. However, this tactic can help you get a solid feel for things.
Check out what the company is bringing out for free.
We already mentioned this investigative tactic for assessing a company's reputation. "I'm looking for companies that are educated generously – without offering a small nugget and then quickly moving on to a sales pitch," says Gill.
Clear, easy to understand free materials most likely signal that the company's curriculum materials are just as clear and easy to understand.
If you'd like samples, here is a shortlist of the free resources Precision Nutrition offers. (This is where our bias comes in, too, but hopefully you will find it valuable.)
Take into account all the bonus resources that the company bundles with the certification.
Years after your certification, you may not remember every detail. This is why it helps if the certification company grants lifetime access to materials so you can refresh your memory, says Ng.
"One of the reasons I chose Precision Nutrition certification was that there was just so much free information out there. Not all certifications do that," says Ng. "You have this whole arsenal, a library of stuff. There are so many tools. It's like a superpower that allows you to do your job to the best of your ability. You feel like an ass. "
Look for certifications that show you how to exercise safely.
Some coaches learn and learn and learn – but never take the plunge to start coaching. So, advanced certifications pairing them with a mentor and leaving time for role play can be helpful in building trust, says Gill.
What to Look for in a Good Nutritional Certification Program
We just told you a lot. Chances are, you won't remember everything. For this reason we have summarized all the important points in the practical checklist below. Screenshot it. Print it out. Or just bookmark this page.
Use it to review certification companies so you get your money's worth.
Your complete nutritional certification program checklist
Look for nutritional certifications that:
✓ Help you take the next step in your career.
✓ Cover the nutrition topics that interest you most.
✓ Increase your confidence.
✓ Adjust your values, your level of knowledge and your learning style.
✓ Are highly valued by other health, fitness and wellness professionals.
✓ Publish easy-to-understand, evidence-based materials.
✓ Demystify the scope.
✓ Offer validation to your graduates so clients can check that their certification is legitimate and current.
✓ Teach you a skill or two that you can use right away.
✓ Pays off within six months.
Avoid nutritional certifications that:
✓ Focus on a tight Taste of the Month skill that will quickly become obsolete.
✓ Are promoted by companies that focus 100 percent on “hard selling”.
✓ Are much more expensive than similar courses because of their accuracy and reputation.
✓ Do not employ qualified experts.
✓ Use social media to disseminate debunked nutrition information.
Whether you ultimately choose to be certified by Precision Nutrition or another company, we are sincerely focused on your success. (The world needs more great coaches.)