If you're finding the path to choosing where to study to become a nutritionist confusing you're not alone. As one of the most common questions we are asked we completely understand your confusion!
Why is it so confusing?
Currently in Australia and NZ there is no strict control over who can use the label 'nutritionist', that's in part why you see the term used so loosely in so many course names. Having said that, one of the central reasons you're wise to undertake a relevant course is so that at the end of it you are:
a) Accepted by a reputable industry association and;
b) You can gain public liability and indemnity insurances so you can practice safely.
The simplest (and we are not judging it to be the easiest) way is via an Advanced Diploma of Nutritional Medicine, but and there may be a but, we'll come to that soon. These were commonly offered by private colleges and not something you would find at TAFE or uni.
HOWEVER... yes here's the 'but', there appears (there's nothing formal as yet) to be an industry shift away from a two year diploma to a minimum of a three year bachelor degree. Makes sense when you're dealing with peoples health! Most of the private colleges now offer a Bachelor of Health Science (Nutritional Medicine). For example:
- Endeavour College (Campuses all around Australia) - Cadence Health students completing the Accredited Certificate of Nutrition can be exempt the unit Foundations of Human Nutrition of the Bachelor of Health Science (Nutritional Medicine) at Endeavour
- Australasian College of Natural Therapies - Sydney
Many colleges offer degrees or diplomas via face-to-face, but also recognising that geography shouldn't be a limitation they also offer distance options. Now, it's important to make mention of two considerations:
- That few industry bodies recognised nutritionist courses that have been gained via 100% correspondence. It makes sense, you really need to see actual patients and have hands on in this industry!
- If you go down the diploma line, ensure it's with a college that offers a pathway to a degree, and ask how much longer it will take and the cost of the upgrade.
Courses cost in the vicinity of $22,000 - $40,000, so it's quite a commitment in time and money. Most commonly you will have four subjects each semester (8 p/y), so about 24 subjects covering various aspects of nutrition, physiology, anatomy, chem and biochem, practice management, pharmacology, and maybe counselling.
If all the science scares you and you are looking more to coach people in health you have option of our Lifestyle, Food and Wellness Coaching program. The Lifestyle, Food and Wellness Coaching program can be a gentle way of moving into the health field as well as a potential income while you study.
Some colleges offer fee help, though not many. Again Endeavour College stood out from the rest in making paying fees off much easier, and don't forget if you take your Accredited Certificate of Nutrition with you, you'll have a whole unit exemption saving time and money!
What's the difference between a nutritionist and a dietitian?
- Accredited nutritionist/nutritionist - commonly diploma and/or degree qualified nutritionist who have registered with complimentary health bodies such as ATMS and ANTA.
- Associate nutritionist - Generally with an undergrad degree and at least a post graduate certificate in nutrition and is recognised by the Nutrition Society of Australia (NSA) as an 'associate nutritionist'.
- Registered nutritionist - Is the next step up from associate nutritionist in registration with the NSA, having completed a post-graduate qualification in nutrition or dietetics and conducted at least three years of relevant industry work.
Endeavour College is the only private college which has a pathway to registration with theNutrition Society of Australia (NSA). Can you tell we have done our homework on who we have chosen to pathway to?
Apart from the ways above you can also use healthy eating and nutrition in allied occupations such as personal training and health coaching:
- If you LOVE fitness then consider becoming a PT via a Certificate IV in Fitness then complete our Accredited Certificate of Nutrition so you can gain insurance to use basic nutrition with your clients.
- Or... become a Recognised Lifestyle, Food and Wellness Coach perfect if you have a passion for health and nutrition but don't have a relevant qualification. You won't be a nutritionist but you will work collaboratively with clients in empowering them to take responsibility for their eating and health, imparting valuable knowledge along the way.
You have probably found all manner of courses offering all manner of nutrition training, even suggesting you can work as a nutrition consultant in as little as nine months. Ask yourself how you would feel going to a 'nutritionist' with a serious medical condition who has just nine months of training. Remember if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
You might also have seen a number of diplomas and accredited certificates in various health or allied health courses. We recommend you read over the units of each course to see just how much nutrition you will learn. In a number of cases you are being trained to support nutritionists and dietitians hence you will learn more about that than nutrition itself. In addition there is not likely to be a pathway to a degree option.
Career advice - not sales
Yes, we hear you! You have tried calling a few colleges and all you get is ill-informed reception staff whose main aim is to sell 'bums on seats'. If you're still stuck on where to start feel free to call us. While we believe our courses are the best, we also know they sell themselves so you won't get hard sell here. We promise to give you unbiased information to help you in what we know is a very big decision, no catches!