A person must regularly accumulate continuing education credits to be a member of the American Dietetic Association.
Nutritionist qualifications can vary in different parts of the world, although a typical basic requirement is the completion of a bachelor’s degree with courses in health sciences. In some areas, the term nutritionist has legal title protection and indicates the attainment of specific nutritionist qualifications. The title, qualifications and responsibilities of a nutritionist sometimes vary depending on the work environment. Nutritionist, as a technical term, generally implies more specific qualifications than the word nutritionist, which may have no legal meaning.
Nutritionists may work in day care or similar facilities to provide good nutrition for young children.
Many western countries require some sort of license or certification for nutritionists. Nutritionists are considered therapeutic or clinical professionals in the US and UK, as well as in many parts of Africa. In some areas of Europe and Japan, nutritionists tend to be primarily food workers.
Nutritionist work can take place in a wide variety of settings. Some nutritionists may work in nursing homes, hospitals, doctors’ offices, community facilities, or in people’s homes through home health companies. Self-employed nutritionists can act as consultants at healthcare facilities or offer one-on-one advice on topics such as weight loss or lowering cholesterol.
A nutritional support dietitian may be responsible for monitoring the feeding process of patients who are unable to chew, swallow or digest food without assistance.
Some nutritionists may choose to become involved in a management position, supervising other nutritionists and food service staff. This type of management experience can take place in schools, prisons, cafeterias or healthcare facilities. Nutritionists may be known as community nutritionists, public health nutritionists, research nutritionists, food service nutritionists, or clinical nutritionists, depending on the setting in which the work takes place.
US states vary in their regulatory guidelines for nutritionist qualifications. Some states require licensing, while others require certification or registration. In 2011, a handful of states had no laws regulating nutritionist qualifications. To be a member of the American Dietetic Association, individuals must successfully complete an exam and regularly accumulate continuing education credits upon registration. Some nutritionists in the United States are additionally certified in specific types of dietary practice, such as diabetes-related education or pediatric nutrition.
In Canada, nutritionists must be registered and licensed to practice with the title of Registered Dietitian. Australian nutritionists must be recognized as an Accredited Practicing Dietitian, or APD, to legally offer services to clients. South Africa regulates its nutritionists and nutritionists under a variety of titles, all of which require a bachelor’s degree with specific courses. In the UK, registration with the Health Professions Council is a requirement to meet nutritionist qualifications in addition to a bachelor’s degree in dietetics or postgraduate certification.