Skip main navigation

New offer! Get 30% off one whole year of Unlimited learning. Subscribe for just £249.99 £174.99. New subscribers only. T&Cs apply

Find out more

How to work in the nutrition industry

In this guide, we'll explore the nutrition industry, the skills you need to be a nutritionist, and some courses you can take to start your career.


The nutrition industry is booming, with people more interested than ever in eating nutritious, healthy meals. Now is a great time to take nutrition courses online and develop a career in this exciting field.

In this guide, we’ll explore the nutrition industry, the right skills you need to be a nutritionist, and what courses you can take to start your career. Learn more about this growing industry and start your journey to becoming a nutritionist today.

What is nutrition?

Nutrition is the study of food and how it affects the body. It’s a science that looks at how different nutrients in food act in the body to maintain health and prevent disease. It also looks at how diets can impact our overall health. This can help minimise the risk of developing chronic diseases like heart disease, strokes, cancer, and diabetes.

Food and nutrition

Food and nutrition are a vital part of our everyday lives. What we eat can impact our mood, mental health and overall sense of wellbeing – learn how by reading this blog post on the importance of food. So it’s important to eat a balanced diet that includes a variety of different foods from each of the food groups.

The five main food groups are fruit and vegetables, carbohydrates, protein, dairy and oils. Each food group contains different nutrients that are essential for our health. Fruit and vegetables, for example, are a good source of vitamins and minerals, while proteins provide the body with the amino acids it needs to build and repair cells.

Superfoods, like blueberries, salmon and kale, are well-known for their health benefits and are thought to help supercharge a nutritious diet. Find out more about this in the University of Turin and EIT Food’s Superfoods: Myths and Truths course.

Many different factors can impact our food and nutrition choices. Our culture, family background and personal preferences all play a role in what we choose to eat. External factors such as cost and convenience can also influence our food choices. By making mindful decisions about what we eat, we can make sure we’re getting the nutrients our bodies need.

Wellbeing and nutrition

Nutrition is a critical component of wellbeing. A balanced diet can help us to maintain a healthy weight, have more energy, and feel better overall. It’s also important for brain functioning and mental health. For example, omega-3 fatty acids (which are found in fish, nuts and seeds) can help to protect against depression and cognitive decline.

The antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables can help to protect the brain from damage caused by free radicals. Our Food for Thought: The Relationship Between Food, Gut and Brain course by the University of Turin and EIT Food explores this topic in more depth.

It’s important to pay attention to both our physical and mental wellbeing with what we eat. Take a look at the Nutrition and Wellbeing course by the University of Aberdeen to learn more.

The global nutrition industry

There are several key players in the global nutrition industry. This includes major food, beverage, pharmaceutical and specialist nutrition companies. They’re always innovating new products and extending their reach into new markets. 

Many food and beverage companies offer health-conscious consumers products that are low in sugar or calories. Pharmaceutical companies develop products that address specific nutritional needs, such as vitamin deficiencies.

While there are many legitimate and useful products available on the market, it’s important to be aware that not all nutritional claims are backed by science. Some products that are marketed as being healthy or beneficial may not be supported by any evidence at all. 

So, it’s important to do your own research when it comes to the evolution of this industry. The Food and Nutrition: The Truth Behind Food Headlines course by the University of Reading and EIT Food will take you through food in the news, exploring the real truth behind the headlines we read every day.

As the nutrition industry continues to grow, so too will the demand for qualified nutritionists. If you’re interested in a career in nutrition, now is the time to get started. There are many different ways to become a nutritionist, so find the path that’s right for you.

How big is the nutrition industry?

The global nutrition industry is worth billions of dollars and is expected to continue to grow in the coming years. In fact, The global clinical nutrition market size was valued at $32,495.97 million in 2020 and is expected to reach $51,128.26 million by 2028.

This growth is driven by several factors, including an ageing population, increased focus on health and wellness, sustainability issues and a growing interest in nutritious food and specialised diets (such as vegan and vegetarian diets).

The importance of nutrition

Many people believe that nutrition is only important for athletes and bodybuilders. The truth is that everyone needs to be aware of the role that nutrition plays in their health.

Good nutrition plays a role in disease prevention, as it can help to reduce inflammation and support a healthy immune system. Ultimately, everyone can benefit from paying attention to their nutrition. Unfortunately, busy lifestyles, stress, or a lack of knowledge can contribute to an unhealthy diet. The Nutrition Science: Food Choice and Behaviour course by the University of Aberdeen is a great way to delve into this subject.

Food and nutrition science

Food and nutrition science is the study of how food and beverages impact human health. It is a relatively new field that combines aspects of physiology, psychology and biochemistry to understand how the body processes and responds to food. Nutrition science also looks at how diet affects chronic diseases. The Food as Medicine course by Monash University explores this in more detail.

Food science researchers work to develop guidelines for healthy eating while also creating new, more nutritionally dense foods. Ultimately, the goal of food and nutrition science is to improve human health by providing better insights into the role that diet plays in overall wellness.

The field of food and nutrition science is constantly evolving as we learn more about the complex relationship between food and human health. To get started in this fascinating field, take a look at the Nutrition Science: Lifestyle Medicine course by the University of Aberdeen.

Food and mood

There is a growing body of research that suggests that what we eat can impact our mood and mental health. Studies have shown that people who consume diets high in processed foods and sugar are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety. Conversely, people who eat diets rich in whole foods, such as fruit and vegetables, are more likely to report higher levels of happiness and life satisfaction.

While the connection between food and mood is still being explored, it is clear that what we eat has a direct impact on how we feel. The Food and Mood: Improving Mental Health through Diet and Nutrition course by Deakin University and Food & Mood Centre delves into this subject in more detail.

Alternative diets

These diets typically involve eliminating or restricting certain foods, such as sugar, gluten, dairy, or red meat. Supporters of alternative diets claim that they offer a number of benefits, including weight loss, improved digestion, and increased energy levels. 

However, there is little scientific evidence to support these claims. In fact, some alternative diets can actually be harmful to your health. For example, restrictive diets can lead to nutrient deficiencies, and eliminating entire food groups can make it difficult to get the nutrients you need. 

Therefore, it’s important to approach alternative diets with caution. A registered dietitian can help ascertain whether the diet changes someone is considering are appropriate and healthy. In most cases, a balanced diet that includes a variety of nutrient-rich foods is the best way to maintain good health

Plant-based nutrition

Plant-based nutrition is considered by many as a sustainable diet that stays away from meat. It has become popular due to growing concerns about the effects of eating meat on the environment. This diet focuses on consuming only plant-based foods, including vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes, and nuts. It’s thought to be healthy as it’s rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Allergy-sensitive nutrition

Allergy-sensitive nutrition focuses on avoiding foods that trigger allergies, such as cow’s milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish. People aren’t always aware that they have food allergies, as the symptoms can be subtle.

This is why it’s important to be considerate of those who may have allergies and to be aware of potential allergens in food. For example, dairy products can trigger mild but nonetheless troubling reactions in some people, such as bloating and rashes – which can affect their overall wellbeing. So, it’s useful to be aware of the different types of reactions that can occur and how to manage them through diet.

What skills do I need to enter the nutrition industry?

It’s important to have a good understanding of human anatomy and physiology, allowing you to understand how the body processes food and how different nutrients impact health.

Secondly, you should be familiar with the principles of healthy eating. This includes knowing which foods to eat for optimal health and how to create balanced meals that meet individual nutritional needs.

Communication skills are necessary to be able to explain complex concepts clearly and concisely, whether you’re writing educational materials or providing one-on-one counselling. If you have these skills, you’re well on your way toward a successful career in nutrition. You can improve your own communication skills with Futurelearn’s Communication and Interpersonal Skills at Work course.

Careers in nutrition

There are several types of careers in nutrition, each with its own set of responsibilities. The most popular careers in the industry include being a nutritionist or dietician, or working in alternative therapies or scientific nutrition.

Nutritionists work in a variety of different settings, including hospitals, clinics, community health centres, schools, businesses and private practices. They provide advice on how to eat healthily, develop individualised meal plans and provide nutritional counselling. Nutritionists may also work with food manufacturers and retailers to develop healthy food products and promote healthier eating habits.

How to become a nutritionist

Nutritionists are experts in the field of human nutrition: helping people make informed choices about the food they eat to improve their health and well-being.

Becoming a nutritionist usually requires completing a Bachelor’s degree in nutrition, or a related field. Some employers may also require a certification from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

To find out more about what a day in the life of a nutritionist might look like, check out EIT Food’s video below:

How to become a dietician

Dietitians are similar to nutritionists, but they also have training in food science and the preparation of food. This allows them to work in settings like hospitals, where they can help patients choose the right foods to eat for their specific needs.

Becoming a dietician usually requires completing a Bachelor’s degree in dietetics, food science, or a related field. Dieticians must also complete a supervised internship and pass an exam administered by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Alternative therapies

Alternative therapy providers use nutrition to treat patients with conditions that are not helped by conventional medicine. This use of food as medicine includes using specific foods or supplements to improve symptoms and promote healing.

These alternative therapies are not always recognised by conventional medicine. To practice it, you may need to complete a training program offered by an alternative therapy school. 

Scientific nutrition

Food scientists study the composition of food and how it affects human health. They use this knowledge to develop new and healthier foods, as well as improve existing products.

To work in scientific nutrition, you’ll need to complete a Bachelor’s degree or higher in food science, chemistry, or a related field. A great course to get started with scientific nutrition is Queen’s University Belfast and EIT Food Introduction to Food Science.

Online nutrition courses

FutureLearn is not only an exciting and flexible way to learn, but it could also lead to better career prospects. With our outstanding range of online nutrition courses, you can develop the skills and knowledge you need to work in this fascinating industry. 

And the best part is, that you can do it in your own time with the help of world-class instructors. These courses can be a great way to get started in the field or to brush up on your knowledge if you’re already working in nutrition. 

Final thoughts

If you’re interested in a career in nutrition, there are many options available to you. Nutritionists and dieticians help people make informed choices about the food they eat, while food scientists study the composition of food and how it affects human health.

Whatever path you choose, a career in nutrition can be extremely rewarding and fulfilling as it offers a great opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives. With the growing landscape of this industry, there’s no better time to get started!

Related stories on FutureLearn

FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now