Nutritionist and Dietitian Programs in West Virginia
Dietitians and nutritionists are the food experts who teach others how to eat healthy meals, prepare menu plans and choose the best nutrition for optimum health. Graduates of nutritionist schools in West Virginia might work with individuals, corporations, organizations and other groups to create meal plans, help others learn to follow them, evaluate the results and adjust as necessary to help ensure those under their care are receiving adequate nutrition. They might work to educate the public on issues such as obesity or malnutrition, and they can also work with individuals who are dealing with nutrition issues, such as those who are suffering from eating disorders.
Graduates of West Virginia nutritionist and dietitian schools might find work in many varied settings, including rehabilitation centers, hospitals, nursing homes, food services, cafeterias, schools, prisons, eating disorder clinics and more. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 32 percent of nutritionists and dietitians worked in hospitals, where they were responsible for the varied meal plans of patients. Another 15 percent were self-employed, pursuing positions such as personal chef, food service manager, private practice with individual clients or restaurant work, among other possibilities.
Education and Training
In the state of West Virginia, applicants for a dietitian license must have a minimum of a bachelor's degree in nutrition, dietetics or the equivalent. Related degrees can include health sciences, health and nutrition, food service management or similar subjects. Courses integral to these nutrition-oriented degrees include biology, chemistry, physiology and nutrition.
Aspiring dietitians must also complete at least 900 hours of supervised practice in order to qualify for the license. Some nutritionist and dietitian programs in West Virginia incorporate those 900 hours into the program, while others expect the work requirement to be completed through internships.
Those who choose to become licensed could qualify for any of the following:
- Registered Dietitian (RD): The most common designation, the RD is a food and nutrition expert who has met all the guidelines of the Commission on Dietetic Registration.
- Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN): An optional title that can be used by those with an RD license, using the term "RDN" can reduce confusion among those who use "nutritionist" and "dietitian" as interchangeable terms.
- Dietetic Technician (DTR): This license requires at least an associate degree and 450 hours of supervised practice. DTRs often work under the supervision of RDs.
- Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS): This is the designation for someone who holds a master's degree or higher in nutrition or related fields, and has completed courses on science-based nutrition therapy.
The Commission on Dietetic Registration offers additional credentials to those who narrow their field of study. These can include board certified specialities in oncology nutrition (CSO), pediatric nutrition (CSP) and rental nutrition (CSR), among others.
Salary and Employment Outlook
According to May 2012 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, dietitians and nutritionists in West Virginia made an median wage of $49,030 (bls.gov, 2013) per year with the highest and lowest 10 percent earning $74,040 and $28,650 respectively. In addition, according to Workforce West Virginia, Research, Information, and Analysis, dietitians and nutritionists in West Virginia may experience an opportunity growth of up to 11.85 percent from 2010 to 2020 (workforcewv.org, 2012).
The following table provides nutritionist and dietitian salary information by metropolitan area within the state (bls.gov, 2013).
Those who wish to obtain a license in West Virginia must complete the following steps:
- Accept and comply with the code of ethics set forth by the licensing board
- Earn a bachelor's degree or higher from an accredited school with a focus on nutrition, dietetics and the like
- Complete 900 hours of supervised practice
- Pass the written examination set forth by the Commission on Dietetic Registration
Licenses must be renewed every year. The state of West Virginia requires 20 hours of continuing education every two years in order to keep the license current. If dietitian allow their license to lapse for more than three years, they must go through the exam again in order to have their license reinstated.
To learn more about the requirement for becoming a nutritionist or dietitian, visit the Commission on Dietetic Registration. To learn more about how to become a nutritionist in West Virginia, visit the West Virginia Board of Licensed Dietitians.
For more information:
West Virginia Board of Licensed Dietitians
723 Kanawha Blvd East
Room 105- Union Building
Charleston, WV 25301
304/558-1024 or 800/293-9832
Commission on Dietetic Registration
Dietitians and Nutritionists, Bureau of Labor Statistics
West Virginia Board of Licensed Dietitians
Workforce West Virginia, Research, Information, and Analysis
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, West Virginia