7 types of nutritionists (plus salaries and duties)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 13 October 2022 | Published 29 September 2021

Updated 13 October 2022

Published 29 September 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you have a strong interest in the effect food has on the health and well-being of society, then a career in nutrition may suit you well. Nutritionists provide information and support on matters of health and nutrition. Understanding the different types of nutritionists and the qualifications required can assist you in beginning a career in nutrition. In this article, we outline what a nutritionist is, what you require to be a nutritionist and the different nutritionist roles available.

What do different types of nutritionists do?

All types of nutritionists focus on the relationship between the nutritional components in food and the impact it has on the body. They leverage their knowledge and expertise to inform the public and healthcare professionals on nutrition and diet. They may also consult on public policy. Nutritionists play an important role in local communities as they promote good health and seek to prevent diseases. They can provide their services through business consultancy, public advocacy or privately, where nutritionists consult with clients directly and provide them with bespoke diet plans to assist them in achieving their health goals.

Related: How to become a nutritionist

What skills are useful for nutritionists?

As a nutritionist, your primary area of study is food and the human body. A strong interest in nutrition and relevant academic background, e.g. degree in nutrition or equivalent, are preferable to recruiters or hiring managers. There is a wide range of hard and soft skills that employers and recruiting managers may seek. These include:

  • scientific leaning

  • strong verbal and written communication skills

  • the ability to motivate people

  • ability to work in a team

  • empathy towards others

  • time management

  • proficiency in research and write reports

  • multi-tasking

  • entrepreneurial skills for private practice

  • commitment to further learning

Related: SMART goal examples for nurses and healthcare professionals

How to pursue a career in nutrition?

There is no specific career route to becoming a qualified nutritionist, though some employers find a degree or similar qualifications in nutrition desirable. If you would like to pursue a career in nutrition, it's important to develop a career plan that looks at the specific niche you wish to work in. These include the qualifications that would add value to your CV and the experience required to satisfy the job requirements. There are many undergraduate or postgraduate courses that specialise in nutrition. Short courses within other degrees may also have a nutritional focus.

Related: What are nutrition degrees? (Career options and salaries)

Who do nutritionists work with?

As nutritionists work within the health and wellness sector, there are going to be associations with other professionals and agencies, such as nurses, dieticians, schools or not-for-profit organisations. These functions support each other and collaborate on nutritional matters. The role of a nutritionist has some overlap with that of a dietician. The key difference is that the law regulates and oversees dieticians. This means they have an extended scope and can work more closely with clients on medical treatment programmes and other recommendations based on evidence. Because of this, the average annual salary for dieticians is higher.

There is no organisational body that regulates nutritionists. The Association for Nutrition maintains a voluntary register of different types of nutritionists to help identify nutritionists that have adequate training, experience and competence. To join the voluntary register, nutritionists have a degree in a nutrition discipline and complete an accredited course. Alternatively, they can provide evidence that they have extensive experience and knowledge within this industry. Nutritionists also adhere to the association's ethics and codes of conduct.

Related: Dietitian vs. nutritionist: what's the difference?

What industries can a nutritionist work in?

There are a variety of career industries that are available to those that are interested in nutrition. Deciding on what industry appeals the most to you can influence the specific career path you begin. This is because certain industries may require you to partake in specialised courses to gain the relevant knowledge the role requires. The type of field you find yourself in will also influence the way in which you work. Some industries have much larger teams while others cater to self-employed nutritionists. Different types of nutritionists can seek roles in the following industries:

  • food and beverage

  • public health

  • research

  • media

  • government

  • the community

  • health projects

  • private practice

  • charities

  • voluntary organisations

  • overseas aid projects

  • education

Related: Self-employment vs. employment: the differences explained

The different types of nutritionist roles

Nutrition is a broad industry with a wide number of career opportunities that you may want to pursue. It's important to review the different types of nutritionists to establish the career path most suited to your desires and ambitions. The skills you gain are transferrable. This means that if you start your career in a specific area of nutrition, you can still pursue an unfamiliar area of interest later on. Examples of nutritionist job roles include:

1. Animal technician

National average salary: £20,999 per year

Primary duties: Animal technicians work closely with animals and support a variety of work. There is also the opportunity to specialise in animal nutrition and evaluate the nutritional components of animal food and provide diet, nutrition and lifestyle advice to farmers, horticultural staff and the public sector. The role includes analysing food groups to ensure that they provide the correct nutrients for animals and making sure the owners make any recommended dietary changes.

Related: Top 20 popular jobs for animal lovers in the UK

2. Health coach

National average salary: £24,847 per year

Primary duties: Health coaches, also known as sports nutritionists, work with personal trainers, healthcare professionals and athletes to promote good health and peak sports performance. These services may also extend to private, advising them on the best diet plan to coincide with their workout regime. Health coaches work closely with sporting professionals to create personalised meal plans and educate them on the science of nutrition to help them enhance their performance, elongate their careers and achieve a balanced lifestyle.

Related: A guide to 11 careers in sports (plus duties and salaries)

3. Nutrition assistant

National average salary: £27,447 per year

Primary duties: Large companies and the educational sector directly provide employees and students with food. Given the large scale of consumption and key age demographics, it's important to hire a nutrition assistant to monitor the organisation's food. The role of the nutrition assistant is to support the overall team in selecting the best diet plan that adequately feeds large groups of people whilst meeting nutritional standards and saving costs.

4. Nutritionist

National average salary: £28,774 per year

Primary duties: This is a type of therapy for people looking to improve their general health and lifestyle through diet and nutrition or those that are looking for natural ways to improve a chronic health condition. A nutritionist provides tailored nutritional plans and lifestyle recommendations to clients to help ensure they maintain a healthy lifestyle. This may include guidance on what foods to avoid and recommended supplementary vitamins.

Related: How much does a nutritionist make? (With FAQs)

5. Researcher

National average salary: £30,231 per year

Primary duties: These roles are more academic rather than practical, a nutritional researcher studies food groups and their advantages and disadvantages. This research provides valuable data and insights for the industry to consider when reviewing and developing food products or diet plans. Researchers may also examine existing food samples and animals for potential contaminants or health complications linked to food and nutrition.

6. Public health consultant

National average salary: £36,473 per year

Primary duties: A public health consultant works closely with the government or local councils to promote health through a range of programmes and initiatives. They help plan, roll out and review nutrition policies, collating evidence and applying their knowledge to ensure the proper communication on the impact of food and diet on people's health and well-being. A nutritionist actively promotes these programmes in schools, colleges and different communities, with the goal to ensure that the communities have a better understanding of nutrition, and are eating healthy and preserving their health.

Related: 7 healthcare consultant tips for a successful career

7. Nutrition consultant

National average salary: £54,827 per year

Primary duties: Nutrition consultants offer their expertise to companies to companies seeking advice on their food range, validation of their claims and evaluation of new products. The consultant evaluates the product ranges or the meals a company prepares and provides recommendations on how to improve overall nutrition. The science behind the food provides the basis of the recommendations, benefiting underlying customers from healthier food intake.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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