People are more conscious than ever about what they eat. With so much attention focused on the dietary health of the UK population, there is a growing trend towards nutritional awareness.
With so many government and celebrity-led campaigns for healthy eating and the media spotlight fixed on the nation’s obesity levels, many people are on the lookout for nutritional guidance.
Clearly, then, there are plenty of business opportunities for nutrition consultants.
Whether operating as a diet coach on a one-to-one basis or in a group environment, or acting as an advisor in the food industry, going into business as a nutrition consultant can be hugely rewarding. If you’re interested in health, fitness and diet and are looking for a way to make money while improving people’s lives, it could be the business for you.
However, to build sustainable success as a nutrition consultant, you need the right credentials. It’s important to obtain a formal and recognised qualification. Because the industry is largely self-regulated, there’s no standard accreditation required to set up business, but there are a number of avenues to consider if you want to train properly for the job and get qualified.
Although not essential, a BSc in nutritional science or similar subject is a solid foundation for a career in the industry. This can then be consolidated with a vocational qualification.
This was the route taken by nutritional therapist Lisa Fossey. She graduated from the University of Greenwich with a degree in professional practice (nutritional health) before gaining a diploma in nutritional therapy the UK College of Nutrition and Health (BCNH).
She told UK graduate careers website Prospects: “As I didn’t have biology or chemistry A Levels, I had to complete a science foundation course before embarking on the degree. This knowledge is important as it gives you an understanding of the human body and the science behind nutritional therapy. I found the degree and diploma really interesting and thoroughly enjoyed learning about nutrition and its impact on health.”
She also explained how the diploma gave her valuable experience: “The final year of the diploma involved seeing clients, which was great as it enabled me to put my knowledge into practice and test it on ‘real’ people. It was also incredibly important to develop the skills needed to conduct consultations, such as listening and communication skills, being sympathetic, encouraging and motivating, maintaining professionalism and being able to explain technical jargon in client-friendly language.”
There are other business-specific courses available. For example, the Open Study College runs a course titled “Nutrition Consultant and Starting Your Own Business”. Completion of the course earns a level 3 NCFE Award, which according to the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) for England, Wales and Northern Ireland is similar in difficulty to an A Level.
The nutrition aspect of the course covers: the principles of a balanced diet; special dietary needs; how certain diets affect health; contemporary food issues and their impact on diet; food hygiene and safety; and supporting people to change their diet and food choices.
The business-oriented aspect of the course covers: preparing to start your business; defining your business; marketing; customers; finance; and your business plan.
Assessed through a series of written assignments, the course takes approximately 160 hours to complete (but there is no time limit for completion).
For more information, visit: http://www.openstudycollege.com/courses/nutrition-start-business.html
Once you’ve gained sufficient accreditation and you’re ready to start your business, you need to think about the area of the industry you want to target and tailor your marketing appropriately. Also consider the kind of business insurance you require, such as public liability cover and professional indemnity insurance.
But remember, a good nutritionist never stops learning. As Lisa Fossey explained: “To be a successful nutritional therapist you must have a genuine passion for nutrition and the motivation to study and keep studying throughout your career.”