Nutritional therapists base their careers around the adage “you are what you eat”. Because they aren’t doctors, they can’t claim to cure diseases – instead, they try to help alleviate health problems and promote wellbeing through nutritional means.
Nutritional therapists assess, through one-on-one consultations, questionnaires and laboratory tests, their clients’ dietary and health problems. Using these assessment methods, they work out which nutritional factors are affecting their health and address them through dietary plans and nutritional guidance.
It’s a complementary therapy, designed to help out with health problems which are difficult to treat. They might work with patients with digestive disorders, bowel disorders, skin problems, depression, fatigue and auto-immune diseases.
Unlike dietitians, nutritional therapy consultants can’t currently work for the NHS, so the majority are self-employed. Nutritional therapists usually run their own “practices”, so they’ll have managerial, marketing and administrative duties as well.
Salary & benefits
Starting salaries for nutritional therapists might be around £15,000, rising with experience and business growth. Most nutritional therapists are self-employed and might charge between £40 and £120 for consultations.
Salaries will largely depend on the nutritional therapist’s reputation, experience, and how well they market themselves. Nutritional therapists will be constantly looking for new clients as their earnings depend on the number of appointments they get.
As most nutritional therapists are self-employed, working hours will vary depending on the number of appointments they have weekly. Weekend and evening work might be required to accommodate clients.
You don’t need to have a degree to become a nutritional therapist, but nutritional therapists should enrol on clinical courses offering training in nutritional therapy accredited by the Nutritional Therapy Council (NTC), or join a relevant professional body, such as the Association of Naturopathic Practitioners
Candidates for courses should have studied science to at least an A-Level standard.
Nutritional therapists will need motivation to build their own business and have strong business, marketing and administration skills. They should also have great interpersonal and communication skills as they’ll be working with clients in a one-on-one environment.
Training & progression
Unlike healthcare professions, nutritional therapists don’t have to be registered with a regulator. However, the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC) does have a register of qualified nutritional therapists that individuals may wish to join.
There are other professional bodies, such as the British Association of Applied Nutrition and Therapy, with whom therapists may want to take out membership with, but this is by no means obligatory.