Frequently asked questions about study and careers in nutrition.
The term nutritionist does not cover a single, easily defined role, as nutritionists work for the government, in industry, in the NHS, for charities involved in health, in the field of weight loss, in a self employed capacity (e.g. giving nutritional guidance to individuals and companies), in public health roles, internationally in disadvantaged countries, in sports, in research and academia and many more areas. Each of these areas of work has different entry requirements in terms of qualifications and experience and there is no one clear pathway into the profession. If you are thinking of a career in nutrition you should consider which field you may want to work in. More information about the type of work that nutritionists do can be found here.
In order to register with the UKVRN as a professional nutritionist you need to be able to demonstrate that you meet the underpinning knowledge and profession skills required. Usually this would require you to have obtained at least a BSc (Hons) in Nutrition or related bioscience degree, or to demonstrate significant professional experience (usually around seven years) if you do not have a nutrition degree.
Our page about What Nutritionists Do and Comparison of Nutrition Professions Table should help to explain the difference. It’s important that you understand the differences, as this will have an impact on the qualifications and skills you need for your desired career.
Because of the high scientific content of nutrition degrees, most universities will ask for A levels in at least one science based subject, usually Biology, and ideally they would look for a second, usually Chemistry. Some universities may offer a foundation year for students who want to take the degree course but don’t have any science based A-levels. Please see our page on studying nutrition at school or college for more information.
Our page on studying nutrition at university may be able to help you. We are not able to recommend any university programmes individually, as the choice will depend on a number of factors (including preferred method of study, location, financial circumstances etc).
We accredit a number of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes which have met our high standards of professional education. If you graduate with an accredited degree, you will automatically be eligible to apply for ‘direct entry’ onto the UKVRN.
You may find it advantageous to undertake a degree that includes some form of professional training element or even includes a placement year. This kind of professional experience in nutrition can be invaluable after you graduate and are looking to find employment in the field. You should check with the individual universities whether their programmes offer a work experience element.
A good place to start your search for a study programme would be UCAS (for undergraduate programmes) or UKPASS (for postgraduate programmes). These sites will set out the individual entry requirements for each programme. You should also try to obtain as much information as possible from individual universities about their graduate employment rates, what jobs their graduates take up on leaving etc to give you an idea of what your prospects may be like.
Usually anyone working in a professional sports nutrition role will have at least an undergraduate degree in a biological science subject, usually a sports and exercise related degree, and have often then taken a postgraduate degree in nutrition (or vice versa). You may also find additional information on the BASES website or the REPS site.
We can not recommend individual courses or programmes, but our Nutrition Training pages should be able to help you choose. We accredit some university programmes, which enable graduates to join the register via direct entry (These can be found here). We also certify courses taught at lower levels, these provide nutrition training at lower levels and are useful for individuals where nutrition plays a small part within their job role or they are wishing to get a taster of nutrition science before committing to a degree. However, please note that these courses do not result in an individual being a qualified nutrition professional nor able you to join the register.
Please see Finding Work.
Please see Work Experience.