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How To Become a Nutritionist

An Extensive Guide to the Nutritionist Profession

Anyone that is looking for a rewarding career change that will see them having a significant impact on their client's lives, might just be interested in becoming a nutritionist. If there is ever a time for the world to need nutritionists, it is now as obesity levels and the average state of the health of people all across the world is at an all-time low.


Junk food, hectic work and life schedules, the reliance on cars rather than getting exercise and then habits such as drinking and smoking are really having a negative impact on the health of billions of people. Nutritionists are needed more than ever to help to change the way people think and how they treat their bodies on a daily basis.


Nutrition is among the fastest growing industries in the world and there is a huge demand for nutritionists on a global scale. This demand is due to the need for us to address our health concerns and our eating habits in a world where convenience and instantaneous satisfaction is regarded more important than our own personal health.

Fruit and Weight

You will have to have a keen interest in health, fitness and nutrition and continually want to learn more about food and the science that is behind it. Those interested will also have to have good organisation skills, communication skills and be the type of person that is understanding, sympathetic and is able to motivate and guide the people that are crying out for your help. If you are the type of person that takes delight in helping others and has a non-judgemental attitude, becoming a nutritionist could be the perfect role for you.


If you thinking you have what it takes to be the difference in somebody’s life and to be able to give them the help and guidance required for their health and diet, you should carry on reading this guide to learn to learn more about the role of a nutrition, how much you can expect to paid, how you go about becoming one and the many courses that can put you on the right path to landing this new career.

What is a Nutritionist?

A nutritionist is somebody that that can help to provide information and advice regarding food, diet and health. Generally, a nutritionist will work with people who are of good health whether in a face-to-face setting with individuals or in a group setting with a number of attendees.


Working with a diverse range of clients, the primary goal of a nutritionist is to offer information on health, nutrition and diet that will educate, guide and motivate your clients into leading a healthier lifestyle. Each client will be different and will have their own goals that a nutritionist will use to tailor a specific set of goals for that individual.


Nutritionists can specialise in a number of different areas such as nutritional therapy, sports nutrition, weight management and diet and nutrition. Each nutritionist will be an expert in nutritional science and will be able to use their knowledge to better inform their patients about different foods, their nutritional benefits and what a good diet can mean for the human body. 


While a nutritionist does not have to be a super-fit person, leading by example is very important in this occupation. They should be proud of the healthy lifestyle that they lead and become a true role-model for their clients to look up and aspire to.

Apple and Water

What Does a Nutritionist Do?

Nutritionists will usually be found working non-clinical settings and are there to use their expertise to provide help and advice on nutrition and diet. They are often seen working for both government and non-government organisations in industries such as:

    • Education
    • Research
    • Food production
    • Media
    • Sporting institutions, authorities and teams
    • NHS or health organisations
    • Local authorities
 
 

Additionally, on occasions, they can work in a freelance capacity and offer their knowledge through consultations. This could be done full-time or in a part-time environment whilst also working in a professional capacity at the same time.

There are a number of specialist sub-categories that a nutritionist could explore and these include working in public health, sports and exercise, nutritional science, food and animal nutrition. Due to there being many different areas of work in the field of nutrition, your responsibilities could be anything from:

    • Performing nutritional research projects
    • Finding and recruiting suitable volunteers to participate in trials
    • Supporting people either individually, as communities or workforces, in making practical changes to their eating habits
    • Developing and analysing menus for various groups such as schools, sports teams, and restaurants within the workplace
    • Providing advice to sporting professionals on the foods and diet that can aid their performance and also put them on the road to recovery from injury
    • Providing specialist advice to particular groups such as children or the elderly with regards to eating healthily
    • Helping food production companies to verify and gain approval for the health claims placed on packaging
    • Providing nutritional advice and guidance via the media, online authorities, webinars and social media


Due to nutritionists not being governed by law, just about anyone can claim to be a nutritionist. However, to become a registered nutritionist, a person would have to be accepted and registered as on the UK Voluntary Register of Nutritionists (UKVRN). This will normally require a BSC or MSc in a nutritional science as well as having a minimum of three years of professional experience


However, becoming a nutritionist that is not registered is a much easier path and means that as long as you have done any sort of nutritionist course such as a sports nutrition diploma, you will be able to call yourself a nutritionist and offer your advice and services as you see fit.


Many nutritionists also get themselves registered with the Association for Nutrition (AfN) which usually requires at least a degree or postgraduate on nutrition or seven years experience working as a professional in the nutrition industry.

 
 

What is the difference between a dietician and a nutritionist?

While there are many similarities between dieticians and nutritionists in that they are both experts on the science behind food, there are actually a number of differences between the two professions.


The main two differences between nutritionists and dieticians are that the latter is governed by law and are permitted to work with and treat patients with certain medical conditions. They are classed as qualified health professionals whereas nutritionists are not despite their excellence and expertise int heir field. Nutritionists, on the other hand, are the opposite and do not require to be registered by law and almost anyone can have the title of Nutritionist as long as they have completed a certain level of education in the area.


Additionally, a nutritionist does not have the ability to be able to treat, diagnose or prescribe medication for any health conditions. They do, however, have permission to suggest certain supplements for their clients as long as no medical prescription is required. The only occasion where a nutritionist is allowed to work closely with acutely ill patients is when there is a regulated healthcare professional in attendance to provide supervision.


While nutritionists are not required by law to become registered, their career aspirations will have a greater chance of being met if they were to become a registered nutritionist with the UKVRN. Qualifying for registration on the UKVRN requires nutritionists to have studied an accredited course or that they can prove without a doubt that they have a high level of knowledge in the field of nutrition.  

 

Where to Find a Nutritionist?

If you are looking for a nutritionist, there are a number of ways in which you can do so. Before even starting your search, you should make sure that you know the type and specialisations that you are looking for in your nutritionist.


One of the easiest methods when it comes to finding a good nutritionist is to ask your doctor or other healthcare professionals that will be able to point you in the right direction. They would have worked with nutritionists on countless occasions and will be able to put you in touch with those that they feel are the best for your situation.
You could also check out websites such as the Association for Nutrition (AfN) who will be able to give you the contact details of nutritionists in your area. Nutritionists that they recommend will usually have received a level of training that they approve of.


Your other options are to search for one manually by either looking through physical directories such as the yellow pages or by doing an internet search that should bring up plenty in your area. Make sure you do your research, however, to ensure that you pick one that is not only cost-effective but is also trained adequately in the areas that you seek.


If all else fails, one final option you have is to ask your friends and family for any recommendations that they may have. You will be surprised at just how many of them would have had dealings with nutritionists in the past and will be able to point you in the right direction.

How Much Does a Nutritionist Earn?

How much you can earn as a nutritionist will depend on the particular path you have chosen as well your location, skills and experience. Nutritionists are often expected to work weekends and evenings on occasions so you should factor this in if you are seriously considering making the jump into this field.


Most nutritionists will start on salaries of between £15,000 and £25,000 if they were to work in the public sector and from between £20,000 and £25,000 if in the private sector. After gaining experience over the years you can expect to land roles that will pay you salaries of between £30,000 and £55,000. Furthermore, you could eventually land senior roles after many years of solid professional experience that could see a salary of between £45,000 and £80,000.


If you went down the path of becoming a professional nutritionist that works in the National Health Service (NHS), you can expect to start on point 5 if Agenda for Change pay rates at a salary of £16,536 for about 37.5 hours a week. Any nutritionist that lives and works in a high-cost area such as London can expect additional pay on top of their base salary.


For each and every year working a nutritionist in the NHS, you can expect to climb the pay grade on the AfC with pay rates generally jumping up close to £500 per year.


Many nutritionists work independently as well if they are able to market themselves sufficiently in a freelance consultancy role as part of either a team or as an individual. In setting such as this, nutritionists can earn anywhere between £25 and £80 an hour. Total earnings will obviously depend on how many clients they have, how many hours they are willing to work, their current location and the rate that they chose to work for.


Self-employed nutritionists will generally charge between £45 and £75 for an initial consultation. Further sessions will then fall into the £30 to £50 bracket while additional charges will usually be made for things like a diet analysis report which will generally be charged at around the £40 mark.


In order to maximise your earnings whether as a self-employed freelancer or for health agencies such as the NHS, it is always a good to continually improve your knowledge on nutritional science and perhaps even branch out into more specialist areas such as working with pregnant women, children or athletes.

Girl eating a watermelon

Career Advancement Opportunities

As a nutritionist, there are many different directions that you can go in career-wise and the path that you do take will obviously depend on your own interests. Especially once you become a registered nutritionist, your options will really open up and will also allow you to work independently alongside clients whether individuals or groups, in a specialist area that you have chosen.


Registered nutritionists will eventually be able to work at a senior level too, should they decide to work in the NHS, education or commercial sector. A good example could be that with a team of nutritionists working under you, you could be providing advice and guidance to the government about nutrition.


If you decide to go down the sports nutrition path, you could eventually find yourself with a leading position at a huge sports club such as a football club, rugby club or even as a senior nutritionist at a sporting body such as the FA or FAI. You could also opt to operate your own business and go self-employed offering your services on a consultancy basis, once you have attained enough experience in your field. Either that, or you could have opportunities to practise your expertise in developing countries when heading up community projects

.
Your options for career advancement are boundless and you can really expand in the direction of your choosing. 

Steps to Becoming A Nutritionist

Once you have decided to take the step into becoming a nutritionist, there are a number of steps that you will have to take to achieve your new dream. While these steps might seem quite extensive and daunting, they really aren’t as you literally just need to take a course or two in the areas that you want to explore.

    • Step 1 – Determine if nutrition is really a career that you want to break into. While it can be very rewarding helping others, this career is not for everyone. Do you have an interest in the science behind food and nutrition?
    • Step 2 – Establish whether you have the personal skills that you will need to succeed as a nutritionist. These include having excellent communication skills, an understanding attitude, strong motivational skills and being well organised.
    • Step 3 – Decide which particular area or specialisation that you would prefer to work in such as sports, veterinary, research, weight loss or with children or the elderly.
    • Step 4 - Find and enrol in a course that will allow you to get started on learning and becoming qualified for your chosen area. Diplomas such as the following would be among what you should be taking an interest in, Diet and Nutrition, Nutrition and Weight Management or Diet Nutrition & Exercise for Children.
    • Step 5 – Once qualified to a level you feel comfortable, you will either need to find a job or go self-employed. Choosing the latter will require you to have your own consultation room which could be out of your own home or a rented office space.
    • Step 6 – Market yourself if you have decided to go self-employed. Without marketing and letting people know about your skills and services, you are not going to get far. So make sure you advertise both online and offline about what you can provide for your clients.

 

As mentioned previously, your career can expand into so many directions of your choosing as you pick up experience and more qualifications as you go. There are boundless opportunities and the chance to really further your career as you gain experience.

 

Summary

Nutritional advice is something that the world and its inhabitants is really crying out for right now and the demand for nutritionists is at an all-time high. This makes it a very attractive career choice for anyone that is interested in healthy eating, helping others with their eating habits and the science behind food.


Working as a nutritionist can be a highly rewarding career both financially and through the satisfaction will you get from educating, guiding and helping others in leading a healthier lifestyle and understanding what they are putting in their mouths on a daily basis. You will also learn to lead a much healthier life yourself and will be able to ensure that your family and friends do the same through the free advice that you give them as well.


Another appealing aspect of getting into nutrition is that there are so many different areas of specialisation. This opens up the profession to so many different types of people with different interests. If you are into sports science and fitness you can go that route, if you prefer to work on the nutrition for animals, you can ho that way instead. You could even enhance your education in multiple directions to really further widen your net and expand on your expertise.


Hopefully, this guide has proven valuable to you if you have been wanting to learn more about the role of a nutritionist or have been thinking of having a career in on of the many different fields of nutrition.