Education and Careers in Nutrition
Nutrition is an exciting and diverse area in which to pursue a career. The importance of food to human health has never been more significant.
By studying nutrition you will gain a solid scientific base with critical thinking and communication skills that can be transferred to scientific areas. Nutrition can suit a wide range of people with different skills and interests because of the breadth of the topic, which spans marketing, policy and psychology to nutrigenomics and metabolism.
Reasons to study nutrition
- Nutrition is a science with real life applications. You can make a difference to health outcomes in the future.
- Nutrition offers a diverse range of career specialisations including work within industry, healthcare, and Government.
- Studying nutrition will provide you with transferable scientific, communication and analytical skills.
- Nutrition is of global relevance.
There are three Universities in New Zealand offering undergraduate degrees with a focus on Human Nutrition: Auckland, Massey and Otago. Subjects included in the degrees but include, human nutrition, food science, chemistry, biology, biochemistry, microbiology and statistics. Students often combine nutrition majors with food science, physical education and marketing. Students can opt to do further research and study at all of these Universities. Canterbury University and AUT also offer some papers in the area of nutrition.
Some students complete their degrees and then train as a dietitian.
What is the difference between a Nutritionist, a Registered Nutritionist and a Dietitian?
A Nutritionist has usually completed a degree in Human Nutrition or related Science, and ideally has tertiary training in science, nutrition, biochemistry, medicine or sports physiology from a reputable tertiary institution. Nutritionists aim to improve the health and wellbeing of individuals, communities and the population as a whole, through better foods, diets and nutrition. Nutritionists can work in a variety of roles including research, nutrition consultants and advisors, public health and health promotion officers, food writing, and for governmental and non-governmental agencies, to name a few. Because anyone can call themselves a nutritionist it is advisable to check the qualifications and work experience of such individuals; for more certainty, approach someone who is a Registered Nutritionist.
The title of Registered Nutritionist can only be used by those who meet the standards determined by The Nutrition Society of New Zealand. Registered Nutritionists must hold a degree or academic qualification from a university or other recognised national institution of education. In addition to their basic academic qualification, they must have 2-3 years of professional experience in the field of nutrition. Registered Nutritionists can work in a diverse range of settings ranging from Government, community, public health, sports, research & education and the food industry. Dietitians may also work in hospitals.
A Dietitian is a registered health professional who meets standards of professionalism required by the NZ Dietitians Board under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance, who has an accredited undergraduate science degree in human nutrition, and a post-graduate qualification in Dietetics. Dietitians are trained in the science of nutrition and diet therapy, and qualified to work in areas that require nutritional assessment and counselling.
The following are some examples of workplaces where nutritionists are employed. Nutritionists find work in both the private and public sector.
Technicians, marketing, advisors, sales, processing, research, food quality
Policy advice, food safety, public health analyst, evaluation
Within Universities, Crown Enterprises, NGOs and food industry
Health promotion programmes, implementation, evaluation
Consultancy and self- employment
Sports teams, individuals, workplaces
Within secondary schools, Universities and Polytechnics
Media and marketing
Writing for magazines, TV appearances, blogs, seminars, lectures
Courses in Nutrition
Below is a brief summary of courses available within New Zealand in nutrition. To enter University courses you need NCEA level 3 and useful subjects would be biology, maths, English and chemistry. .For further details on entry requirements and on the specific courses please visit the individual websites.
Auckland University offers a Bachelor of Science in Food Science and Nutrition (3 years) which is jointly taught by the Faculty of Science, the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences and the Faculty of Engineering. Auckland also offers a Master of Health Sciences in Nutrition and Dietetics (2 years)
Department of Human Nutrition, University of Otago
Several degrees are offered at the University of Otago - the oldest department of Human Nutrition in the Southern Hemisphere - including a Bachelor of Science in Human Nutrition. For those also interested in combining an interest in sport there is a Bachelor of Applied Science.
There is a range of postgraduate courses including Master of Science and Master of Dietetics.
Distance courses are also available for working professionals who are interested in complementing their knowledge with some human nutrition and health.
Ara - Institute of Canterbury
Ara - Institute of Canterbury offers a 3 year Bachelor of Applied Science in Human Nutrition. Students can choose to specialise in Physical Activity and Health Promotion, Sport and Exercise Science, or Human Nutrition.