A Nutritionist uses scientific knowledge of food to help individuals and groups make choices about what they eat and help them determine if these are in fact appropriate for their health. As a nutritionist, a large proportion of your role will be to teach and inform individuals and professionals about nutrition and diets with an aim of promoting positive health and assisting in the prevention of disease. Nutritionists work with those who have poor eating habits or bad diets and help them learn about how to eat right and healthy options for doing so. Certain foods, poor eating habits and bad diet are sometimes associated with diabetes, obesity and heart disease. Nutritionists try to assist by working towards preventing or reducing the risk of these ailments. In this article on what can you do with a nutrition degree information has been given on the requisites of gaining an entry to this course as well as various job prospects.
Nutritionists may work alongside health care professionals such as nurses and dietitians. They may also work with other organistaions and agencies such as schools or voluntary groups.
Many institutions offer online nutrition degree programs. The degree can also be studied within recognised educational institutions who offer this program as a course option. The benefits of online courses are that they can be completed from the comfort of your home at a set pace according to your own circumstances.
The content of nutrition course will include teaching individuals how to assess clients, assist the development of diet plans and give an overall view of nutrition related matters such as knowledge in diet, fitness, nutrition, physiology, biochemistry. Recognised courses either online or within an institution should preferably be those that are accredited by reputed organizations.
There are a number of different entry routes to becoming a nutritionist. Most nutritionists have a recognised qualification with the most popular usually being a Degree or Masters. To become properly registered as a nutritionist, any route to achieve qualification should be one that is accredited by the relevant organisation for example, Association for nutrition (AfN).
There are usually a number of pre requisites to getting onto a nutrition degree course. These may include:
- Up to three A ‘Levels including biology or chemistry and also a minimum of five GCSE of which must be grade (A-C) inclusive of math’s and sciences
- NVQ in a relevant subject
- Other qualifications may be a BTEC, HND or HNC which should include biology or chemistry
Nutrition degree courses generally consist of introductory courses and cover subjects such as principles of nutritional science, nutritional assessment and trends in nutrition. These courses provide a good foundation for further education. Some courses include practical and written assignments such as assessing an individual’s health or even development of a diet plan. Specific courses may have different titles, including
- human nutrition
- public health nutrition
- nutrition and public health
- food and nutrition
There are a number of different degree levels for Nutrition such as an Associate, Bachelors, or Masters. The associate degree will include the introduction courses and cover a variety of nutrition related subjects and subject matter. These may include food and culture, principles of nutrition, and fitness. A bachelor’s degree will cover basic aspects and fundamentals that relate to nutrition as well as more advanced options and subjects. This degree will allow an individual to work as a nutritionist either as private practice or working for an organization. A Masters course acts an extension to the bachelor’s degree and covers even more advanced subjects and topics such as therapy and nutrition in relation to medical therapy and nutritional counselling. Organisations looking to employ a nutritionist with more than a Bachelor’s degree, more often than not will consider any applicant with masters degrees.
Nutritionists can work in a variety of different roles which may include:
- Own private practice
- Specific health projects
- Organisations in general
- Humanitarian Aid programs
In order to be effective as a nutritionist it is suggested that those undertaking the role have a specific knowledge understanding and skill set. For example, You need a keen interest in nutrition, ability to positively motivate and inspire others, understanding of different lifestyles and situations, understanding of science, good organisation skills and communication skills.
Nutritionists will require training for the job, which in some cases, involves introduction to a particular area or group.This is more relevant to those working in a nutritionist role within a particular community.
Nutritionists should apply to register with the Association for Nutrition (AfN). Others opt to become members of the Nutrition Society. Nutritionists need to ensure they keep their knowledge, training and skills up to date and relevant. Both AfN and the Nutrition Society offer additional and relevant training courses and conferences to enable nutritionists too update their skills and provide networking opportunities with others doing work of a similar nature.
Nutritionists use their knowledge of the science of food to help individuals and groups make the right choices about what they eat. This also ensures enthusiasm which is beneficial to have particularly when also trying to motivate others and having an understanding of different people and their circumstances or situations. Nutritionists need to explain things simply in order to assist individuals in their health problems.
Nutritionists need to be interested in science and food, stay positive and be able to motivate others. They should be able to explain complex things simply. They also need an understanding of science, organisational and communication skills.
Nutritionists working within the NHS are paid on the Agenda for Change (AfC) pay system. An initiative has been set up to recognise the importance of nutrition in improving lives of others requiring a nutritionist intervention. Typically salary would start on Face band 5, but will be dependent on individual job vacancies. Further training and experience equips individuals with knowledge and skills to apply for more senior positions at higher grades. Most nutritionists work standard hours, which are likely to be around 37 a week. This is not always the case and there may be a requirement for them to work some evenings or weekends. Working hours will always be dependent on the employer or nature and scope for example if working on a project. As an individual gains more experience, they may take on more senior roles in projects and departments that specialise in nutrition and related issues.