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Difference Between a Nutrition Coach and a Nutritionist

One of the most frequent questions we’re asked as a nutrition course provider is ‘What is the difference between a nutrition coach and a nutritionist?’.

If you’ve decided to work in nutrition, it is important to know where your qualifications can take you, and what career paths are available.

The differences between a nutritionist and a nutrition coach are:

  • A nutritionist will have studied nutrition at Uni and obtained a bachelor’s degree. A nutrition coach doesn’t need to.
  • Both nutritionists and nutrition coaches work in non-clinical settings, but nutritionists can work in government facilities and studies conducting research, including eating disorders.
  • Nutrition coaches are more public-facing than nutritionists and provide invaluable mentorship and support regarding food and drink.

Want to know more detail about the differences between a nutritionist and a nutrition coach? We’ve written this guide specifically to address that question.

We’ll be going into detail about what both roles involve, typical salaries, which courses you’ll need to pursue each role, as well as the crucial differences between the two jobs.

Click the links below to jump to the breakdown of the specific role, to answer your questions about being a:

Everything You Need to Know About Becoming a Nutritionist

Being a nutritionist allows you to use your expertise in diet and food sciences to help clients with specific dietary requirements and goals. They have degree-level Nutritionist qualifications and completed their bachelor’s degrees.

Already know what you’re looking for? Click the section below to jump straight to a topic, or scroll through to learn more about:

What Is a Nutritionist, and What Does a Nutritionist Do?

Generally speaking, a nutritionist is a food and nutrition expert who works in non-clinical locations to provide support, guidance and advice around the topic of food and drink.

Nutritionists are commonly qualified at the Nutritionist degree level (BSc) or higher and have to be members of the UK Voluntary Register of Nutritionists (UKVRN) if they want to use the title ‘Registered Nutritionist’ (RNutr).

Typical duties for a nutritionist include:

  • Offering health advice and promoting healthy eating habits
  • Advising about special diets such as keto, vegan, gluten-free or dairy-free
  • Providing education about nutrition through seminars and talks to the public
  • Supporting other healthcare professionals through consultations and advice
  • Researching specific nutrition-related topics for health, government, charity and university organisations.
  • In the health research sector, studying the associations between diet, disease and health and helping to create interventions.

Where Can I Work as a Nutritionist?

Nutritionists can work in any non-clinical setting, for example:

  • National and local government offices
  • Schools
  • Colleges and universities
  • Food industry manufacturers and retailers
  • Gyms, leisure centres and health clubs
  • Remotely (at home) if running an online nutritionist business


How Much do Nutritionists Earn in the UK?

It is best to break this down into employed and self-employed roles.


In employed roles, nutritionist salaries tend to be:

  • Between £15,000 and £25,000 for starting public sector roles
  • Between £20,000 to £25,000 for starting private sector roles.
  • Between £30,000 and £55,000 for more experienced, senior roles such as chair roles in a company.


The average self-employed nutritionist’s salary is extremely variable, depending a lot on pricing, the number of clients, and location (for example, if you are working in London, you are more likely to earn a higher salary).

Nutritionists generally charge:

  • £45 to £75 per hour for an initial consultation, followed by between £30 and £50 for follow-up sessions.
  • They might also charge £15 to £30 for recipe analysis and £30 to £50 for a larger diet examination.

So, an experienced nutritionist with a good roster of clients delivering 10 follow-up sessions, 4 initial consultations, and 2 diet examinations per week would be looking at £3,600 per month or £43,200 per year.

On average, the best evidence suggests between £22,000 and £28,000 per year.

What Do I Need to Study to Become a Nutritionist?

If you’re looking at how to become a nutritionist, you’re most likely going to need to start with an undergraduate degree in nutrition to give clients the best advice.

Top tip: you’ll also want to make sure that your nutrition course is Association for Nutrition (AfN) approved, so make sure to check their list of accredited degrees before enrolling.


In addition to your nutrition degree, you might also want to consider securing relevant work experience to help you stand out in the competitive job environment. Consider the kind of environment you would like to work in, such as a gym or an independent health centre, to gain some practical experience.


Everything You Need to Know About Becoming a Nutrition Coach

In this section we’ll be covering in detail the nutrition coach role; a role that allows you to work with clients one to one on a non-clinical basis, giving them exemplary advice about making healthy choices around food and drink and meal planning.


Already know what you’re looking for? Click on the topics below to jump straight there, or scroll through to find out answers to:

What is a Nutrition Coach?

A nutrition coach, sometimes referred to as a nutritional advisor, provides advice and guidance to individuals and small groups on topics relating to food and drink.


They are mentors that will help guide clients towards making healthy choices regarding nutrition and lifestyle, so they should have a thorough understanding of behaviour change coaching.


Typical duties for nutrition coaches include:

  • Running small classes or seminars on healthy eating, food choices and weight management
  • Offering 1:1 advice to clients (often as part of a personal training package)
  • Educational outreach and public engagement on how nutrition relates to health
  • Creating information packs, handouts and pamphlets on various nutrition topics
  • Providing online nutrition coaching and support

Generally speaking, the duties of a nutrition coach tend to be more applied and more public-facing than that of a nutritionist. As a nutrition coach, you’ll be unlikely to engage in research projects for government, charity or education bodies.

Where Can I Work as a Nutrition Coach?

Nutrition coaches can work in a variety of non-clinical environments:

  • Charities
  • Community outreach projects
  • Fitness companies, gyms and health centres
  • Remotely (from home) if running an online nutrition coaching business

How Much Do Nutrition Coaches Earn in the UK?

It is best to divide this into employed and self-employed roles:


On average, employed nutrition coaches can expect to earn around £22,000 per year, or £9-£15 per hour if working part-time/pro-rata.


Just like in the nutritionist role, self-employed nutrition coaches have incredibly variable salaries depending on location, experience, and the number of clients.

An experienced nutrition coach with a good roster of clients delivering 10 one to one sessions, 2 group sessions and 1 workshop per week might expect to earn £2,800 per month (or £33,600 per year).

On average, the best evidence suggests between £18,000 and £24,000 per year.

What Training Do I Need to Become a Nutrition Coach?

First things first, you do not need a degree to work as a nutrition coach/nutrition advisor.

What you will need, however, is a relevant nutrition coaching qualification such as our Level 3 Nutrition and Weight Management course or Level 4 RSPH Nutrition course which will cover topics like:

Top tip: When picking your nutrition coaching qualification, you’ll want to ensure that it is accredited by the Royal Society of Public Health (RSPH) who are a globally recognised mark of commitment to nutritional excellence. This will give you a better opportunity of securing jobs both in the UK and abroad (It also lets you put the letters MRSPH after your name).

Nutritional food

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