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How to Become a Nutritionist

By Yann, published on 19/10/2018 We Love Prof > Health and Fitness > Nutrition > Becoming a Nutritionist in the United Kingdom

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine thy food.” -Hippocrates

Hippocrates was a Greek physician born in 460 BC who was extremely ahead of his time. He knew the positive effects of adopting a healthy diet and letting carefully chosen food items to provide us with the essential nutrients to stay healthy.

Medicine at young ages would be unnecessary due to the fact that nutritious food would give us the power to prevent life-threatening diseases. 

In today’s world more and more people are seeking the helpful advice of nutritionists. This is mainly a consequence of the facts that people are suffering from more illnesses than ever before and have begun to take a keen interest in their health to prevent diseases from developing.

Nutritionists and dietitians have undergone training to become experts in health. They have a passion for healthy eating, planning meal programs and helping clients reach their health goals. These professional skills are accompanied by outstanding communication, organization and motivation abilities.

The best nutritionists can inspire clients to drop poor eating habits and adopt a healthy diet. 

If during your last years of secondary school you came to the realization that becoming a nutritionist is your calling, Superprof is here to guide you through the steps needed to become a qualified nutritionist.

What Qualifications are Needed to Become a Nutritionist in the United Kingdom?

While there are very few nutritionists working today who do not possess previous qualifications, the majority have undergone nutrition education courses or programmes to attain BSc degree in nutrition.

In order to be eligible to compete for the best nutrition jobs, you need to possess an undergraduate degree that is approved by the distinguished Association for Nutrition (AfN). According to the AfN website, there are currently 55 undergraduate courses accredited and 32 postgraduate programmes.

Some of the approved programmes specialize in different subject areas such as Human Nutrition, Animal Nutrition, Nutrition and Food Science, Public Health Nutrition and Nutrition and Exercise. These different courses equip nutritionists will the required skills to excel in their specialized nutrition career.

After completing a 3-year programme to attain a degree in nutrition, many employers looking for nutritionists in the private sector expect applicants to be registered by the UK Voluntary Register of Nutritionists (UKVRN). This is the only register recognized by Public Health England and National Health Services.

It is important to note that preparation for required qualifications should take place in the last few years of secondary school. For example, in order to be accepted by a university to study nutrition, many courses demand two or three A-Level subjects in biology or chemistry and 5 GCSEs in subjects such as English language, maths and science.

Nutritionists who possess all the necessary qualifications instil confidence in their clients.

How Much Money Does a Nutritionist Make?

Salaries for nutritionists greatly depend on previous skills, work experience and level of expertise.

General Nutritionists

For example, nutritionists who have recently undergone training in a general nutrition programme can expect to earn a starting yearly salary of approximately £15,000 to £25,000. With a few years of experience and skills refined through practice, general nutritionists can expect to see a yearly salary that is between £30,000 and £55,000.

General nutritionists working in the public sector do not make as much money per year as those working in the private sector. However, work is more stable in the early years due to a constant client base.

Public Health Nutritionists

Public Health nutritionists work in schools, hospitals, nursing homes or the office of a practitioner. Nutritionists working in this profession can expect to make between £15,000 and £25,000 starting out depending on the job position and location. With time and seniority, nutritionists working in Public Health may accept jobs in senior roles such as principal lecturer or chair of public health with salaries expected to be between £45,000 and £80,000.

Sports Nutritionist

After receiving their university certification in sports nutritionist, a fitness nutritionist can expect to make a minimum salary of £21,500 in the public sector.

However, in the private sector, sports nutritionists can accept contracts working for professional athletes and sports teams and make a lot more money. It is not uncommon for sports nutritionists working in these jobs to make nearly six-figure salaries.

Nutritionists Working in the Private Sector

In the private sector, nutritionists are most commonly paid by the hour or the project. For example, those starting out usually charge £45 to £75 for an initial consultation that lasts between 60 and 90 minutes and £30 to £50 for follow-up appointments that last 30 to 40 minutes in order to see how everything is going.

Nutritionists in this sector also charge clients between £30 and £50 for personalized meal plans. All in all, nutritionists in the private sector make a great deal more of money with yearly salaries estimated between £50,000 and £75,000 for nutritionists who have a loyal client base.

Where Can You Work as a Nutritionist?

making healthy choices at school Nutritionists find work in the public sector in school and hospital cafeterias making sure that all food items served and delicious and healthy. (Source: Visual Hunt)

After receiving all the necessary credentials from postsecondary studies, nutritionists can decide to work in the public or private sector.

Nutritionists working in the public sector find jobs in various settings. Here are some of the potential workplaces for nutritionists in the public sector:

  • Hospitals: nutritionists working in hospitals work closely alongside registered dietitians to provide health advice to various demographics such as nursing mothers, children and the elderly. While working in the field of clinical nutrition, nutritionists provide information about new food items that need to be implemented into the diets of clients who are suffering from severe health problems.
  • Schools: nutritionists effectively communicate with cafeteria staff to implement new recipes that are healthy, delicious and simple to make. They may also create workshops and deliver classroom presentations to encourage young pupils to make healthy choices.

The aforementioned places are just two of the most common workplaces for nutritionists in the public sector, there are many others.

On the other hand, nutritionists working in the private sector can personally help clients with their dietary needs and nutritional questions by offering private consultations.

Here are some of the most common areas of work for privately working nutritionists:

  • Private practice and consulting: those working in the private sector help clients by creating personalized weight loss programmes, meal plans and nutrition therapy. Private consultations can cost between £50 and £150 for the initial session.
  • In fitness centres: a free consultation with a qualified nutritionist is often provided to new clients. During this consultation session, clients express their weight loss or muscle gain goals and nutritionists provide helpful information to have them meet their goals.

Whether working in the public or private sector, the best jobs are more likely offered to nutritionists who have great communication skills and possess the ability to effectively motivate others.

Nutrition Courses: Where to Study Nutrition

In order to become a registered nutrition approved by the Association for Nutrition (AfN), a nutrition training course needs to be studied. Thankfully there are various universities across the United Kingdom offering 3-year programmes in nutritional training.

Here are some of the different courses available and examples of the universities offering them:

  • General Nutrition: King’s College London and the University of Leeds offer recommended 3-year programmes in this field of nutrition. Students need at least 360 credits to graduate and different subjects such as Food Habits, Metabolism and Biology of Cancer are studied.
  • Human Nutrition: the University of Chester and London’s South Bank University offer courses designed for students who are interested in the power of food and the ability it has to prevent poor health. After passing all modules and completing all essential coursework, students receive a Bachelor’s degree (BSc) in Human Nutrition.
  • Public Health Nutrition: Sheffield Hallam University offers a 3-year programme in Public Health nutrition costing UK residents £9,250 per year. This course equips students with all the necessary skills and knowledge needed to excel at jobs in the public sector.
  • Nutrition and Food Science: if food research and clinical nutrition interests you, the University of Reading has a 3-year programme analyzing different modules to become equipped in this specialized area of nutrition. Students learn how to understand major dietary issues such as obesity and learn about food safety or new product development.

All of the aforementioned courses accredit students with a BSc degree in a specialized area of nutrition.

How to Find Clients as a Nutritionist

find a nutritionist online Facebook is a great tool to use in order to find potential clients for your privately owned nutrition business. (Source: Visual Hunt)

There is a quite a difference between nutritionists working in the public and private sector and how they find clients.

For example, in the public sector, nutritionists are hired by employers who assign them a list of clients in hospitals or groups of people that need to undergo a nutrition education workshop or seminar in communities and schools.

There is rarely a need to advertise themselves in order to find new clients. 

On the other hand, nutritionists working in the private sector who have their own private practice need to use social media and the internet to advertise their services and find potential clients.

Taking an active interest, answering questions about food and nutrition and participating in conversations on Facebook pages that interest people who want to improve their health will attract clients, instil confidence in your skills and improve your credibility. After answering a few key questions, many interested ones may visit your own Facebook business page and book a consultation.

In today’s world, it is essential to have a stylish website or internet page to allure potential clients and provide them with all the basic information they need to know before their initial consultation. Alice Mackintosh, a nutritionist based in London, has a beautiful and informative website that is worthy of imitation.

Remember when starting out as a privately based nutritionist, it is important to charge fees that are below the competition’s in order to give you that extra edge with customers who are shopping for a nutritionist. 

How to Become a Nutritionist Without a Degree

While it is highly recommended to attend university and obtain a BSc degree in a specialized area of nutrition and dietetics due to the fact that clients are allured by nutritionists who possess qualifications, it is not mandatory to find work as a nutritionist.

Without a degree and relevant experience, it is nearly impossible to be eligible for a job position in the public sector.

Nevertheless, that does not mean that starting your own private practice or working in one is out of reach. There are various nutritionists who are popular and skilled working in the UK who have not attended a postsecondary training course to acquire a degree.

After seven years of relevant experience are demonstrated, the Association for Nutrition (AfN) approves you as registered nutritionists and views this previous knowledge as an equivalence to a Bachelor’s degree in nutrition.

The British Nutrition Foundation offers various online training courses on their website to equip aspiring nutritionists with the basics. Courses range from 2-12 hours of instruction that can be undergone at your own pace and courses are priced between £35 and £125.

The training course that is titled, Exploring Nutrition and Health, is even registered and approved by the AfN.

Other courses are titled, Catering for Health, Introduction to Healthy Eating and Nutrition and Food Labelling and Health Claims.

How to Become a Sports Nutritionist

becoming the best with healthy nutrition Nutritionists work with professional athletes to help them perform their best by introducing nutritious food items into their diets. (Source: Visual Hunt)

Sports nutritionists are passionate about sports and helping athletes perform at their best. Sports nutritionists understand the effects food has on the food and what is needed for the best execution.

They create diets and health plans to aid professional athletes from reputable sports teams improve their stamina, endurance and post-workout recovery. Nutritionists and dietitians working in the sports field need to be extremely qualified to meet athletes nutritional needs and in order to avoid making diet mistakes that could cost them the gold medal.

Therefore, in order to become correctly qualified, aspiring sports nutritionists need to attend an approved undergraduate training programme from the Association for Nutrition (AfN) in sports and exercise nutrition.

Here are two universities in the UK offering sports nutrition programmes:

  • Manchester Metropolitan University: this school offers a 3-year full-time or 4-year sandwich programme that equips students with all the information they need to become qualified sports nutritionists. In this course, that costs £9,250 per year for UK or EU based students, pupils study the global trend of manipulating athlete’s nutrient intake to enhance performance and overall wellness.
  • University of Westminster: if after finishing your 3-year BSc programme in sports nutrition you wish to continue your education and attend a postgraduate programme to have more alluring qualifications for professional sports teams, this is the programme for you! This 1-year course instructs pupils about course subjects such as Advanced Performance Nutrition, Assessment of Health and Fitness and Principles of Human Nutrition.

After reading through the past seven subheadings you are completely informed about how to become a nutritionist in the United Kingdom!

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