Skip to main content Skip to footer

Latest vacancies

Working in Nutrition FAQs

People working in the field of nutrition are typically registered nutritionists or dietitians.

Nutrition is the study of nutrients in food, how the body uses nutrients, and the relationship between diet, health and disease.


Nutritionists create and apply scientific knowledge to promote an understanding of the effects of diet on health and wellbeing of humans and provide information about food, diet and healthy eating. They are not qualified to provide information about special diets for medical conditions and cannot work with hospitalised patients without supervision from a dietitian.


The professional association for registered nutritionists is the Association for Nutrition


Dietetics is the application of the science of nutrition to the construction of diets and the selection and preparation of foods, in health and disease.


A dietitian will have undertaken training in a hospital and/or community setting as part of his/her course and is specially trained to give practical advice to individuals about their diets to enable them to make healthy diet and lifestyle choices, or in clinical specialities and in patients with complex medical disorders and needs e.g. oncology, renal disease and malabsorption.


Dietitians are the only nutrition professionals to be regulated by law and are governed by an ethical code to ensure that they always work to the highest standard.


The professional association for registered dietitians in the UK is the British Dietetic Association.

Nutritionists can work in a number of different settings, including research, the food industry, Government, non-government organisations, public health, education, media and communications, and in sports and exercise.


There are also a variety of food-orientated careers within the related field of food science and technology. Most of the major food manufacturers and retailers employ nutritionists and food scientists, and opportunities also exist abroad. For example, nutritionists can work in emergency relief or development projects in low income countries. 

You will need to have undertaken a degree course in Nutrition (or a closely related bioscience) in order to become a nutritionist. Most careers will require at least an undergraduate degree (BSc) in a nutritional science or related subject, and some may require postgraduate study too.


Some nutrition courses which meet a strict set of standards of professional education in nutrition are accredited with the Association for Nutrition (AfN). Graduates of these courses are eligible for direct entry onto the UK Voluntary Register of Nutritionists (UKVRN). In order to become a registered nutritionist in the UK you will need to have completed an undergraduate or postgraduate course that is accredited by AfN.

The Association for Nutrition (AfN) is the professional body for qualified nutritionists. The AfN maintains the UK Voluntary Register of Nutritionists (UKVRN), a competency-based register of individuals who are qualified and competent in nutritional science and practice.


The term ‘nutritionist’ is not a protected title, however only those registered with the UKVRN can call themselves a Registered Nutritionist. A Registered Nutritionist will have specialist competencies in nutrition or public health nutrition, will usually have graduated from an AfN accredited degree course and have at least three years assessed postgraduate experience.


Registered Nutritionists follow the Code of Ethics and Statement of Professional Conduct and keep up to date through Continuing Professional Development (CPD). A vocational qualification alone is not enough to join the UKVRN because you will not have enough underpinning scientific knowledge to meet AfN’s competencies. However, it is a good starting point and can help you progress towards undertaking higher level study such as a BSc. For information on how to register as a Nutritionist, visit the Association for Nutrition website.

A list of all accredited nutrition courses can be found on the Association for Nutrition (AfN) website.


Most nutrition courses will require A-levels in at least one science subject (usually biology), but often look for a second (normally Chemistry). However, some universities may offer a foundation year for students who wish to complete the degree but do not have any science-based A-levels. Some university courses may offer a professional work placement as part of the course, which enable students to gain some first-hand experience in nutrition.

You can still become a nutritionist and apply to join to UK Voluntary Register of Nutritionists (UKVRN) if you have completed a degree that is not accredited with the Association for Nutrition (AfN).


However, the registration process is lengthier and graduates are required to undertake an additional assessment. For further details please visit the AfN website here.

It is necessary to have a degree approved by the Health Care Professionals Council (HCPC) to qualify to work as a dietitian.


The minimum requirement is a BSc Hons in Dietetics, or a related science degree with a postgraduate diploma or higher degree in Dietetics.


Further information about the undergraduate and postgraduate routes can be found on the British Dietetic Association (BDA) website. All courses require a period of supervised practise in a clinical setting.

A lot of dietitians spend some or all of their time working in the community rather than solely in a hospital. Many of these are eligible to apply for registration in public health nutrition as well as being registered dietitians (RD).


In the community, a dietitian’s work is more about health education, although many also run clinics in doctors’ surgeries for people who need specialist dietary counselling. Dietitians also work in research, the food industry, Government, non-government organisations, sports and exercise nutrition, the media, public health and education.


The title ‘dietitian’ can only be used by trained professionals who are registered with the Health Care Professionals Council (HCPC). Registered professionals must keep up-to-date through compulsory Continuing Professional Development (CPD). Further information is available from the British Dietetic Association.