If you’re passionate about being healthy, and helping others stay healthy too, a career as a Nutritionist could be your dream role. Working as a professional Nutritionist will require more than passion though - certain skills and qualifications are highly recommended to make it in this field.
As a Nutritionist, you’ll focus on a wholefood philosophy and use food as medicine to improve your client’s wellbeing, health, and quality of life. Nutritionists usually work in private practice, or at a health food store, pharmacy or fitness centre. Read more about the job description of a Nutritionist.
What technical & professional skills do I need to become a Nutritionist?
In order to provide accurate and quality nutritional advice and ensure public safety, it’s recommended that all practising Nutritionists undergo formal training.
Providing nutritional advice without the proper education presents extreme risks, as explained by qualified Naturopath and Nutritionist Daniel Roytas.
"Individuals without proper training will not be able to become members of professional bodies or associations, and therefore will not be able to be covered by professional indemnity or public liability insurance,” says Daniel.
In order to gain broad knowledge of the field of nutrition and apply for membership with professional bodies including ANTA, ATMS and ANPA, you'll need to study a ‘Level 6’ qualification, such as the Advanced Diploma of Nutritional Medicine (HLT61012). This course will equip you with a strong foundation in physiology, biochemistry, microbiology, and dietary modification.
If you’re interested in working as a Nutritionist in a clinical setting and becoming a classified professional, the minimum level of study required is a Bachelor degree in nutrition.
A qualification such as the Bachelor of Health Science (Nutritional Medicine) is focused on training you to become an effective primary health care practitioner with subjects including medical biochemistry, anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, and clinical diagnosis.
What if I have experience in a related field?
If you’re already working in a similar industry but want to specialise as a Nutritionist, look for a course that includes a compulsory work placement element so you can gain experience while studying.
"When you start working as a Nutritionist, it’s not just about your qualifications but also your experience,” says SEEK Learning Consultant Melinda Potente. “You need to know how to deal with people, to complement your theory work.”
Should I become a Nutritionist?
To be a successful Nutritionist, you will need to have:
- a passion for overall wellbeing
- an empathetic nature
- good communication skills
- an analytical mind
Melinda says it’s often people who have gone through their own health issues who are keen to make nutrition their career.
"We have a lot of mums interested in nutrition, who have found firsthand that food can help with certain issues,” she adds. Nutrition is also a common field for people who have worked in the fitness or lifestyle industry and are keen to continue helping people live better lives.
"You also have to be very good with people in general, because a big portion of your work involves assessing patients or clients using a more holistic approach,” Melinda explains. ”You need to build a rapport with the client to better assess the person and prescribe a tailored response.”