Many people are interested in the field of nutrition.  It is in fact quite a varied field and can encompass both alleopathic and alternative health, as well as counselling and life coaching, fitness, personal training and gym instruction and research.  Careers might be sought in gyms, doctors clinics, complementary medicine clinics, sporting clubs and institutions, health food shops, food and beverage/hospitality or as a nutritional counsellor or consultant. You might like to work as a facilitator, counselling and motivating people to improve their diet, or as a source of information and guidance, giving people the knowledge and tools and then monitoring their progress.  You may prefer to work in the provision of healthy food alternatives or food preparation.  What employment you can obtain will depend on your range of skills and qualifications and nutrition studies are often an ideal adjunct to other professional qualifications. 

However, most people are unaware that there is no formal system of recognition for nutritionists in many countries, Australia included.  This means that anyone can open up shop and work as a nutritionist.  Of course the chances that they will be a good and successful nutritionist are practically nil.  On the other hand, there are strict criteria and restrictions on the use of the title Dietician.  Dietician studies are generally much more focused on the alleopathic medicine field, with strong focus on the biological sciences and western techniques and theories.  To call yourself a Dietician, in most countries, you will require a Bachelors Degree as a minimum, or a specialised post graduate qualification.  You will also need to join an industry body in many instances and obtain a license in some. 

Nutritionists are often criticised by dieticians for their lack of knowledge and training.  Unfortunately, without regulation this accusation can sometimes be true as course are available of very limited duration and often the anatomy and physiology components are limited.  In many cases industry bodies for nutritionists are developing and setting minimum membership criteria.  In this way, genuine nutritionists who have completed an approved course of study can be readily recognised from those who have not.  Institutions like ACS Distance Education maintain the importance of comprehensive training for nutrition students.  Courses include comprehensive digestive anatomy and physiology with cellular biology as standard.  Nutrition modules cover macro and micro-nutrients, RDIs, food sources of nutrients as well as cooking and preperation, biochemistry and food allergies and sensitivities and other nutrient related pathologies. 

If you are keen to work as a nutritionist, it is imperative you investigate the requirements in your area.  If there are none, this does not mean you should do a minimal course of study.  In fact, the onus is on students with a genuine desire to help people to take on adequate study to provide a reputable and safe service.  You must also consider your employer.  They will want the assurance that you know what you are doing, that you will be able to interact with patients and know who to refer patients on to when necessary.  The issue of professional indemnity insurance is also important.  If an employer cannot get you covered under their policy, or if you cannot get your own cover as a consultant you will struggle to get work. 

So, if you are excited about a career in nutrition you first need to decide whether you want to work as a Dietician or a Nutritionist.  If you want to work as a Dietician there is generally no escaping a minimum three year full time course of study.  However, if you prefer to work as a Nutritionist, there are flexible, correspondence options available from proficiency awards, certificates up to advanced diplomas.