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by Staff Reporter
If you enjoy learning about nutrition, a desire to see people flourish in their health and wellbeing then a career as a Nutritionist could be for you.

Career Overview

If enjoy exploring nutritional health and encouraging the prevention of nutrition-related illnesses, without getting into the nitty gritty of illness management or therapy, then becoming a Nutritionist may be the career for you!  This type of career will require you to interact with people in giving them sound, evidence-based nutritional advice to improve an individual’s diet and lifestyle.

Required School Subjects

Adequate achievement in the following subjects is necessary:

  • English
  • Mathematics
  • Life Science 

Recommended subjects:

  • Physical Science or Agricultural Science

Institution and APS

The following institutions are recommended for studies in Nutrition:

  • University of Venda (UniVen) – APS of 34+
  • Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) – APS of 27 (Pure Mathematics) or 28 (Mathematical Literacy)

Required Qualification/s

Getting your degree in Nutrition is not a formal requirement for becoming a Nutritionist in South Africa, however, you will need to do some form of study in Nutrition, Dietetics or Health Science.  UniVen offers a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition while CPUT offers a Diploma in Consumer Science (Food and Nutrition).  These qualifications will give you credibility in practising as a Nutritionist.

Required Skills

You will need to have the following skills to succeed as a Nutritionist:

  • good interpersonal skills
  • you would need to work well in a potential team/ group set up
  • an interest in how diet affects health
  • ability to research information in your field
  • confidence in motivating others
  • business and administrative skills will help for any freelancing you might do
  • an ability to relate with people of varying backgrounds

Where you can work

Nutritionists can work in a variety of environments which include:

  • Hospitals
  • Schools
  • Universities and colleges
  • Research hubs
  • Food manufacturers and retailers
  • Sport and exercise industry, gyms etc.
  • Local governmental departments in national nutrition, health, wellness and research

As a Nutritionist it might also be appealing for you to freelance or run your own advisory business. All you really need to know is that you are there to advise and to challenge as well as shift perspectives on health as it relates directly to diet, wherever it may be applicable and useful.

Working Hours

Your working hours will very much depend on where you choose to work. If you are freelancing, you run your own time schedule and can work as and when you like.

Generally a work day for a Nutritionist would be somewhere between 8am – 5pm for about 8 hours per day.

Expected Salary

The average pay for a Nutritionist in South Africa is R237 287 per year, with an average hourly rate of R125 per hour.

What to expect

Here are a few things you can expect from a career as a Nutritionist:

  • You will need to research, read and gain broad understanding of how our bodies function, and what foods will complement your unique clients.
  • Expect to consult regularly with your clients. Arranging meetings and following up would be on the daily to-do list for a Nutritionist.
  • Since you are going to be confronted with your client’s vulnerability, you should expect to be compassionate and sensitive and know how to manage these kinds of moments with people (a basic knowledge of referral suggestions might be a helpful tool to have on hand)
  • To be on the road to health with your client, they will need direction and for you to remember all that you might advise them to do. Keep a record of your clients.

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