What do a doctor, nutritionist, licensed clinical social worker, nutritionist, and personal trainer have in common?
No, this is not the beginning of a terrible joke …
The answer: we've interviewed people in each of these careers and they all said it was worth getting a nutrition certificate.
But is a nutrition certificate worthwhile for you?
In this article we will examine this question.
The truth is that the value of a nutritional certification depends on your situation.
To help you weigh all of the pros and cons, we've put together this comprehensive guide with a free self-assessment tool that you can use to make the decision for yourself.
In this article you will also find:
The essential questions to consider before getting a nutrition certificate.
5 Unexpected Side Effects of Certification.
Why nutritional certification often leads to greater customer success.
How a nutrition certificate can increase your income potential.
Insights from seven successful certified nutrition trainers from various professions.
5 questions to help you decide whether a nutrition certificate is worthwhile
It can be difficult to find out if a nutrition certificate is worth it. Partly because we all define “worth it” differently.
For example, a nutrition certificate is worthwhile if you:
Acquire the knowledge you need to achieve your career goals?
Will you make more money with it?
Do you get more customers or new opportunities afterwards?
Are you learning something that will change your nutritional philosophy?
Make connections with like-minded people in your industry?
Consider the following questions to help define what “worth it” means to you.
So use this quiz to help you make your decision
Each section below ends with a question. They rate your answer on a scale from 0 to 5. (Just click the number on your screen and your results will be filled in automatically at the end of the quiz.)
Once you have answered all five questions, you will get a result that is worth / not being worth.
If you are unsure how to answer one or more of the 5 questions (or just want to look at them from multiple angles), boxes labeled "Dig Deeper" are prompts for further reflection.
Our advice: have a diary ready. Write down your thoughts so that you can refer to something as you make your decision.
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Question 1: Does a nutrition certificate fill a knowledge gap?
Nutritional certification is worthwhile if it helps you acquire important knowledge or skills, according to the trainers we interviewed.
Here are a few practical examples of how nutritional certification can fill knowledge gaps.
The personal trainer who wanted to master nutrition
The release of a hugely popular Netflix nutritional documentary, coupled with a resulting flurry of customer questions, made personal trainer Tyler Buckingham, PN1, PPSC realize the full extent of misinformation about diet.
He wanted to understand the discussion better and answer customer questions with authority. "I thought, okay, it was time to get certified in nutrition," says Buckingham, who trains a group of former athletes.
Since being certified, he's been much more adept at answering the nutritional questions customers ask him – especially tricky questions with no clear answer.
“I like having that flexibility and being able to say, 'Hey, you could try this, or you could try this. What do you want to do? Let us talk about it. "
In the end, Buckingham knows that its customers are getting the answers to their questions and the actionable advice they need to keep moving forward.
The doctor who wanted to give better advice
Kristina Hines, DO, PN1, a family medicine-based CrossFit Level 1 trainer, was confident talking to patients about exercise. But the few hours of nutritional education she received in medical school just didn't cut it.
"I didn't really know what to tell patients nutritionally," she says.
Their patients often had specific questions about how to eat, whether different diets were right for them, and which foods calmed their symptoms.
Dr. Hines wanted a deeper understanding of nutrition, so she decided to get nutrition certification.
Thanks to the certification course, Dr. Hines now answer nearly all nutritional questions patients ask.
The registered nutritionist who wanted to know about behavior change
Jennifer Broxterman, MS, RD, was already a nutritionist when she received her nutrition certification. But she wanted to learn more about the psychology of behavior change and motivational interviews.
“As a university professor, I like to see different teaching methods and learning styles,” she says.
For her, Precision Nutrition Level 1 certification meant gaining insight into how behavior change actually works so that she can better implement it with her customers.
Will a nutrition certificate fill a knowledge gap?
already know everything
have a large knowledge gap
What do you hope to learn from a nutritional certification? How does certification help you learn?
What skills would help you reach out to more people or improve your work with them? Could a nutrition certificate help?
How do you feel when nutritional issues arise? How does that compare to what you'd like to feel?
Question 2: Does a nutritional certification bring you additional and valuable advantages?
People often cite benefits of certification that go beyond their original purpose, such as:
improved communication skills
Opportunities to learn from colleagues and experts in the field
a healthier relationship with food
We'll cover each of these benefits in depth below so you can decide if they'll be worth it for you.
Benefit # 1: Improved Credibility
After this Vivian Gill, MA, RN-BC, CPT, received her nutritional certification and saw something that surprised her: “My credibility has increased,” says the nurse, personal trainer and lifestyle coach. "Customers know I am evidence-based, not biased, and they have felt the difference."
Gill saw many other trainers in her community force dieting, macros, and detox. Her nutritional certification helped her realize that a different approach would resonate with her clients.
"I've chosen to be the voice of reason and grace," she adds.
Benefit # 2: More confidence
For Buckingham, what is the greatest hidden benefit of certification? "Definitely the confidence I have now," he says.
Not so long ago, a customer came to see him to lose weight. During her admission, Buckingham learned that the client had already lost several pounds. Obviously the person did a lot right.
In the past, Buckingham would have felt pressured to deliver a completely different program – that's why. However, thanks to what he had learned from his certification, he confidently encouraged his client to proceed with some of the same strategies.
Buckingham is also more comfortable talking about the gray areas of diet.
Instead of pretending to know everything, he'll be comfortable saying, "Hey, I don't know the answer to this question, but I'll find out" or "Why don't we see if it works?" Then after a week we can see what happened and take it from there. "
Benefit # 3: Improved coaching and communication skills
Some nutrition certification courses, such as Precision Nutrition Level 1, provide information on the art of coaching as well as nutrition science. In other words, part of the course trains you to speak to your customers more effectively. (Would you like to see what we mean? Check out ours FREE Nutritional Coaching E-Course.)
Josh Chang, PN1, nutritionist and owner of Mycro Nutrition, says it was worth it for him to earn certification as he learned to talk to customers about their barriers.
“Nutritionists are trained to conduct slightly motivating interviews and to empathize with customers. However, Precision Nutrition teaches you to go a step or two further – to get to know the customer and find out why they might be saying what they are saying or doing what they are doing. "
“Nutrition certification can be worthwhile if you need a little help strengthening those communication or rapport building skills,” he adds.
Benefit # 4: Opportunity to learn from colleagues and experts in the field
Some nutrition certifications offer Facebook groups, online forums, and even in-person events. These resources provide trainers with the opportunity to connect with like-minded health professionals, receive input from others on challenges, and in some cases, access top experts in the field of nutrition.
Having a large community of coaches on hand was one of the greatest unexpected benefits for Chang.
“As soon as you have signed up for PN Level 1 or 2, you will be invited to a Facebook group. I especially enjoy seeing how different coaches react when people ask questions. Some coaching suggestions fall well outside the left box. I think, "I would never have thought of that, but it's brilliant."
Benefit # 5: A healthier relationship with food
Jenna Ashby PA-C, PN1, an oncologist assistant, chose to become a nutritionist after overcoming eating disorders.
Although Ashby uses her nutritional certification primarily on her side job at Breathe CrossFit in Derry, New Hampshire, she also came out of experience working at a few personal food stalls.
"It helped me consolidate what I've built on over the past few years and it has helped me find more peace with myself," says Ashby. "I now know without a doubt: I can love my body, be okay with my body and nourish it appropriately."
"That's huge because I once thought if I wanted to eat I had to exercise or vice versa. Now this mentality is reversed: in order to be strong and feel strong, I have to feed myself. PN certification does that for really confirmed me, ”she says.
Does nutrition certification bring you additional and valuable benefits?
not valuable at all
How would you like customers to see your knowledge of nutrition, and how are you currently measuring yourself against it?
How sure are you about your dietary recommendations when working with clients? How do you deal with it when you are not sure about something?
How do you rate your current coaching and communication skills? How does your message seem to be received when you talk to people about nutrition?
Where do you currently connect with colleagues and experts in your field? How could you benefit from additional opportunities?
How would you describe your current nutritional philosophy and relationship with food? Is there any room for improvement here?
Question 3: Does a nutrition certification match your career goals?
With a nutritional certification, you can give nutritional recommendations to otherwise healthy customers.
With a nutritional certification, you are qualified for:
Give the right nutritional advice at the right time
Develop an action plan that your customers will actually follow
Help people change their bodies and health
These qualifications can be useful in a variety of careers.
What Are Your Career Opportunities With A Nutrition Certification?
People often wonder if they need to (or return to) college to begin a career in nutrition. For certain jobs (e.g. registered nutritionist) you need a special degree and training.
But there is also a lot you can do with nutritional certification alone. Trainers in our community have job titles such as:
Sports nutrition trainer
Weight loss coach
Weight Management Consultant
Corporate wellness educator
Nutritional program manager at a gym or other health facility
High performance advisor
Parents stay at home and Part time Nutrition trainer
If you already have (or want to earn) additional certifications or degrees, there may be other career opportunities. Some PN certified trainers are also:
Personal trainers and strength trainers who practice nutrition coaching
Physiotherapists who practice nutrition coaching
Doctors, nurses and medical assistants who provide nutritional coaching
Psychologists, psychotherapists and social workers who practice nutrition coaching
What are you not qualified for?
It is important to note that Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT), which provides nutritional advice to treat or cure any disease, does not fall within its scope unless you are specifically MNT accredited. You are not qualified to do this with a nutrition certificate alone, and you should never try.
Depending on where you live, the rules and regulations regarding what people with nutritional certifications are allowed to do vary.
For example, in some states, registered nutritionists are the only people who can create meal plans. In these states, nutrition trainers can still help people eat as long as they don't tell people exactly what to and shouldn't eat.
When you get Precision Nutrition certification, you will find that dieting, food taboo and telling people exactly what to eat is not our style anyway. Check out our Nutritional Certification to learn how to get results without these tactics.
Does a nutrition certification match your career goals?
not in line at all
Yes, they align completely
How can nutrition coaching fit into your current job? Or do you want to pursue a new career in nutrition?
Take a look at the job titles listed above. Which ones sound interesting to you and / or are in line with your career goals?
Do you need a nutrition certificate to be qualified (or feel confident enough) to use the job titles listed in the previous question? Why or why not?
Question 4: Does nutrition certification help the clients you work with (or plan to work with)?
Our graduates say that nutrition certification can help you provide better service to your customers (or potential customers). This service can focus not only on what they eat, but also on how they think, feel and go about their daily lives. (We call this "deep health" coaching.)
That way, you can find out what's really stopping customers from making the permanent changes they really want.
This is important because many people receive a nutrition certificate, at least in part, because they want to help people – even if their friends or family members are. So it's worth considering how certification helps the people you work with (or who you may want to work with).
For example, Buckingham now includes nutritional coaching for its personal training clients as a value-added service. "When you meet me in person, I often say," Hey, let's talk about nutrition. Let's make sure these questions are answered, ”he explains.
Obtaining nutritional certification can also improve the customer experience. "I think it made me a better practitioner," says Dr. Hines.
Developing her motivational interview skills helped her approach nutrition conversations in a way that made patients feel more comfortable.
"Now I can meet my patients where they are instead of making them feel like I'm just teaching them. I'm really trying to empower patients to know they have a say. I'm not just telling them what they are have to do. "
Finally, nutritional certification can help clients get better results.
For example, Kelly Lynch, LCSW, EMT, CPT, PN1, a therapist specializing in first responder treatment, suggested clients speak to their doctors about blood tests and other diagnostic tests, especially if she suspected their mental health symptoms might be related (or made worse by) nutritional deficiencies, GI dysfunction, or hormonal problems.
When one of her clients described depression worsening along with digestive problems, Lynch thought of a condition she had learned about during her certification that could contribute to these symptoms: SIBO (overgrowth of small intestinal bacteria). She encouraged the client to ask his doctor about it.
Tests showed that Lynch's guess was correct and that the client's depression improved once the SIBO was treated.
Does a nutrition certificate help your customers?
won't help at all
will mainly help
What added value would your customers get if they received a nutrition certificate?
How would more knowledge and better coaching / communication skills improve customer experience?
How would nutrition and coaching expertise help your clients get better results?
Question 5: Does a nutrition certificate increase your income potential or does it offer other financial benefits?
Based on our Survey of 1000 nutrition trainers and additional independent researchTrainers with a nutrition certificate earn slightly more per hour than trainers without one.
If you've got two to three certifications, you'll make an average of $ 12 more per hour than a coach with just one.
And Trainers with a Precision Nutrition certification earn 11 percent more than people with other certifications.
So it's safe to say that certified trainers earn more on average.
For Chang, gaining nutritional certification was the impetus to start his own coaching company to move him from a nutritional environment in the hospital to the driver's seat of his own career and earning potential.
Lynch took a greater interest in her therapy services after announcing that she had received nutritional certification. It also helped her build a coaching business and generate additional sources of income.
For some, nutritional certification could be a way to save money. Ashby not only allowed her to start a part-time job as a nutritionist, but also said that once she was certified, she no longer felt like paying for someone else's nutritional advice. Now she is absolutely confident that she can adjust her own eating habits.
Does a nutrition certificate increase your income potential or does it offer other financial benefits?
not at all
Does nutrition certification allow you to bill customers more than currently or offer new services?
How can nutrition certification increase interest in your services? Could it help expand your customer base?
How can nutrition certification potentially save you money on the services you no longer need or the outsourcing that you no longer need to do?
Is it worth getting a nutrition certificate?
YOUR TOTAL VALUE: – –
Now find your assessment area to determine whether a nutrition certificate is worthwhile.
20 and above: Yes, a nutrition certificate is worthwhile for you!
Based on your answers, it sounds like a nutrition certificate will pay off. When you get certified, you will improve:
Nutritional science and coaching knowledge
Career opportunities and coaching services
Ability to help customers
and so much more.
6 to 19: A nutrition certificate could be worthwhile for you.
Based on your answers, it sounds like nutritional certification will pay off in some ways but may not pay off in others.
The big question to ask yourself is, do the likely benefits outweigh the costs?
To answer this, take another look at your quiz answers, especially the ones that got you a 4 or a 5.
Compare the benefits with the costs of certification.
For example, let's say you ranked high for a certification that bridges a knowledge gap and is likely to generate more income. You may have already set aside the money for the cost, as well as the time to take and pass a course. If so, you will likely decide that certification is worth it.
On the other hand, let's say you've selected 5 for a certification that matches your career goals. For all other questions, choose a 3 or lower. In addition, you would have to borrow money to pay for certification. And you already work two jobs. Oh, and you've got a baby on the way. Certification may not be worthwhile for you – at least not at the moment.
5 and younger: It doesn't seem like nutritional certification is worthwhile for you.
Based on your answers, it is not clear whether a nutrition certificate is worthwhile. Nevertheless there are always exceptions.
You may want to obtain certification for your personal benefit only – not your career. You may not want to work with clients, make money through nutrition coaching, or change jobs and that is perfectly legitimate.
Regardless of your decision, it is important to have a clear picture of your reasoning. Hopefully through this self-assessment you have achieved this.
Where to from here
If you choose to get nutrition certification, you have a whole range of programs to choose from.
For more information, see this in-depth article: How to Choose the Right Nutritional Certification Program for YOU.
Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes – in ways that are tailored to their unique bodies, preferences, and circumstances – is both an art and a science.
If you want to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification. The next group will start shortly.