Health and fitness writers are employed by newspapers, magazines, and book publishers; advertising agencies and public relations firms; radio and television companies; and journals and newsletters published by business and nonprofit organizations, such as the American Dietary Association and the American Council on Exercise. Other employers include government agencies and Web sites. However, most diet and fitness writers are self-employed, working as freelancers for various magazines, book publishers, and Web sites that focus on health and sports.
The major book and magazine publishers, broadcasting companies, and the federal government account for the concentration of writers in large cities such as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. Opportunities with small newspapers, corporations, and professional, technical, and trade publications can be found throughout the country.
A fair amount of experience is required to gain a full-time position as a diet and fitness writer. Most writers start out in entry-level positions. These jobs may be listed with college career services offices, or they may be obtained by applying directly to the employment departments of the individual publishers or broadcasting companies. Graduates who previously participated in internships often have the advantage of knowing someone who can give them a personal recommendation. Classified ads in newspapers and trade journals are another source for jobs. Because of the competition for positions, however, few vacancies are listed with public or private employment agencies.
In most cases, employers will want to see your resume as well as samples of your published writing. These samples are often assembled in an organized portfolio or scrapbook. Bylined or signed articles are more credible (and, as a result, more useful) than stories without an identified source.
Beginning positions as a junior staff writer usually involve research, preparation of rough drafts for part or all of a piece, cataloging, and other related writing tasks. These are generally carried on under the supervision of a more experienced writer or editor.
Diet and fitness writers may work in other fields full time and write on health or fitness topics in their free time. Once a writer is published, he or she can build a portfolio, gain a reputation as a writer, and possibly move into writing full time. Freelance or self-employed writers earn advancement in the form of larger fees as they gain exposure and establish their reputations.
Other diet or fitness writers find their first jobs as editorial or production assistants. Advancement may be more rapid in small companies, where beginners learn by doing a little bit of everything and may be given specialized writing tasks immediately. In large publishing houses or firms, duties are usually more compartmentalized. Assistants in entry-level positions are assigned such tasks as research, fact checking, and copywriting, and it generally takes much longer to advance to full-scale writing duties.
Promotion into positions of higher responsibility may come with the assignment of more important or specialized articles and stories to write, or it may be the result of moving to another employer. Mobility among employees in this field is common. An assistant in one publishing house may switch to an executive position in another. Or a writer may switch to a related job, such as personal trainer or dietitian, as a type of advancement.
Write for your high school's newspaper and yearbook if possible or start a blog.
To learn more about the fields of fitness and nutrition, participate in sports in school and take part in health clinics or workshops offered through your local parks district or other organizations.
While in high school take courses in English, literature, health, science, computer science, and typing to help you develop the skills needed to work as a writer.
Read books, magazines, and digital publications that cover health, dieting, fitness, and sports.
Ask your English teacher or school counselor to help you arrange a tour of your local newspaper office to experience the work environment firsthand and possibly talk to some of the writers who work there.