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How to become a nutritionist

How to become a nutritionist
Photo: How to become a nutritionist
Are You Interested In Becoming A Nutritionist?

Over the last twenty years or so, there has been a strong shift in food awareness as people want to be healthier and live longer. Yet at the same time more and more people are becoming obese. In addition there is greater research to suggest that the foods we eat can either hinder or help certain illnesses that we have. As such there's a real need for professionals who can educate others with regard to nutritional concepts and to help with general well-being. This is where a nutritionist comes in.

So what does a nutritionist do?

Nutritionists help people to detect food sensitivities, allergies or eliminate bad eating practices by testing and educating. They may also recommend certain foods or diets based on a process of monitoring and evaluation. In addition, a nutritionist may also be called upon to create specialized diets for those who are looking to obtain maximum fitness, or those in hospital suffering from problems such as IBS, Gluten Intolerance or Diabetes.
Different areas of nutrition

A qualified nutritionist is very much in demand and as can specialise and work in many areas. Here are some examples...
  • Clinical nutritionist  - Deals with how certain foods hinder or help types of diseases and illnesses. Part of their job is to create special diets to aid physical well-being and get the patient on the road to recovery. Another part is to evaluate a patient's eating habits and advise the patient to make any changes that could otherwise be detrimental to their health.
  • Public Health and Community nutritionist  - Improving the health of communities by educating and promoting healthy eating habits and foods. They are also involved in the planning, implementation and evaluation of food policies
  • Food industry nutritionist – Using their skills to help develop healthy products for the consumer and feeding back nutritional research to food companies
  • Fitness nutritionists – Responsible for giving people the right advice so that they can maximise their training goals whilst taking into account their food needs. A skilled nutritionist can work with professional athletes and sports people to help bring out the best in them by optimising their fitness levels.
How to become a nutritionist

What do I need to become a fully fledged nutritionist?

Currently, in New Zealand and Australia there are no strict laws over who can label themselves as a nutritionist. However you are far more likely to gain recognition if you are accredited. The best way to become qualified is to take an Advanced Diploma in Nutritional Medicine. The course lasts for three years and costs around $20,000. Clearly it's not particularly cheap, but qualified and accredited nutritionists are very much in demand the world over and anyone who takes and completes such a course is unlikely to be short of work in the future.

Aspects of the course include:
  • Nutrition
  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Biochemistry
  • Pharmacology
  • Communication and counselling
  • Clinical training
This course will give you the basic grounding for a qualification in nutrition. However many nutritionists will then go in to specialise in their areas of interest.

So where can a nutritionists be expected to work?

As it's such a varied job, nutritionists can work in a number of places including food production facilities, sports and fitness centres, health centres, public health units, universities, hospitals and outpatient care facilities to name but a few.

What's a typical salary for a nutritionist?

A nutritionist's salary can vary greatly depending upon location, experience, type of specialist work and type of employer. A newly qualified nutritionist working in a hospital for example will earn around $38,263, however a specialist nutritionist working within the sports industry could potentially earn around $76,978.

Conclusion

As the connection between food and health continues to grow then so will the demand for nutritionists. If you're looking for a varied and rewarding job and have an interest in food and food health, then this may well be the perfect career path for you.

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