Nutritional therapist: job description

Nutritional therapists advise about and treat a wide range of medical conditions by assessing patients' requirements for food, vitamins and minerals while taking general health, well-being and lifestyle into consideration to provide holistic treatments.

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Creating personalised nutrition plans is a key task for nutritional therapists.

What does a nutritional therapist do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Nutritional therapists work with adults and children who are affected by conditions such as depression, anxiety, learning difficulties, asthma, skin disease, fatigue, weight problems, arthritis, physical, psychiatric and neurological disorders, and migraines.

Typical responsibilities of the job include:

  • booking and undertaking confidential one-to-one consultations with clients
  • gaining information from clients about previous dietary and lifestyle history
  • analysing and interpreting laboratory test results
  • assessing and planning treatment requirements
  • recommending appropriate nutritional supplements and diets
  • providing education, information and advice about lifestyle, exercise, diet and nutrition
  • creating and keeping accurate confidential records and reports
  • tracking progress of clients on treatment plans
  • undertaking general administrative and business management tasks
  • attending conferences and training events
  • keeping up to date with developments in the profession
  • marketing and promoting the business
  • undertaking financial administration

Typical employers of nutritional therapists

Most nutritional therapists are self-employed, and so gaining work often requires informing about and publicising your expertise and service.

You may find opportunities to work for:

  • The NHS
  • Charities
  • Prisons
  • Mental health organisations

Nutritional therapists could also look for alternative types of employment – such as in teaching or developing recipes.

You may be able to find vacancies on the websites of professional organisations, such as the British Association of Nutritional Therapists (BANT) or the Naturopathic Nutrition Association (NNA)

Qualifications and training required

In order to become a nutritional therapist, it’s advisable that you gain a qualification recognised by one of the professional associations (BANT, ANP or NNA) and accredited by the Nutritional Therapy Education Commission (NTEC) or BANT. While nutritional therapy is not officially regulated, this will demonstrate that you have the knowledge and expertise to practice.

There are a range of relevant subjects you could study, including dietetics, nutrition, pharmacy and sports science. You can study qualifications at different levels and the appropriate one for you may depend on your preferred specialism (eg dietary, naturopathic or biochemical therapy).

Relevant experience is not normally needed for qualification, although course providers may expect knowledge of the profession. To apply for a degree or diploma course you will usually need five GSCEs, including maths and English, and a minimum of two A levels or equivalent qualifications, with at least one in science.

A degree in a relevant subject (for example chemistry, biology, medicine, nursing, nutrition, dietetics, health studies, food science and technology) can be beneficial if applying for postgraduate courses.

Eligibility criteria for nutritional therapists who wish to register with BANT, ANP or NNA are set out on their websites.

Key skills for nutritional therapists

  • Interactive skills
  • Innovation
  • Good interpersonal skills
  • Planning skills
  • Communication skills
  • Analytical and information skills
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