Becoming a Licensed or Non-Licensed Nutritionist in Arkansas

An astounding percentage ofArkansas adults (50.5 percent) in Arkansas have reported that they do not consume the recommended intake of fruit each day – in fact, they have reported that they eat fruit less than once a day, on average. This statistic comes from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)’s 2016 report. Additionally, 28 percent of Arkansas adults eat vegetables less than one time each day. The statistics for adolescents in Arkansas are even more disheartening: 47.9 percent of Arkansas’ adolescents do not eat fruit at least once a day, and 41.8 percent of them eat less than one vegetable per day. 

Arkansas is a rural state, and therefore, many of its communities lack access to healthy foods, trained health care professionals who could encourage healthy diets and food choices, and physical activity options. Nutritionists, who are specialists trained and educated in food and dietetics, can help Arkansas residents to learn to eat more and varied types of foods to support a healthy lifestyle. 

In the state of Arkansas, nutritionists need not be licensed – the state’s Dietetics Licensing Board only licenses registered dietitians. According to the National Association of Nutrition Professionals (NANP), Arkansas does not define the unlicensed practice of nutrition as a crime, nor does it impose a civil penalty upon those who practice nutrition care without a license. Unlicensed nutritionists in Arkansas may work with individuals or groups providing nutrition services, as well as advise clients on the proper usage of food, food supplements and vitamins. 

Here, we will take a look at how nutritionists work in Arkansas. Because no licensure mandates exist for nutritionists in Arkansas, we will dispense with the distinctions between “licensed” and “non-licensed” nutritionists and instead, discuss the best ways for you to become a nutritionist if you wish to work in the state of Arkansas. 

It is important to point out that many nutritionist jobs in Arkansas might be listed under the heading “nutritionist,” but are actually intended for registered dietitians (Here is information on becoming a registered dietitian in Arkansas). The term is often used interchangeably in the state. We will be examining how to prepare for nutritionist positions in Arkansas that do not require registered dietitian certification here. 

Get an Undergraduate Degree in Nutrition in Arkansas 

The first step you should take towards becoming a nutritionist in Arkansas is to obtain a bachelor’s degree in nutrition or a closely related field. Some examples of degrees that are available in the state at the undergraduate level include, but are not limited to:

  • Bachelor of Science in Food, Nutrition and Health – University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
  • Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Food Science – University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff
  • Bachelor of Science in Nutrition Sciences – University of Central Arkansas, Conway
  • Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Food Management – Harding University, Searcy

Courses that you will likely take in an undergraduate nutrition degree program include:

  • Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Psychology
  • Fundamentals of Nutrition
  • Principles of Foods
  • Nutrition Education & Counseling
  • Research Methods in Nutrition

What Can I Do with an Undergraduate Degree in Nutrition in Arkansas?

Many nutritionist positions, including ones in which you freelance or contract your nutrition care services to organizations or individuals, may be available in Arkansas with just a bachelor’s degree. Or, you may elect to pursue professional certification in nutrition.

Certification Possible with an Undergraduate Degree in Arkansas

Some nutritionists in Arkansas decide to become professionally certified through the Clinical Nutrition Certification Board (CNCB) as a Certified Clinical Nutritionist (CCN). This is one of the standard nutritionist certifications accepted nationwide, and will likely help you to land more jobs than you could without it. It requires at least a bachelor’s degree in nutrition, plus completion of online post-graduate clinical nutrition studies, and passing an examination.

Get a Graduate Degree in Nutrition in Arkansas 

Other nutritionists in Arkansas opt to get their graduate degree, in order to improve their job marketability even more. You will also discover that more professional nutrition certifications are available to graduate degree holders, should you decide to pursue such certifications. Examples of graduate degrees in nutrition in Arkansas, that are not tailored just for registered dietitians, are:

  • Master of Science in Human Nutrition and Hospitality Management – University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
  • Master of Science in Nutrition – General Nutrition – University of Central Arkansas, Conway
  • Master of Science in Health Science – University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

What Can I Do with a Graduate Degree in Nutrition in Arkansas?

More jobs will become available to you with a graduate degree in nutrition in Arkansas. You may also decide to pursue certain certifications, such as those listed in the following section.

Certification Possible with a Graduate Degree in Nutrition in Arkansas

Some master’s degree holders in Arkansas will become certified by the Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS) of the Board for Certification of Nutrition Specialists (BCNS) of the American Nutrition Association (ANA) as a Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS). In order to obtain this certification, you must have at least a master’s degree in nutrition or a closely related area, 1000 hours of nutrition care practice experience, and pass an examination.

Jobs for Nutritionists in Arkansas

Examining the latest job openings for nutritionists in Arkansas reveals that there are many opportunities which do not require one to have registered dietitian certification. Jobs available for nutritionists in Arkansas are diverse and, as of June 2022, include:

  • Clinical Instructor I, Nutrition and Family Sciences–University of Central Arkansas, Conway
    • Requires a graduate degree
    • Requires five years of higher education experience 
  • Health and Wellness Coach – Texarkana Nutrition, Texarkana, AR
    • Requires a high school diploma
    • Salary: $40,000/year
  • Director of Nutrition Services – Opaal Food Management, Inc, Manila, AR
    • Requires a bachelor’s degree in nutrition
    • Salary: $44,700 to $56,700/year
  • Assistant Director of Child Nutrition – Greenbrier School District, Greenbrier, AR
    • Requires some post-secondary education in nutrition
    • Salary: $30,400 to $38,400/year

(Also, take a look at our page for Becoming a Registered Dietitian in Arkansas here.)