While you might have the ability to provide individual support and counseling on general wellness or nutrition, the position of wellness director mainly focuses on managing, coordinating and developing fitness and wellness programs and services. This includes a wide range of responsibilities, from creating a marketing strategy to training staff to overseeing the safety of facilities and their operations.
This position can exist within a variety of environments, such as a gym, college, hospital or health center. Ashley Bremer is a manager at the Phoenix VA Medical Center, where she is chief of outpatient nutrition operations. She oversees all programs in outpatient nutrition and counseling while also coaching staff on how to provide support. For Bremer, “deciphering relevant research, knowing what’s validated in the field, understanding how science changes … is where our role can really take care to the next level.”
Earning her online Master of Science in Nutritional Science (Dietetics) from ASU gave Bremer the ability to take classes that helped her make a bigger impact in her current position. She was also able to tailor the program to meet her future needs based on where she saw her career going.
Built on the scientific foundations of nutrition, the online MS in Nutritional Science (Dietetics) is a non-thesis program available to registered dietitians with at least one year of experience in the field. It’s geared toward those like Bremer who are seeking to continue their education and advance their skills as practitioners. Designed with working professionals in mind, the program offers both full-time and part-time options.
A typical day in the life of a wellness director
As a wellness director, you’re responsible for executing programs, advising people and conceptualizing projects that help keep people as healthy as possible. A typical day includes tasks in management, administration and support, but your ultimate job is to help people.
“I think the reward from working with the veteran population, regardless of what your role is, is that we have such a strong mission of serving those who have served us,” says Bremer in regard to her position at the VA hospital.
When not working directly with clients, a wellness director handles the day-to-day responsibilities of running a program, including:
- Conducting needs assessment or surveys to determine interest and satisfaction in future and existing programs.
- Developing a marketing strategy to effectively promote programs and services.
- Ensuring safety of facilities (especially if employed at a health or fitness center).
- Managing, training and supervising staff.
- Preparing and implementing budgets.
A closer look at the professional landscape for a wellness director
A considerable amount of work-related experience and knowledge, along with at least a bachelor’s degree, is often required for individuals applying for wellness director positions, according to O*Net Online.
The median salary in 2016 for wellness directors, according to O*Net Online, was around $78,000. By 2024, the site estimates that there will be 12,500 job openings in this field.
Wellness directors may elect to transition into upper-level variations of their position as a step up in their career.
Becoming a wellness director
While most employers look for wellness directors to have a bachelor’s degree in health education or a related discipline, according to Career Trend.com, earning a graduate degree may improve your chances of getting a position at a major corporation or government entity. Having a strong educational background in this field can open up a greater list of professional possibilities. For Bremer, earning her Master of Science in Nutritional Science (Dietetics) from ASU helped her continue on the professional path she’d already begun by allowing her to be more confident as she moved forward.
Depending on your type of employer, there may also be additional requirements for eligibility. For example, if you were to work in a gym or health and fitness center, you could be required to get certified in personal training, nutrition or another related field.
The soft skills needed to be successful as a wellness director center around communication, says Bremer. Since she works in an outpatient setting, communication plays a huge part in her role, especially when helping patients understand they are at the center of their care. Other key skills focus on the management side of the position — although effectively communicating with colleagues and employees is essential too — including being highly organized. Managing an entire program from inception includes handling details related to people, budget, marketing, equipment and more. With so many aspects to coordinate, being able to keep everything organized and running smoothly is imperative for success.
Learn more about your potential career as a wellness director
Taking your knowledge and work experience as a registered dietitian to the next level may require you to revisit your educational background. For a career as a wellness director, having a graduate degree can potentially open you up to opportunities with organizations you had not considered working with previously.
The online Master of Science in Nutritional Science (Dietetics) at Arizona State University reinforces essential skills for those interested in becoming a wellness director, including project management, interpretation of research literature, critical inquiry and problem-solving. Offered through the College of Health Solutions and committed to a rigorous and high-caliber education, this online master’s program keeps students’ learning preferences in mind when crafting a versatile and adaptable program to help you further your education in health science.