In this guide we’ll explore how to become a nutritionist, and answer the question, what degree do I need to be a nutritionist?
'If you're a foodie who loves motivating others, a career as a nutritionist could be right for you'
What is a nutritionist?
Nutritionists use their expert knowledge of food science to help groups of people and communities eat healthier. They do research into food and health so they’re able to improve people’s wellbeing. Their goal is to promote good health!
Nutritionists work for different organisations and in different areas, including:
- The NHS.
- The media.
- Food companies.
- Overseas aid projects.
- Scientific research.
- Their own private organisation/company.
Importantly, nutritionists are not the same as dieticians. Dieticians advise individual patients about their diets, often for medical conditions. Nutritionists don’t give dietary advice to individual patients.
What do nutritionists do?
The everyday tasks of a nutritionist could include:
- Giving talks on eating, health and wellbeing.
- Educating individuals and groups of people.
- Recruiting volunteers to take part in trials.
- Carrying out tests and research projects to test theories about food.
- Processing and analysing biological samples from research projects.
- Writing about healthy eating, for example creating guidelines for communities to help them eat better.
- Work with other health professionals like dieticians, pharmacists and doctors.
What skills do I need?
Is being a nutritionist right for you? Take a look at this list of skills and personal characteristics to find out.
- Excellent communication skills and the ability to relate to people from lots of different backgrounds.
- Able to present information clearly and simply.
- Empathetic and non-judgmental.
- Interested in science, health and food.
- Enthusiastic, positive and able to motivate others.
- Organisational skills.
- Entrepreneurial mindset (if you’d like to pursue freelance nutrition work).
What degree do I need to be a nutritionist? Tell me how to become a nutritionist.
In order to become a nutritionist, you must register on the Association for Nutrition’s UK Voluntary Register of Nutritionists. This is the official stamp of approval that tells everyone you’re a fully qualified nutritionist. It shows the world you have the skills and knowledge required to do the job.
To join the register, you need to have a degree that’s recognised by the AfN. You can check out the list of accredited degrees here. They include courses like nutrition; food marketing and nutrition; nutrition and food science.
After completing an accredited course, you’ll automatically become an ‘associate nutritionist’ on the register. Associate nutritionists can then move on to become ‘Registered Nutritionists’ after they get at least three years of experience.
To apply for a degree, you’ll usually need two or three A-levels including biology or chemistry, as well as give GCSEs at grade 4 or above including English, maths and science. But it’s important to check the entry requirements of the course you’re interested in.
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