How to Become a Nutritionist in the UK
Becoming a Nutritionist Via a Degree
To work as a nutritionist with the NHS or a local authority you must do an accredited degree or post graduate qualification in either nutrition or public health nutrition. Alternatively if you have a dietetics degree or post graduate degree, you could choose to apply for nutritionist jobs as well. Because these qualifications are science based, the degree is known as a BSc (Bachelors of Science) and a post graduate degree as an MSc (Masters of Science).
The Association for Nutrition has a list of accredited degrees and post graduate qualifications for nutritionists which includes:
In Scotland - Robert Gordon University - BSc (Hons) Nutrition, Queen Margaret University - MSc in Public Health Nutrition
In Northern Ireland – University of Ulster - BSc (Hons) Human Nutrition and MSc Human Nutrition
In Wales – Cardiff Metropolitan University - BSc (Hons) Public Health Nutrition
In England –Bath Spa University -BSc (Hons) Human Nutrition, University of Reading - MSc Nutrition and Food Science.
There are nutrition degrees which aren't accredited and it is possible to work as a nutritionist with them either as an assistant within the NHS or in industry depending on the job specification.
How to Become a Nutritionist if You are Still at School
1) GCSEs – you will be expected to have at least 5 GCSE’s grade A-C including English, Maths and Double award Science. This will enable you do A Levels, A BTEC National Diploma or an equivalent level qualification.
2) Level Three Qualifications – to get onto an accredited Nutrition degree you would need to study at least three A-levels including Biology and one other based subject – ideally chemistry. An alternative would be a BTEC National Diploma in science or equivalent.
3) Degree - entry requirements at the different universities offering an accredited nutrition degree range from CCD – ABB if you’re studying A levels or MMM-DMM if you’re studying a National Diploma.
Career Change - How to Become a Nutritionist if You are an Adult
1) If you already have a science based degree in a subject other than nutrition, you could apply for an MSC in nutrition. Some universities will consider applications from adults without a science degree but with experience of working in an area related to nutrition.
2) If you don’t have a degree, or relevant experience and have been out of education for more than 5 years, you could apply for an ‘Access to Higher Education’ course aimed at people wanting to go into science based degrees. Access courses are offered by many local further education colleges and you would usually study part time over 1 or 2 years. To get on an access course you would be expected to have GCSE maths, English and science. If you don’t have these GCSEs a lot of local colleges offer these as evening classes for adults.
How to Become a Nutritionist without a Degree
It is possible to get into some nutritionist type jobs without a degree – for example, I have seen posts advertised for dietetic assistants in the NHS which require a minimum of a level 3 qualification e.g. A-levels and ideally experience of working within healthcare. I have also seen jobs advertised for food technologists in the food and beverage industries which also require a minimum level 3 qualification ideally in science based subjects..
How to Become a Registered Nutritionist
It isn’t compulsory to become a registered nutritionist with the Association for Nutrition in order to work as a nutritionist, but some employers do include it as a requirement in their job specifications. If you gain an accredited Nutrition degree you can become an Associate member, gaining full registration status after three years’ experience. People with 7 or more years’ experience of working as a nutritionist without having a degree can also apply for registered status.
Some Useful Extra Reading about Nutrition
How to Make Yourself Standout as a Fledgling Nutritionist
Whether you are planning to become a nutritionist via a degree based or work based route; it is important to start keeping up to date with research relating to nutrition and current affairs relevant to the food industry. Doing this will make it easier for you to explain why you want to do the job/degree in applications and will be invaluable if you are asked for interview because you will have knowledgeable answers to a wide range of questions.
- Read a broadsheet newspaper regularly - these often have news relating to food especially in the health section but often in the business section as well, which is especially worth checking out if you plan to work in industry.
- Visit the NHS news website and the British Nutrition Foundation for more in depth articles and analysis so that you can understand whether the nutritional information the public are reading in newspapers is based on sound science and research.
- Online research can be backed up by borrowing nutrition textbooks from your local library – you will probably have to order them, to give you a taste of the subject and some knowledge of the fundamentals of nutrition. This will also help you confirm whether nutrition really is the career for you.
Additional Sources of Information
- UCAS - Home
search for degrees in nutritionist and find out the entry requirements.
- British Nutrition Foundation
Nutritional information for the lay person and a good starting point if you have an interest in nutrition.
- Welcome to The Nutrition Society | The Nutrition Society
Nutritional news and research
- Association for Nutrition :: Home
The Official Association for Registered Nutritionists
- Nutritionist Careers in the UK
Nutritionist careers in the UK considers the difference between a nutritionist, nutritional therapist and a dietitian. It looks at the role of a nutritionist and employment as a nutritionist within the NHS, industry and elsewhere.