There is no doubt that the health and wellness industry is booming. In fact, Euromonitor International tips that by 2017, the industry will be worth US$ 1 trillion. It also predicts that the industry will continue to boom in Australia.
People are becoming increasingly aware of their health, and the power that food has to change their health. As a result, a career in nutrition is a great option. It is also one that can lead to many career paths.
Are nutritionists and dietitians the same?
Before we look at what kinds of study (and careers) are available for nutrition in Australia, it’s important to understand the difference between a nutritionist and a dietitian.
According to Nutrition Australia (NA), “professional nutritional practice is not regulated by the government, and there is no legal protection over these terms”. This means that many nutrition professionals call themselves either a ‘nutritionist’ or a ‘dietitian’.
While both nutritionists and dietitians work to help people gain better health through nutrition, “only dietitians (with an accreditation from the Dietitians Association of Australia) are qualified to provide medical nutrition therapy or clinical nutrition consultations”, says NA.
What kinds of careers can nutritionists have?
There are a wide variety of nutrition courses available in Australia. Not all of them are called ‘Bachelor of Nutrition’, and their specialties vary from institution to institution. According to i-student global, nutrition courses focus on a core area of study — chemistry, biochemistry, physiology and nutritional metabolism. Courses may also include food science and public health.
Because entry criteria vary between institutions, it’s important to check what the entry criteria are, for the courses you are interested in. The average undergraduate course is between three and four years, while postgraduate courses are between one and two years.
Once you have your nutrition qualifications, there are many careers to choose from. Nutritionists work in hospitals, government health departments, private practice, fitness centres and in the food industry. Typical careers include:
- Nutrition consultants and advisors
- Public health and promotion officers
- Community development officers
- Food technologists
- Quality and nutrition coordinators
- Researchers and research assistants.
It’s important to note, however that some of the above careers may require further study (e.g. researchers and health promotion). Make sure you take this into account when thinking about your career in nutrition.
Once you have your nutrition qualifications, you can apply for membership with the Nutrition Society of Australia (NSA). Benefits of membership include automatic membership with the International Union of Nutrition Societies (IUNS), as well as networking opportunities.
Qualified nutritionists are also able to join the NSA Register of Nutritionists.
Of course, if you want to add ‘accredited practising dietitian’ status to your resume, you may also apply to the Dietitians Association of Australia.
If helping others achieve health and wellness through food and nutrition sounds good to you, a career in nutrition may be what you are looking for.