Industry Pathway: Integrative and Functional Medicine-Nutrition

Why Pursue a Career in Integrative and Functional Medicine-Nutrition?

Integrative and Functional Medicine-Nutrition is the integration of systems of biology, the environment, and lifestyle to promote optimal health. People today are looking for professionals that are highly trained in personalized nutrition solutions. Integrative and functional nutrition goes beyond basic dietary guidelines. They incorporate digestive health and get to the root causes of what is going on. They look at the environmental impact of genetics and other factors for disease.  

Integrative medicine itself uses an evidence-based approach to treat the whole person, which includes your mind, body, and soul. Those who work in this type of field don’t replace a primary care doctor but work together with members of the healthcare team. 

Whether you decide to go into a private business, a community organization, or a healthcare setting, going into Integrative and Functional Medicine-Nutrition would allow you to work with clients to help determine their current health status, and then create both short and long-term nutritional goals. You would check in with your clients to check on their process.

If you are interested in nutrition and have the desire to help others use nutrition to get over an illness or to live a healthier lifestyle, a career in the Integrative and Functional Medicine-Nutrition field would be for you. 

Integrative and Functional Medicine-Nutrition Career Outlook

The career outlook for the Integrative and Functional Medicine-Nutrition field is good as more and more people look to this type of holistic medicine to seek answers to people’s health situations. 

According to BLS, which is the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Dietitian and Nutritionist career field is projected to grow 7% from 2021 through 2031, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations. 5,000+ openings for Dietitians and Nutritionists are projected each year for the next decade. 

A Health Education Specialist and Community Health Worker is a similar field and is projected to grow by 12% in the same time frame. 

When it comes to salaries, a Nutritionist can make an average of $67,000, according to Here is a breakdown of similar careers and how much you can expect to make from each of them.

Annual Salaries – Integrative & Functional Medicine-Nutrition Careers

JOB TITLE Lower Range Average  Higher Range 
Nutritionist  $61,000 $67,000 $73,600
Dietitian  $60,947 $66,955 $73,572
Nutrition Director  $92,053 $104,304 $117,370
Naturopathic Doctor  $121,333 $154,172 $200,454
Scientist in Biochemistry  $65,503 $71,517 $79,609


Location can also play a part in your salary. In California, the average annual salary for Dietitians and Nutritionists is $82,380, and in Texas, it is $64,560. You can read more about locations at BLS. 

Skills Gained with an Integrative and Functional Medicine-Nutrition Degree

Within the Integrative and Functional Medicine-Nutrition field, there are a variety of degrees you can pursue. Some examples are:

  • Nutritional Biochemistry
  • Public Health
  • Nutrition
  • Integrative and Functional Nutrition 

Within these degree programs, a student will develop the skills they need for a career in Integrative and Functional Medicine-Nutrition. These skills include:

  • Communication skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Scientific knowledge
  • Written communication 
  • Math skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Organizational skills
  • Management skills 

Integrative and Functional Medicine-Nutrition Career Paths

There are different types of careers you can pursue within the Integrative and Functional Medicine-Nutrition field. Here are a few examples:

  • Clinical Dietitian/Nutritionist – Where you would provide medical nutrition therapy and access nutritional needs in patients in hospitals and nursing care facilities. 
  • Food and Nutrition Management – Where you are responsible for overseeing operational procedures, purchasing food, and planning the menu as well as budgeting aspects of clinical food service. 
  • Public Health Nutrition – Where you would work to prevent disease, prolong life, and promote health through nutrition and work to achieve greater well-being with better food and nutrition choices.
  • Nutrition Education and Research – Where you would teach nutrition whether it is at an individual level, the community level, or at a long-term healthcare facility. 
  • Food Technologist – Where you would research and develop as well as oversee the production of food. You also focus on newly discovered ingredients and technologies for recipes.
  • Nutritional Therapist – Where you would help people improve their food choices and understand the dieting process. 
  • Naturopathic Doctor – Where you diagnose, prevent, and treat acute as well as chronic illnesses. Help to restore and establish optimal health. You would also work to identify the underlying cause of an illness. 

How to Start Your Career in Integrative and Functional Medicine-Nutrition

Ideally, you would get your master’s degree in order to have a career in Integrative and Functional Medicine-Nutrition. In order to get a master’s degree, you would first need a bachelor’s degree, which takes 4 years. A master’s degree would take you around 2 years to complete.

Master’s Degrees in Integrative and Functional Medicine Nutrition

You can go on to get a Master’s in:

  • Integrative and Functional Medicine
  • Functional Nutrition
  • Health Science in Functional and Integrative Nutrition
  • Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine
  • Integrative Medicine

Bachelor’s Degrees in Integrative and Functional Medicine Nutrition

For a bachelor’s degree, you can get a Bachelor’s in:

  • Integrative Nutrition
  • Functional Nutrition
  • Holistic Nutrition
  • Health Science

Doctoral Degrees in Integrative and Functional Medicine Nutrition

For a doctorate or Ph.D., you can get a Ph.D. in:

  • Integrative and Functional Nutrition
  • Holistic Nutrition
  • Functional Medicine
  • Integrative Healthcare

Of course, there are more options than those listed, but that should give you a good idea of what your options might be. The name of the program depends on where you go to school and what type of program you are looking for. 

Certifications for a Career in Integrative and Functional Medicine Nutrition

You would also need to look into being licensed in your state once you get your degree. Each state might have different qualifications. Here are three of the most common certifications for this field.

Clinical Nutrition Certification Board (CNCB)

This is a certification agency that provides professional training, examination, and certification for health care practitioners. 

    • Need a bachelor of science degree, have an advanced professional degree in a licensed health care field, or have a master’s degree, Ph.D., or Doctor of Science in Human Nutrition. There is also specific coursework within the degree as well.
    • Access the course and begin your study; there are 4 sessions.
    • Submit an exam application
    • Take and pass the CCN exam

Certified Nutrition and Wellness Educator (CNWE)

This certification is from the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (AAFCS).

    • Need a bachelor’s degree
    • Take and pass the competency exam

The International Board of Lifestyle Medicine (IBLM)

This agency sets and maintains standards for the assessment and credentialing of physicians and Ph.D./Masters level health professionals in Lifestyle Medicine globally. 

    • Need to be licensed to practice as a physician, hold a master’s degree or doctorate in a health or allied health discipline, or be certified as a Lifestyle Medicine physician by IBLM
    • Proof of required CMEs, credentials, or case studies that are required.
    • Take and pass the exam.

After you graduate and receive your certification, it will be time to start applying for jobs. You will be on your way to a career in Integrative and Functional Medicine-Nutrition. 

Hear from an Industry Expert

Industry Pathway:  Integrative and Functional Medicine-Nutrition

Bonnie Brock, NMD, MPH, RD, LDN, NBHWC

  • Program Director of Nutrition Oncology at John Patrick University
  • Naturopathic Doctor at Acacia Natural Medicine in Scottsdale, Arizona
  • Served as Nominating Committee Member (2020-2021) to the Dietitians for Integrative and Functional Medicine (DIFM) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

How do I get into this Industry?

I obtained a Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Biochemistry from Cornell University, a Master of Public Health from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and a Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine from National University of Health Sciences. As both a Registered Dietitian, National Board-Certified Health and Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC) and a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine, I recognize the body’s inherent ability to heal itself once the underlying causes of illness are identified and removed.  

What Certifications do I need in this industry?

States vary on scope of services and practices within the field of integrative and functional medicine. It is always best to review the specific state on laws and rules as each state is permitted to interpret and define scope of services for their residents. It is recommended to earn the following board certifications: ACE Health Coach, Certified Clinical Nutritionist, Certified Food & Nutrition Educator, and Diplomate of Lifestyle Medicine.

What degrees or education pathways should I take?

It would be best to complete a master’s degree in Integrative and Functional Medicine.  MS degrees can last from 16 months – 24 months.  

Translating my military experience specifically for this industry

Many universities will transfer in previous college credits or military experience to meet the common general education classes.

Entry-level/mid-level experience I need for this industry:

Experience and college coursework in Anatomy & Physiology, Biochemistry, Biology, Chemistry and Microbiology are highly recommended to understand the base of integrative health. Completing advanced coursework in Herbal Medicine, Natural Medicine, Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine at a master’s degree or higher is advised as this well allow a deeper understanding of integrative health and wellness. 

How do you advance in this industry?

The field of integrative and functional medicine is broad. One can go into private health coaching to working at the state level in public health. It is imperative to earn board certifications as an ACE Health Coach, Certified Clinical Nutritionist, Certified Food & Nutrition Educator, and Diplomate of Lifestyle Medicine to differentiate yourself as a qualified and competent clinician/consultant/coach or educator. 

What are they looking for from me to communicate in an interview?

A conferred and accredited advanced degree in integrative health/functional medicine is preferred. This showcases you have advanced your training within the growing field. 

Tips and tricks to getting into this industry:

The industry is growing and being redefined every day. As more clients and patients are in search of natural healing solutions it would be best to work or shadow Health Coaches, Registered Dietitians (trained in integrative and functional medicine), Chiropractors, and Naturopathic Doctors would give a great foundation. 

What can I do while still in the service to prepare for this industry once I get out?

If you have the opportunity to take general education science college courses (Anatomy & Physiology, Biochemistry, Biology, Chemistry and Microbiology), this will allow you to focus on the core courses in your studies.  

What is the work-life balance like in this industry?

Because the industry of integrative health is continuing to grow, one can work fully online, part-time/hybrid or full-time in a clinic or public health setting. The balance can come from only working part-time to being one’s own boss. The best part of this growing field of integrative and functional medicine, you decide what is best for you and your life, career and goals.


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