Certified Sports Nutritionist

Sports nutrition certification can refer to a couple of things: 1) It may refer to a certificate program in sports nutrition. That is, a diploma program that takes less time and money than a bachelor's or graduate degree, but will will also provide you with less education than the other two, or 2) a test you take in addition to receiving a degree that enhances your career opportunities and puts prospective employers' minds at ease.

Two Options for Sports Nutrition Certification

First, let's discuss option number one: sports nutrition certification as a diploma program. These are widely popular. In fact, they even have online sports nutrition certification courses. American Fitness Professionals & Associates offers a sports Nutrition Consultant Certification course that teaches an individual about nutritional plans, micronutrient intake, dietary patterns and eating disorders, general health, bone health, fitness assessments, counseling skills, and more, in less than six months. They send the textbooks and materials to your door. At the end of the course, there is a final exam. If you pass this exam, you achieve your certification.

The National Exercise and Sports Trainers Association offers a similar course called the NESTA Sports Nutrition Specialist program, only this one is an online sports nutrition certification course. They believe that the most important aspect of an athlete's wellness is nutrition, so they strive to provide you with knowledge on what would best fuel different types of athletes. They also concentrate on the mental health aspect that plays a large role in sports and fitness. Though you can take up to a year to complete the course, the website boasts that you can finish in one or two weeks. There is no prerequisite education required for this program. This type of program is very popular these days because many people are looking for the flexibility of online sports nutrition certifications.

Now, let's discuss option two, becoming a certified sports nutritionist after schooling by way of exam. The International Society of Sports Nutrition offers an exam like this. When you pass the exam, you become a Certified Sports Nutritionist from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (or a CISSN). In order to take this exam, there are education pre-requisites. They expect that you have completed a bachelor's degree in exercise science, kinesiology, physical education, nutrition, biology, or a related biological science from a four-year university program. On top of the exam that will test your knowledge in all aspects of the sports nutrition field (physical, nutritional, and mental), they also require you to complete continuing education credits (CEUs), so that you are always well informed about new data and research in the field.

Another way to become a certified sports nutritionist via exam would be to take the exam for a Registered Dietitian (RD). The American Dietetic Association lists several steps to becoming an RD. First, you must complete a bachelor's degree from a program approved by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). Second, you must complete a supervised practice program that can take from six months to a year. Third, you have to pass the national examination given by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR). Finally, after all that, you must keep up with your CEUs. As you may have gathered, a lot more work goes into the sports nutrition certification by way of exam.

In short, a certified sports nutritionist may mean two completely different things. It would be advisable to look around at possible employers and see exactly what kind of certification they are looking for. If you can complete a two-week online sports nutrition certification to get your dream job, than don't bother with the rest, but if your prospective employer requires more education, than the certification they want is the exam. Whatever kind of sports nutrition certification you end up with, you should have a happy career by helping other people lead healthy and fit lives.