Nutritionist Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: June 22, 2022

A Nutritionist, or Certified Nutrition Specialist, creates meal plans according to a patient’s dietary restrictions and requirements. Their main duties include establishing short and long-term health goals with patients, teaching the public about health and nutrition and developing effective nutritional and exercise plans for clients.

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Nutritionist duties and responsibilities

Nutritionists work closely with clients to develop healthy eating habits. Some of their duties and responsibilities include:

  • Counsel patients on any dietary issues and healthy eating habits
  • Develop nutrition plans while taking into account the client’s budget and tastes
  • Assess clients’ nutritional and health needs
  • Evaluate if the meal plans have a positive effect on clients’ health
  • Create educational material about healthy eating habits
  • Read and contribute to the latest nutritional research
  • Speak to groups about the importance of nutrition to prevent specific diseases
  • Document patient progress
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Nutritionist Job Description Examples

What does a Nutritionist do?

Nutritionists are healthcare professionals who educate, advise and guide patients on nutrition plans that help them maintain a healthy lifestyle. They’ll meet with patients to identify their health goals and dietary restrictions. Nutritionists will use this information to build a personalized diet plan and exercise routine for the patient to regularly complete. 

They’ll continuously check in on the patient’s progress and will provide advice and support on how to stay healthy. Nutritionists are responsible for staying updated on regular health trends and diets to ensure they’re providing valuable guidance and advice to patients. Many Nutritionists also attend group seminars or write articles educating others on nutritional plans and facts.

Nutritionist skills and qualifications

Nutritionists need a certain set of skills and qualifications to be successful, including:

  • Attention to detail
  • Excellent verbal and written communication
  • Ability to work closely with clients
  • Good research and analysis skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • In-depth knowledge of different dietary allergies and restrictions
  • An understanding of food science and how it affects bodies

Nutritionist salary expectations

 A Nutritionist makes an average of $53,687 per year. Salary may depend on level of experience, education and the geographical location.

Nutritionist education and training requirements

Nutritionists typically have a bachelor’s degree in dietetics, foods and nutrition or a related area. An associate degree is also a common educational route for Nutritionists. They usually receive some training in the form of an internship during or after degree studies. States usually require Nutritionists to be licensed in order to practice, while some only need a registration or certification. To earn a certification, Nutritionists need to complete a program, and a bachelor’s degree is not required to enter the program. These programs can last for a few weeks up to a year.

Nutritionist experience requirements

Since Nutritionists usually complete an internship or get practical experience during certification courses, experience is not required for entry-level positions. Nutritionists who work with clients with very specific dietary restrictions usually need at least 2 years of experience. Those working for a large school or hospital often need at least 5 years of experience. Senior Nutritionists who oversee a team also usually need at least 5 years of experience.

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Frequently asked questions about Nutritionists

 

Who reports to a Nutritionist?

The person who reports to a Nutritionist typically depends on the type of environment they operate in. If they work in a larger healthcare facility, a Dietary Aide or Nutrition Aide will usually serve directly under the Nutritionist. They’ll usually work one-on-one with patients to develop a personalized and detailed nutrition plan. They’ll then provide these meal plans to the Dietary or Nutrition Aide, who will create these meals for the patient. 

The Dietary or Nutrition Aide will usually check in with the patient regularly and will report on their progress to the Nutritionist who will update their meal plans accordingly.

 

What settings do Nutritionists typically work in?

Nutritionists usually work in healthcare facilities like hospitals, where they’ll regularly meet with patients who are undergoing serious health issues. They’ll help craft a nutritional plan that gets the patient back to stable health. Other Nutritionists typically work in long-term care facilities, like nursing homes or residential care facilities. They’ll meet with ongoing patients and will establish long-term goals to keep them feeling healthy and stable. 

There are also some Nutritionists who work independently. They may build their own client base and will work with a wide variety of different people, providing them ongoing advice on the best diet and exercise plans to pursue. 

 

What's the difference between a Nutritionist and a Dietitian?

While many of their job responsibilities overlap and some people use their titles interchangeably, there are key differences between a Nutritionist and a Dietitian. Typically, anyone who wants to pursue a career in offering nutritional advice to patients and clients can hold the title of a Nutritionist. Candidates can use this title when advising individual clients on proper meal and exercise plans to try. Nutritionists can also undergo further training to become a Certified Nutrition Specialist and work in many healthcare facilities.

Dietitians complete similar job responsibilities as Nutritionists by providing nutritional plans to patients, but aren’t considered a Dietitian until they pass a national exam, which makes them a Registered Dietitian. This allows Dietitians to complete more complex and higher level health-related diet and nutrition research and tasks.

 

What makes a good Nutritionist?

A great Nutritionist should have impressive interpersonal and communication skills to work closely with patients and other healthcare professionals to build personalized plans. They should also have great attention to detail to examine patients, uncover any notable changes in their health and adjust their nutritional plans accordingly. Effective Nutritionists must also be talented at setting goals and building realistic strategies and plans for their patients to achieve.

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