Nutritional Counsellor/ Nutritionist

Working as a Nutritional Counsellor or Nutritionist

Nutritional imbalance is currently acknowledged as a major factor in the development of the many chronic disease conditions so prevalent in Western Society. In developing countries, nutrient deprivation plays a major role in the morbidity and mortality associated with infectious and chronic disease processes. Though nutritional status is the factor most amenable to correction, leading to substantially improved health outcomes, the majority of medical practitioners have little time to devote to this aspect of health. It is here that a Nutritionist or Nutritional Counsellor can assist with the promotion of health. If you are interested in food, nutrition and health, and enjoy communicating with people, this may be the career path for you.

Nutritional counsellors or nutritionists may educate others on health and the establishment of a well-balanced diet.

Nutritional counselling and advice may help others identify their problems with food, and the physical consequences of not eating well.

Education about the nutritional values of food can be of particular benefit to a person with physical problems, and can complement the medical treatment that person is receiving from a medical practitioner.

Nutritional counsellors or nutritionists may work in conjunction with other professionals.


People who complete a Certificate or Diploma in Nutrition may have the following career options:

  • Articulation to a Bachelors Degree or other higher degree
  • Articulation into a parallel field such as Naturopathy
  • Private Practice as a nutritionist
  • Nutritionist in a health food shop
  • Technical or customer service role in a nutritional medicine company
  • Sales representative in a nutritional medicine company
  • Nutrition journalist
  • Nutritionist in a variety of institutions
  • Nutritionist in a fitness centre
  • Other specialist positions in the field of nutrition
  • Other fields - Nutritionist are able to transfer their skills to other fields such as management, public relations, marketing, program management, communications, media, health promotion, policy development and information technology.


Nutritionists and Nutritional Counsellors are trained to:

  • understand nutritional science – the role and benefits of particular vitamins and minerals
  • interpret nutrition science – explain what a client needs to take to address a nutritional issue
  • assess people's nutritional needs
  • advise on nutrition and diet for general good health and well being or for special needs such as sport
  • implement nutrition services and programs
  • teach others about better health and well being.


Employment in the field of Nutrition is varied. You may work for yourself and counsel clients how to eat more healthily to have more personal wellbeing, or you may do the same things just for yourself. You can work with clients or you can work as a nutritional journalist. These are just a couple of the many avenues that you can explore. Employment in this field can be part time, full time, casual or permanent.

Depending on where you are living, career opportunities can be quite different – of course, a larger city provides more opportunities in general. A background in Nutrition can be utilized in many different industries at a variety of levels. Other qualifications and certificates may be beneficial to secure positions at management or higher levels.

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Remuneration and advancement opportunities depend on where and how you are practising in this field.If you are counselling in nutrition, the price for one half hour session may vary from not much more than the minimum wage to over four times that rate. This may depend greatly on whether you are working in your own practice and location, and if you specialize. Extra study in a specialized area will make your skills more competitive.After some time in the business, many nutritionists decide to specialize in fields such as fertility, childhood – especially ADD and Autism, sports such as performance and weight lifting. Or you can simply become a specialist vegan nutritionist, making sure that those people not eating meat, fish, or other animal products get the right amount of nourishment and vitamins. If you are working on your own, advancement will depend on you and what you want to add to your skills. If working for others, it will depend on what industry they are in and what they find beneficial.


The stress rating of being a Nutritionist

The stress rating for a nutritionist will again depend on the way one is practising. Working for yourself can be much calmer than working for others, but having to pay the bills and finding clients on your own may be stressful. Some jobs put heavier demands on people than others. Some are very stressful; others very laid back.Working for others may be less stressful as there is less responsibility, but you may also feel the stress of having work times that you cannot control. Mostly, the field of Nutrition is very rewarding and gives you much pleasure as you help others to better health.

How to Distinguish Yourself from the Competition

Every career will place you in positions where you have to compete…both initially to get a job and repeatedly to retain work and get advancement. Experience can be very beneficial, so it is good, while you are studying, if you can understudy with someone and gain clinical experience.Many Nutrition Counsellors or even Naturopaths will be open to you being a part of their sessions, and you can learn many different aspects of the job before you start it. When working overtime, they also may let you practice with clients while they sit in with you as your mentor to make sure that you are correctly caring for the client.

To ensure that you continue to adapt and be aware of changes in the field and the latest research, it is good to be a part of seminars on nutrition and health. Most nutritional supplement companies have seminars a few times a year to give the latest research on many different subjects. Also, universities and other schools sometimes hire specialists in the field for sharing the latest research and approaches to nutrition.

The best way to keep an edge on the competition is to keep up to date. There are always numbers of research innovations and studies being completed in this field.In Australia, it would be beneficial to subscribe to the journal called Nutrition & Dietetics, Australia's leading peer-reviewed journal in its field. Covering all aspects of food, nutrition and dietetics, the journal provides a forum for the reporting, discussion and development of scientifically credible knowledge related to human nutrition and dietetics. 

Professional Bodies

There are a few professional bodies for the Para-Medical Health Field.Many times, these careers - such as Naturopathy, Herbal Medicine, and Homeopathy - also practice with Nutrition and are therefore both independent and interdependent.

Some of the bodies include:

Complementary Medicine Association ACS is now a member of the Complementary Medicine Association (CMA) in the UK

Alumni Association of Natural Medicine Practitioners

Australian Natural Therapists Association (ANTA)


Being a nutritionist is part of the field of Para-Medical Health Practitioners.You can be covered for combined malpractice, public and products liability insurance. For example, one company, Aon, has a policy that covers Nutritionists starting at approximately $340 a year (Australian rate in 2006). This is insurance for practising and this policy provides $1,000,000 worth of coverage. If you open your own clinic, there may be other policies necessary for running your business. It is best to check with an insurance consultant to make sure that your insurance needs are met.

To minimise risk of liability, you must investigate and learn about the legal and professional requirements for practising as a nutritionist.

Assessment Systems

As a worker in the field of health, you should seek membership in relevant professional bodies. Some professional bodies have more stringent prerequisites for membership than others. Many will offer alternate pathways to achieving membership, for example:

Dieticians Association of Australia (DAA).
Graduates from accredited Australian university degrees in nutrition are accepted as members.
Graduates from any substantial Australian program may, irrespective of accreditation, apply for associate membership and be considered on a case by case basis.
Graduates from substantial courses outside of Australia may apply to sit an exam and if they pass the formal test for being a dietician, they can become a part of this body of dieticians.
Most of their body have Bachelors Degrees in the field. They are the national Association of the profession, with branches in each State and Territory.
DAA represents approximately 3,000 members. Dieticians are employed in a wide variety of work areas including clinical dietetics, community nutrition, education, private sector, government, research and industry.

Recommended Courses

Recommended ACS Courses to study Nutrition are:
Associate Diploma in Food and Nutrition

Certificate in Nutritional Counselling

Specialist courses are: 
Sports NutritionBRE 303 and  Children’s Nutrition BRE304, as well as other courses in Health and Recreation.


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