How to become a nutritionist in Australia – what qualifications do I need?
There are a lot of expensive nutritionist courses available, but if you want to become a fully qualified nutritionist, we recommend that you choose a degree in nutrition and / or dietetics at an Australian University.
Lots of people who get in contact with us are looking to do a course that will qualify them as a professionally-qualified nutritionist in Australia. Beck Health & Nutrition offer a range of flexible online courses that allow you to gain professional membership and insurance for health & nutrition coaching, nutritional advice and designing meal & menu plans. We are not trying to take the place of university nutrition courses. If you want to become a nutritionist or dietitian your best option is a degree at an Australian University.
Nutritionist qualifications – What qualifications do I need to become a nutritionist?
Ideally, if you want to study to become a nutritionist in Australia, your best option is a degree in nutrition and / or dietetics at an Australian University.
There are many private Australian and international nutrition course providers that offer courses in areas such as health coaching (our courses also offer this option), nutrition certification, food coaching, wellness coaching and other options. Please note that these courses are not comparable to a professional degree in nutrition and will not allow you to become a Registered Nutritionist (Nutrition Society of Australia) or Accredited Practicing Dietitian (Dietitians Association of Australia). These courses will also not allow you to access private health fund or medicare rebates for your clients.
Who can call themselves a nutritionist?
In Australia anybody can call themselves a nutritionist without any study or qualifications at all. This makes choosing a high quality, recognised nutrition course or qualification confusing. Some nutrition course providers promise accreditation to become a nutritionist (when in reality, you could actually already call yourself a nutritionist without even doing a nutrition course).
There are however professional nutritionist registration schemes via the Nutrition Society of Australia (www.nsa.asn.au) and the Dietitians Association of Australia that set out clear nutrition qualification requirements if you are wanting to become a nutritionist. Courses recognised by the NSA and DAA are provided by Australian universities, take 3-4 years of full time study and typically cost more than AU $30,000 (government course fee loans may be available).
Some private or Certificate IV level nutrition courses suggest that they will qualify you as a nutritionist. The reality is that in the Australian nutrition industry, a degree is considered as a basic requirement.
Australian accreditation and registration for nutritionists and dietitians
Professional accreditation and regulation of nutrition professionals in Australia relies on industry bodies such as the Nutrition Society of Australia (NSA) and the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA). This industry accreditation requires a degree qualification in nutrition (or a related health science plus postgraduate study in nutrition that is approved or accredited by the Nutrition Society of Australia and / or the Dietitians Association of Australia) as a minimum. Neither the NSA or DAA recognise diploma and advanced diploma level courses.
Nutrition Society of Australia – Register of Nutritionists “Registered Nutritionist”
The Nutrition Society of Australia has a professional registration program that promotes and encourages high standards of training. Inclusion on this register requires an undergraduate degree in human nutrition or a related health or nutritional science combined with at least three years of advanced postgraduate study or professional experience in nutrition. Nutritionists registered by the Nutrition Society of Australia may work in a range of health and nutrition roles including designing, coordinating, implementing and evaluating a range of population health interventions. Registered and Public Health Nutritionists may work in a number of other roles, including research, nutrition consultants and advisors, public health and health promotion coordinators, community development officers, quality and nutrition coordinators, food technologists, media spokespeople and more.
The primary goal of the NSA Register of Nutritionists is to distinguish individuals who have received an appropriate level of training and experience from those who have not. Qualifications required to register as a Nutritionist with the NSA include a Bachelor level degree with majors in nutrition or a postgraduate degree such as a Graduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma, Masters degree or PhD specialising in nutrition. There is no course that will guarantee registration.
To view the NSA Register of Nutritionists or find out more about registration requirements go to: https://nsa.asn.au
Nutrition Society of Australia
PO Box 576
Crows Nest NSW, 1585 Australia
Dietitians Association of Australia – “Accredited Practicing Dietitian”
The Dietitians Association of Australia has a comprehensive accreditation scheme for dietitians. To find out more go to www.daa.asn.au
Dietitians Association of Australia
1/8 Phipps Close
Deakin ACT 2600
Telephone: 02 6163 5200
I want to become qualified as a professional nutritionist. Should I choose a university or private college?
While many Australian education and training providers have Higher Education status (can offer degree qualifications), when considering nutrition course providers Australian universities are still the most well-regarded in the nutrition industry.
When deciding where to study in order to become a ‘nutritionist’ it is important to consider many factors:
Time requirements – Nutrition degrees
Most professional nutrition courses will take a minimum of three/four years of full-time study.
Course requirements – Nutrition degrees
Most nutrition courses will involve such subjects as anatomy and physiology, biochemistry, pathology, diagnostics, physical examination, practice management, research skills and counselling as well as nutrition.
Students will also be required to undertake several hundred hours in clinical placement (e.g. a nutritionist’s private practice, student clinic, hospitals etc). Nutrition and health science qualifications that do not include clinical placement are not commonly recognised by many professional accreditation organisations. This can be problematic as professional membership of accreditation bodies is often vital for attainment of professional indemnity insurance, private health fund rebates and professional recognition upon graduation.
Things to think about when comparing professional nutrition courses:
Medicare and / or private health fund rebates?
Both private providers and universities offer a range of nutrition-related courses and degrees so it is vital to know what your final qualification will actually allow you to do. For example, does it allow you to work in private practice as a nutritionist? Do you want to be a dietitian and work in a hospital or primary health care setting? Will you be able to access medicare or private health fund rebates for your clients? Please note that even many degrees in nutrition will not allow you to access medicare or private healthcare rebates.
Academic qualifications of your lecturers or learning support
Make sure that the members of academic staff are highly qualified in nutrition and / or dietetics. In the Australian university system, an academic lecturer must have a higher degree than the level they are teaching (e.g. if you are lecturing in nutrition in a Bachelor’s degree level course you would need to hold a masters degree in nutrition, or if you were teaching in a Masters level course you would need to have a PhD). Ideally even for short courses your academic staff should have a degree in nutrition as an absolute minimum.
Degrees, diplomas and even some shorter level courses can seem quite costly. Before choosing a nutrition course make sure you are fully informed about all costs: including all fees, GST or other taxes, international currency exchange, examination fees, clinical and laboratory fees and request some indication of the costs of texts. Private colleges tend to be more expensive than universities in the sense that they charge up-front fees whereas Fee Help loans or other government-funded options are available for public university nutrition courses in Australia.
Study support and service
Ask about what support services are offered while studying (e.g. what sort of contact occurs during an online course, for example is it online only, or can you speak to your lecturer over the phone or during online tutorials? Will the person you will be in contact with be appropriately qualified in nutrition or their specialised subject area)?
Clinical hours, examination requirements, class attendances
If you are planning to study via distance (online, distance or off-campus) ask if you need to attend residential sessions (generally a few days each semester where you attend university campus for a block of lectures or laboratory sessions). Remember to think about extra costs including travel, accommodation and possibly time off work to attend these. Also check how clinical hours are required to be completed and whether there is assistance finding placements with nutrition professionals. Many online, distance and correspondence courses require you to attend exams. Make sure you know where your nearest examination centre is.
How is your nutrition course or training delivered?
Online and distance study is super-convenient, however in order to get the most of your study experience. When studying online or off-campus it is vital to have complete, detailed information available to you. Beware of distance or online nutrition courses which rely solely or too heavily on presentation formats such as video or PowerPoint. This type of media is only helpful if you are in a very well supported lecture environment and are accompanied with comprehensive written learning materials.
It is our experience and opinion that you will require a degree in order to effectively progress in the nutrition industry (as well as apply for registration as Registered Nutritionist). We do not recommend any particular provider of this qualification but would encourage you to choose a provider that suits your planned study mode (e.g classroom, online or distance based study) as well as one that offers a direct degree upgrade qualification to a degree recognised by the Nutrition Society of Australia or the Dietitians Association of Australia.
Australian nutrition degrees
In order to gain recognition and registration as a professional nutritionist by peak bodies such as the Nutrition Society of Australia or the Dietitians Association of Australia you will require a Bachelor of Science or other suitable degree qualification with a major strand of study in health or nutrition science with honours plus a minimum of three years professional experience or ongoing postgraduate level study.
The following Australian Universities have very strong nutrition faculties:
Courses listed here include both nutrition and dietetics degrees. The information about accredited dietetic degrees comes from the Dietitians Association of Australia. For details regarding programs accredited by the Dietitians Association of Australia please go to www.daa.asn.au or for details regarding the Nutrition Society of Australia’s nutritionist registration please visit www.nsa.asn.au
Beck Health & Nutrition courses are not designed to take the place of a degree in nutrition. Nutrition courses from any private provider that is below a degree level will not provide you with the qualifications you need to become a Registered Nutritionist or Accredited Practicing Dietitian (you need to complete a nutrition and / or dietetics degree for this).
Beck Health & Nutrition courses
- Beck Health & Nutrition courses offer optional professional membership and professional indemnity insurance options for health & nutrition coaching, creating individual meal and menu plans, nutritional advice and nutrition coaching.
- Beck Health & Nutrition courses can be used to assist entry and for credit into professional nutrition qualifications.
- Beck Health & Nutrition courses are designed to provide a comprehensive introduction to nutrition and detail a large range of common nutritional principles and issues. Each course is designed to be completed in approximately 40-50 hours of study over six months. In comparison, a first-semester nutrition subject at an Australian university requires more than 100 study hours (and costs around $2500-$3500 per unit). The short-course nature of Beck Health & Nutrition courses mean that they will not qualify and accredit you as a professionally accredited nutritionist or dietitian (as this takes several years of full-time study).
- Beck Health & Nutrition courses can be used by health professionals for professional registration points and broadening of current services.
- Beck Health & Nutrition courses are especially useful for General Practitioners, nurses, pharmacists, personal trainers, naturopaths, weight loss consultants, teachers and childcare workers, health food and pharmacy staff or anyone who requires a sound working knowledge of nutrition and health.
- Beck Health & Nutrition courses can offer successful graduates the option to gain access to professional indemnity and public liability insurance to provide nutritional advice as part of their current services.