“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life."
~ Confucius ~
The balance between loving your work because you feel fulfilled and earning enough to ensure you can live your life the way you like is a fine balance indeed.
As a child, you probably coveted the 'fun' jobs or the work that your parents did — or perhaps you wanted to be a millionaire and live in a huge mansion with lots of servants? As you moved through your schooling, you may have discovered subjects you loved and others that did not really rock your world. You probably attended 'career expos' and undertook work experience. Maybe you had a clear idea from the get-go of the career path you wanted to follow — or maybe you had no idea at all.
Whatever your experience, it remains a clear fact that your choice of career is one of the most important ones you will be faced with.
Choosing something that aligns with your passions, interests, goals and skills is essential — and, as unpalatable as it may seem, you also need to consider the level of income you would like to earn. Is this more important to you than working in an area you absolutely love, or is income lower down on your priority list?
If you're reading this article, chances are you're looking at nutritionist jobs or a potential career in the health industry. People who are passionate about food, healthy eating and diet, and who enjoy helping others achieve health goals often steer themselves towards work as a nutritionist or dietician.
If this is you, and if you want to know a little more about nutritionist jobs and what the 'average' nutritionist wage is in Australia, Superprof is here to answer your questions.
What is the Average Wage of a Nutritionist in Australia?
According to sites such as Indeed and PayScale, the average nutritionist wage in Australia is $78, 137. The range varies from an entry level nutritionist salary of $49,000 through to over $100,000 per year for nutritionists with extensive experience or those who work in private practice.
This range is dependent on a number of factors, including:
- qualification level
- years of experience
- work location
- private practice v government or public work
- nutritionist roles (job description)
One interesting point worth considering is that the word nutritionist is not regulated in Australia — meaning that anyone can use this term to describe their occupation. Fortunately, the number of people who do this is declining with only a small percentage of working 'nutritionists' possessing only a Year 12 certificate level of education or lower.
Equally, the number of nutritionists who have gained employment in the industry with Certificate III and IV qualifications or a diploma level degree in nutrition are also well under 5 per cent. Census data from 2016 shows that 46.7% of people working in jobs in the field of nutrition have a qualification at Bachelor degree level and 46.5% of working nutritionists have obtained a postgraduate degree in the field.
For people looking to become registered nutritionists, the Nutrition Society of Australia (NSA) is the peak body supporting and promoting high professional standards of training and education in nutrition. Among their numerous training events, the NSA also maintains a list of professional registered nutritionists in all areas of the health industry.
What Does a Nutritionist Do?
The two key roles of people working as nutritionists are:
- Provide advice on food and the potential impact of food on health.
- Design or evaluate public health interventions based on food and nutrition.
Depending on your actual occupation in the nutrition industry and the required roles in your job, nutritionists may be required to work on any of the following:
- Consult with other health professionals and workers to meet the health and nutrition needs of clients or patients.
- Provide nutrition assessments and management programs.
- Deliver nutrition education and training.
- Participate in or lead research into nutrition, including the collection of data.
- Calculate nutrition values of different food.
- Supervise food preparation.
- Plan meals for public and private institutions.
Much of what a nutritionist does is evidence based and grounded in scientific fundamentals.
Nutritionist v Dietician
In Australia, there is a clear distinction between a nutritionist and a dietician, despite the fact both professionals require similar prerequisite skills and work with food.
The key difference is that, unlike a dietician, a nutritionist is not qualified to provide medical nutrition advice or therapy.
A nutritionist can provide non-medical advice, but a dietician is allowed to work in a clinical setting, such as a hospital or a public or private practice and prescribe dietary treatment. You cannot gain employment as a dietician without the required degree level qualification.
The salary of a dietician, however, is very similar to that of a nutritionist wage.
Where Can You Study to Become a Nutritionist?
The more advanced the degree qualification, the more you can earn and the more options are available when it comes to occupation and job location choice, so it pays to shop around for a reputable course at the level you want.
An undergraduate science degree at Bachelor level, with a major in nutrition, would keep your options open. Alternatively, you may choose to undertake a specialised nutrition degree in areas including:
- Food and nutrition sciences
- Sports nutrition
- Health sciences
- Public health nutrition
- Diabetics education.
Check your local or preferred university for specific course information, or you may also want to consider one of the many online course offerings (from places such as Open Universities) or check your local Technical and Further Education (TAFE) institution.
The time needed to complete your course training depends on the level of study. A Bachelor degree will take around 4 years full time, a Masters or postgraduate degree is around 1.5 years full time, while a Certificate IV or diploma course generally takes around one year.
Skills and Experience Required as a Nutritionist
While many of the skills required for jobs in the nutrition field can be acquired on the job, it is a good idea to work on developing many of them before you start your course, or during your study time.
Relationship building and management
Many nutritionists work one-on-one with clients in a position of trust, so it is important to build a professional relationship based on care, trust and mutual respect. If you are working as part of a team of nutritionists, or with others in the same health industry, good working relationships will also go a long way.
Working with the public
Communication and public speaking often go hand-in-hand and may not be something your course or training prepares you for. The ability to speak confidently and with authority, but also with care and compassion, is one of the most highly valued skills.
Research and investigation skills
Even if you are not working in the field of nutrition research, it is essential that nutritionists keep up-to-date with the current nutrition and dietetics information. Nutrition knowledge and concepts often change on a daily basis, and the best professionals ensure they are abreast of all information.
Training and coaching others
A key part of the nutrition role is to nurture and educate clients on eating for health and wellbeing. This requires good communication whether you're in the public sector or private. At some point, especially if you work for a larger business, you may be required to run a course for a small group or assist with the training of new staff.
Basic language skills
A large component of all nutritionist jobs involves the ability to communicate in the written form, and the ability to access and analyse data.
Again, the more skills you can demonstrate, the more bargaining power you may have when it comes to negotiating a salary.
Where Can I Find Nutritionist Jobs?
Within the health and nutrition industry, nutritionists may work in a number of different sectors, public and private, and in a wide range of roles. These include (but are not limited to):
- public or private nutrition consultants, working with individual clients or in the business or corporate sector
- public data collection and collation
- public health
- health promotion
- sports facilities, including gyms and health and fitness centres
- food technology
- media liaison, for small and large business.
While working as a nutritionist is deemed as a small occupation, it is certainly one with many options when it comes to work location and roles. If you have a passion for food and health, a job in the nutrition industry can be fulfilling, challenging and rewarding.