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Career as a Nutritionist

Who is a nutritionist?

A nutritionist is a person who advises others on matters of food and nutrition and their impacts on health. Some people specialize in particular areas, such as sports nutrition, public health, or animal nutrition, among other disciplines. In many countries, a person can claim to be a nutritionist even without any training, education, or professional license, in contrast to a dietitian, who has a university degree, professional license, and certification for professional practice.

What does a nutritionist do ?

Nutritionists provide information on food and healthy eating and can work in a range of areas, including in public health, in the private sector and in education and research. Unlike dietitians who primarily work with people who are ill or whose health is affected by conditions such as food allergies, malnutrition or diabetes, nutritionists mostly work with people who are healthy. They may be involved in educating individuals or groups or in forming policy to shape nutritional advice. The amount of direct contact they have with members of the public depends on the precise nature of the role.

Types of nutritionist

Nutritionists focus on helping people learn healthy eating habits and sound principles of food selection and preparation. As people become more aware of the connection between quality of life and a healthy diet, qualified nutritionists are in high demand. Nutritionists work in a variety of specialties in both the public and private sectors.


Clinical nutrition involves assessments of specific dietary needs for people, often infants, the elderly or patients with diabetes, cancer or other diseases. Clinical nutritionists generally coordinate with health-care teams consisting of doctors, nurses and caregivers to provide comprehensive health services for patients at hospitals, clinics, nursing homes or other medical facilities. In addition, clinical nutritionists may provide services for food management services, corporations or other private entities.

Public Health

Public health nutritionists work with various community organizations or governmental agencies to provide education -- often in the form of counseling, classes or workshops -- for individuals and groups of people. Public health nutritionists are especially beneficial for low income people and those in high risk groups. With the help of a public health nutritionist, people learn how to select and prepare foods that promote health and prevents chronic disease diseases such as diabetes or heart disease.


Management nutritionists are charged with overseeing dietary needs and meal planning for large facilities and institutions such as schools, nursing care facilities, hospitals or prisons. Management nutritionists are also responsible for administrative tasks such as employee supervision, creation and management of food budgets and enforcement of governmental regulations regarding health, safety and sanitation.


Nutritional consultants often work in private practice where they provide nutritional information in a variety of ways, such as writing articles or books, conducting seminars or providing weight loss counseling. Nutritional consultants may also work on a contract basis for corporations, retirement centers or hospitals, consulting with food service managers or in-house nutritionists.


Sports nutritionists work with active people who want to improve or maintain their healthy condition, or with people who hope to restore a higher level of physical activity through a healthy diet. Sports nutritionists often work with clients at gyms, fitness centers, athletic clubs or sports medicine clinics. Other sports nutritionists may find employment with community colleges, universities or professional sports teams.


Animal nutrition is a broad specialty that involves the dietary needs of birds and animals, ensuring that the animals receive flavorful, nutritionally sound and economical diets. Many animal nutritionists are involved with research or marketing projects for large pet foot manufacturers or providers, while others work in management positions. Animal nutritionists also work for zoos or veterinarians. Those in private practice may consult directly with pet owners, farmers or ranchers

What is the workplace of nutritionist like?

Registered dietitians and nutritionists are clinical experts whose work often takes them to hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, and other healthcare facilities. But a career in nutrition doesn’t have to be bound by the four walls of the clinical setting.

Outside of clinical practice, careers in nutrition include performing research at colleges, universities, and governmental/private research facilities, helping governmental and private agencies set policies used to develop and administer nutrition programs, and overseeing product development and quality control in private food companies/corporations.

Knowledge areas need to be acquired

Customer and Personal Service — Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction

Education and Training — Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.

English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.

Biology — Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.

Medicine and Dentistry — Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.

Psychology — Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.

Therapy and Counseling — Knowledge of principles, methods, and procedures for diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions, and for career counseling and guidance.

Mathematics — Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.

Administration and Management — Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.

Chemistry — Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.

Clerical — Knowledge of administrative and clerical procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office procedures and terminology.

Key Skills for Nutritionist

· Teamworking skills

· Keen interest in the impact of diet on health

· Good interpersonal skills

· Communication skills, including the ability to explain complex things simply

· An understanding of science

· Able to motivate others

· Business skills for freelance work.


Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.

Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.

Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.

Problem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.

Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.

Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.

Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).

Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.

Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.

Originality — The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.

Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events)

Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.

Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).

Fluency of Ideas — The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).

Number Facility — The ability to add, subtract, multiply, or divide quickly and correctly.

Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.

Work activities

Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.

Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.

Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.

Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.

Performing for or Working Directly with the Public — Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.

Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.

Assisting and Caring for Others — Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.

Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.

Training and Teaching Others — Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.

Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.

Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.

Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.

Interacting with Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.

Provide Consultation and Advice to Others — Providing guidance and expert advice to management or other groups on technical, systems-, or process-related topics.

Communicating with Persons Outside Organization — Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.

Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.

Coaching and Developing Others — Identifying the developmental needs of others and coaching, mentoring, or otherwise helping others to improve their knowledge or skills.

Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.

Coordinating the Work and Activities of Others — Getting members of a group to work together to accomplish tasks.

Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards — Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.

Resolving Conflicts and Negotiating with Others — Handling complaints, settling disputes, and resolving grievances and conflicts, or otherwise negotiating with others.

Developing and Building Teams — Encouraging and building mutual trust, respect, and cooperation among team members.

Guiding, Directing, and Motivating Subordinates — Providing guidance and direction to subordinates, including setting performance standards and monitoring performance.

Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.

Selling or Influencing Others — Convincing others to buy merchandise/goods or to otherwise change their minds or actions.

Performing Administrative Activities — Performing day-to-day administrative tasks such as maintaining information files and processing paperwork.

Scheduling Work and Activities — Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.

Developing Objectives and Strategies — Establishing long-range objectives and specifying the strategies and actions to achieve them.

Monitoring and Controlling Resources — Monitoring and controlling resources and overseeing the spending of money.

Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.

Judging the Qualities of Things, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.

Staffing Organizational Units — Recruiting, interviewing, selecting, hiring, and promoting employees in an organization.

Detailed work activities

· Monitor medical facility activities to ensure adherence to standards or regulations.

· Analyze patient data to determine patient needs or treatment goals.

· Provide health and wellness advice to patients, program participants, or caregivers.

· Collaborate with healthcare professionals to plan or provide treatment.

· Conduct research to increase knowledge about medical issues.

· Manage healthcare operations.

· Order medical supplies or equipment.

· Present medical research reports.

· Direct healthcare delivery programs.

· Advise communities or institutions regarding health or safety issues.

· Manage preparation of special meals or diets.

· Supervise medical support personnel.

· Train caregivers or other non-medical personnel.

· Prepare healthcare training materials.

· Conduct health or safety training programs.

· Train medical providers.

· Design public or employee health programs.

· Consult with others regarding safe or healthy equipment or facilities.


Work styles

Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job. .

Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations. .

Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical. .

Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks. .

Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude. .

Self-Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.

Independence — Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.

Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.

Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.

Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.

Social Orientation — Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.

Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.

Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations.

Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.

Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.

Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.

Frequently asked questions

How much does a nutritionist earn per month in India ?

In India, A fresher with a diploma can get anywhere around Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 15,000 per month. Those with a master’s degree can expect a higher package ranging between Rs. 2.5 lakh and Rs. 7 lakh per annum. The salaries get higher with experience.

Difference between a registered dietitian and a nutritionist

The difference between a dietitian (RD) and nutritionist is that the dietitian credential of has legal criteria and gives the holder defined clinical privileges and a scope of practice. Nutritionist is a catch-all term often used to refer to anyone who gives nutrition advice. A dietitian is a nutritionist, but a nutritionist isn’t a dietitian. In some places (Arizona for example) there is no criteria to claim the title nutritionist, and if you just wake up one day and decide you want to be a nutritionist, you are one, and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop you.

RDs at minimum have to complete a bachelor’s degree and an internship of 1200+ hours of supervised practice. Dietitians have experience using the Nutrition Care Process which is a standardized method to assess, diagnose and address nutrition problems in a variety of settings.

A nutritionist may know a whole lot, or a whole lot of nothing about nutrition, and how to help you navigate your health care questions. Because there is no generally recognized standard for nutritionists, there’s no way to know what you’re getting. Long story short, there is a clear definition of the minimum qualifications and knowledge needed to be a dietitian, while nutritionist is a poorly defined, widely used catch-all.

What is the procedure of becoming a nutritionist or dietician?

To become a dietitian, one needs to do B.Sc. with Foods and Nutrition specialization. Those who have other specializations in bachelors can do a one-year diploma in applied nutrition course and then M.Sc. in the same.

There are many universities which provides nutrition courses, but it’s better to go for an authentic and standard institution for a quality education. IGNOU provides this kind of courses. Interested candidates must register themselves to Indian Dietetic Association (IDA) during the course for lifetime membership or yearly membership to upgrade knowledge and skills periodically.

This branch has vacancies in hospitals, hotels, health centre, government nutrition projects , sports club (for this diploma or a certificate course in sports nutrition is required), gym, academic or research and private consulting, etc. The demand is increasing for certified dietitian, as there are many short-term courses from non recognized institutions. So be careful while choosing your college.

For clinical specialization, there is a registered dietitian examination conducted nationally by IDA that includes six months of internship under RD (registered dietitian) in a multispecialty hospital or minimum of 2 years’ experience of full-time job as a dietitian in multi speciality hospital followed by a written exam.

Professions one can pursue as a nutritionist

· Animal nutritionist

· Community education officer

· Food technologist

· Health promotion specialist

· International aid/development worker

· Medical sales representative

· Naturopath

· Nutritional therapist

· Nutritionist

Jobs where your degree would be useful include:

· Catering manager

· Chef

· Dietitian

· Health service manager

· Herbalist

· Personal trainer

· Product/process development scientist.

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