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How to Become a Professional Nutritionist: A Beginners Guide

We’ve all tried to eat healthily and follow a diet plan at some point in life. And the question of how to become a professional nutritionist must’ve crossed your mind. You must’ve wondered what exactly a professional nutritionist does? A nutritionist is someone who gives advice on food and nutrition and how it affects one’s health.  They are at the forefront of a patient’s wellbeing. 

They have a  professional understanding of food science. A nutritionist helps individuals and communities make the best food choices. As we are plagued with new strains of virus and diseases in recent times, there is a growing need for vigilance about our food intake.

To lead a disease-free, healthy lifestyle, we need to make good dietary choices. And a professional nutritionist can assist with it. If you are passionate about healthy diet and lifestyle choices, you can make a profession of it. And if you’re looking for guidance to embark upon your journey, you have come to the right place! 

This article will be your guide on how to become a professional nutritionist, so let’s get started.

Does a Nutritionist & a Dietician have the same job?

Many confuse a nutritionist’s designation with a dietician’s. The former profession is monitored and accredited by the Association for Nutrition, while a dietitian is a registered professional under the Health and Care Professions Council in the UK. In simple terms, as a nutritionist, you will be concerned with the prevention of diseases. In contrast, your counterpart, a dietician, handles the treatment of diseases.

Does a Nutritionist & a Dietician have the same job?

Before we begin how to become a professional nutritionist, let’s look into why should you become one? What’s in it for you to pursue a career in nutrition? Successful nutritionists explore food & dietary choices. They improve the quality of people’s lives.

A Professional Nutritionist

Does it sound like your cup of tea? Then keep on reading to build your career as a professional nutritionist.

Turn your passion for food into the profession

People are becoming more conscious of what they consume. In addition, where the food comes from and how food affects health are key concerns. You can transform your passion for helping others with a career in nutrition. Having a passion and interest in food science can make this profession a perfect fit for you. People might seek a career in this field after receiving life-changing guidance from a nutritionist.

You might be someone who has already been taking care of a nutrition plan for you and your family. Well, it is time to make money out of it.

Friendly & Female Domain

It has a relatively younger job market with a female-dominated workforce. Besides, almost half of the employees work part-time. This makes it a great choice to start a family while still having a job while having a flexible schedule. If that’s not your goal, it’s always good to have options. You can work in a supportive environment that prioritises work-life balance over the competition in this field.

At the NHS (National Health Services), nutritionists work around 38 hours every week. You can even work on weekends or have longer hours if you’re committed to a project. Rest assured, you will be compensated for picking up extra shifts at work.

Attractive Salary

As a nutritionist, your starting wage will be £25,000 on average in the public sector. Consequently, you can earn more in the private sector.

With further experience, you can earn between £30,000 and £55,000. Senior positions, such as principal lecturer or chair of public health, are paid between £45,000 and £80,000 a year. At NHS, nutritionists are paid as per the regulations of AfC (Agenda for Change). AfC states at entry-level, your salary will be under band 5. Still, with experience and further training, you can move up to band six and above. Band 6 and above has a pay range between £32,000- £70,000 as you move up the ladder.

If you want to be a self-employed nutritionist, the income will vary. For instance, individual consultation will bring £45 to £75 for initial appointments. It will be followed by £30 to £50 with each subsequent session as time passes. A recipe analysis could cost between £15 and £30, and a diet analysis study could cost between £30 and £50. Depending on the type of work you do, you’ll usually be paid hourly or per project. For instance, working with individuals, with industry, with local governments or research.

You can also mix up part-time work with freelancing to spruce up your portfolio.

Growth Opportunity

This is a comparatively new branch of the medical industry. The projected job opportunities in this field will rise in the coming future. The entire generation of baby boomer is ageing. Besides, Health care professionals are becoming more conscious of nutrition for disease prevention. Hence, your demand in the job sector will increase.

How to become a Professional Nutritionist?

There are no clear rigid criteria to become a nutritionist. On the other hand, employers normally expect you to be a member of the Association for Nutrition (AfN). AfN demands a bachelor’s degree or an equivalent accredited degree in nutrition science. Some degree programs in nutrition that  AfN approves are:

  • Nutrition & exercise
  • Nutrition & food science
  • Public health nutrition
  • Sports nutrition
  • Human nutrition
  • Animal nutrition
  • Global nutrition
Balanced nutrition

Via direct entry, graduates of an accredited nutrition degree are eligible to apply for ANutr. ANutr stands for Associate Nutritionist Registration. If your bachelor’s degree isn’t approved or is in a different science field, you can obtain an accredited master’s degree. Alternatively, you should send a portfolio entry to qualify for registration if you meet the prerequisites. 

Many employers also advertise for nutritionists registered with the UKVRN, which stands for the United Kingdom Voluntary Registry of Nutritionists. Besides, the nutritionists should get approval from the AfN.  Registration is not needed for other jobs. But, it is strongly encouraged to do so to keep your options open.

As a registered ANutr with the AfN or the UKVRN, demonstrates your dedication to the cause. It signifies your adherence to the AfN’s code of ethics, behaviour, and results. Besides, it denotes your knowledge and understanding of nutrition science.

What Qualifications Will You Need To Become a Professional Nutritionist?

Despite a good deal of misinformation out there, being a nutritionist without a B.Sc. (Hons) degree is possible. You can get your professional nutrition certificate online. But make sure a reputable course provider runs the course you participate in.  It is the most important thing to keep in mind if you plan to go this path. The course should cover a range of relevant material to help you learn.

Studying to become a nutritionist

A quality licence scheme endorses the course. It is the ultimate guide to becoming an expert nutritionist or adviser in the health and food industry. However, this is a non-accredited course. So, you will need to apply for associate registration after getting certified. Approved registration will prove your expertise, skills, and competence before your employer.

After demonstrating three or more years of experience across various competencies as an Associate Nutritionist, you will progress to become a Registered Nutritionist. Nutritionists with more than three years of experience who fulfil the knowledge, expertise, and competencies can apply for direct entry as a Registered Nutritionist by submitting a portfolio application.

Often, you can work as a nutritionist in the private sector without a degree with skills and training. You can also become a member of the Nutrition Society. You can update your expertise and network with those doing similar work. Connect with people by attending conferences hosted by the Nutrition Society. Membership is open to anyone with an interest in broad aspects of nutritional health.

Why opt for an Online Degree?

Although many science and healthcare programs require students to study on campus in a conventional program, you’ll have many choices if you choose to pursue a nutritionist degree online. It is also an attractive option considering financial efficiency. A three-year B.Sc. degree in Nutritional Science at a university will set you back for £30,000 on average.

Meanwhile, you can enrol on similar courses online for as low as £65. And learn all you need to for delving into the career. Furthermore, most of these courses are AFP certified, and Ofqual regulated, ensuring the employer of your degree’s credibility. Ofqual is a government agency that oversees all qualifications, including school assessments and exams in the UK.

In addition to being cost-friendly, an online degree is time convenient, and you won’t have to worry about juggling your academics and social life. However, make sure the course curriculum you are registering for has a completion duration of 6-8 months on average, as courses with a shorter period may leave out some essential modules of a qualified professional nutrition course.

Professional Nutritional Therapist

Become fully equipped to work as a nutritionist in the health industry, as an advisor or therapist in the food and health sector

Professional Nutritional Therapist

Become fully equipped to work as a nutritionist in the health industry, as an advisor or therapist in the food and health sector

Different Types of Career Speciality of a Nutritionist

Studying to be a nutritionist can open up several career opportunities in a variety of fields. You can work in the governmental public health sector or private facilities as per your interest. Some growth-oriented industries nutritionists are found in are:

Public Health Sector

In the public health sector, you will be responsible for providing health and nutrition education services on a national & international level. Working as a nutritionist in public health, you will develop food guidelines. You’ll be in charge of introducing new legislation, health promotion, and health preparation.

Sports Nutritionists

Sports nutritionists are responsible for administering nutrition counselling for individual athletes. You have to use your expertise in menu development plans. You will also provide nutrition education and nutrient-rich meal plans for teams, groups. Facilitating the athlete’s performance enhancement will be your key concern.

Food Industry

As an expert nutritionist in the food industry, you will be in charge of quality control. You must be familiar with and adhere to the existing food law and food safety. Working in the food industry also entails nutrition-related marketing. You might work in the public relations or customer education department of a company. 

You may work in the role of health professional educator or nutrition scientist.

Food Management in Nursing Home

Nutrition practitioners provide food services in clinics, aged care homes and hospitals. The nutritionist merges management skills with nutrition knowledge for the old and sick. You will also oversee health plans, guidelines, and nutrition services. Your job is to maximise health and nutritional benefits for every ward under your care. You can work in healthcare facilities like nursing homes and treatment centres.

Paediatrics

As a paediatric nutritionist, your job entails altering children’s eating patterns. You need to alert parents about healthy eating patterns to improve the child’s health.  You’ll be in charge of educating parents on the value of a healthy diet chart. Maintaining a diet chart is essential for the child’s proper development. You have to recommend diet plans to boost the health of children with diabetes or obesity. Extra care and caution are needed while dealing with children with special needs.

Private Facilities

In private practice, you will assist individuals in addressing their health needs. Besides, you have to help them set up fitness goals. You need to be mindful of the determining factors in an eating plan. Nutritional value, possible deficiencies and pre-existing health problems are all key factors. 

Most nutritionists in private practice specialise in weight loss or chronic disease management. Counselling, group activities, consultation, and writing for publication are more field choices.

Skills Required for a Successful Career

You must have analysis and problem-solving skills. You need to apply your expertise to particular patients and their unique needs. Besides, a basic knowledge of nutritional principles is required. As a nutritionist, you must also: 

  • Regularly develop new skills and retain existing ones. For instance, studying food patterns and keeping yourself posted with possible hazards.
  • Have a thorough understanding of food processing problems, such as the effects of pesticides on physical and mental health, GMOs and organic foods.
  • Have an explicit knowledge of nutrient and chemical absorption. Learn how it impacts physical and mental wellbeing.
  • Possess excellent communication skills to understand the ailment and provide comprehensive suggestions.

Nutritionist’s Tools and Technology

As a successful nutritionist, you will need various tools and technologies. Also, you need excellent training to carry out your duties responsibly & productively. You have to operate machines that give accurate and thorough details of the body’s state. For instance, hydrostatic weighing machines, glucometers, bioelectric impedance machines and calorimeters.

Nutritionist’s Tools and Technology

You can use medical software such as BioEx Systems’ Nutrition Maker Plus. It will help you analyse client data and provide an effective nutritional plan. Compu-cal Nutrition Assistant is another such medical software that you can use.

Quick tips for landing a job as Professional Nutritionist

After getting all the qualifications and accreditation, you need to hone your skills. You need to keep an eye on the job market so that you do not miss any good opportunity.  Here are a few quick tips to secure your position in the industry.

Keep your resume updated and ready

Before going out to look for a job, create a resume highlighting your career and academic profile. You should keep it short and avoid writing wordy paragraphs as many employers do not have time to read all of it. You can also look up the sample CV of the nutritionist online for guidance.

Does a Nutritionist & a Dietician have the same job?

Along with your resume, you need to create your career profile on as many job sites as you can. You have to always keep a lookout whether the companies are recruiting or not. Besides, you can also drop your resume in the desired company’s mailbox. You might get the first call in the recruiting season if your resume is on the top of the desk of the hiring committee.

Working in the Health Sector Level 1, 2 and 3

Enrol this course and Learn about all the requirements to succeed in the Health Sector with this Level 1, 2 and 3 combined course.

Working in the Health Sector Level 1, 2 and 3

Enrol this course and Learn about all the requirements to succeed in the Health Sector with this Level 1, 2 and 3 combined course.

Conclusion

As a nutritionist, you’ll work with people from diverse ranges and backgrounds. You must be empathetic and understanding of their situation. It is your duty to motivate them to change their eating habits. Fulfil your responsibilities with professionalism and integrity. In this industry, you have to take every opportunity to steer yourself toward your goal. If you have the grit to inspire people for a balanced life, then you’ll make a great professional nutritionist.

May 27, 2021

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