Do you want to become a Nutritionist or Dietician after 12th standard? If yes, this article will be of help to you. In this article, details about different nutrition and dietetics courses have been provided. The article covers details like course details, eligibility criteria, admission process, PG courses, career prospects and salary details.
Who is a nutritionist or dietician? What are his/her tasks? What’s this field all about? What’s the job profile like? You will find answers to these questions in the following paragraphs.
Nutrition and Dietetics: An Introduction
In simple terms, a nutritionist is a person who advises on matters of food and nutrition impacts on health. Based on the person’s qualification, he/she may work as nutrition scientist, public health nutritionist, dietician nutritionist, clinical nutritionist or sports nutritionist.
On the other hand, a dietician mainly deals with dietetics. Regulation of diet according to the nutritional and calorific needs of the patients or clients is what a dietician takes care of. To practice as a dietician, a professional license and recognition from relevant authority/governing body is required.
In India, Indian Dietetic Association (IDA) is the authoritative body that takes care of licensing and membership of practicing dieticians.
Dietetics is the science of diet and its effects on human health. This field focuses on the scientific understanding of nutrition and its practical application in the field of healthcare and rehabilitation of patients.
While nutritionists and dieticians are quite similar in many ways, there sure exist few differences between these two professions. To become a professional nutritionist in India, there is no need to obtain license. But to become a Dietician, one must possess license and become RD (Registered Dietician).
Common tasks of nutritionist or dietician include-
- Scientific study of nutrition and food science
- Provide guidance on eating habits and nutrition to people
- Plant diets according to the needs of patient/client
- Conduct or take part in research activity (depending upon qualification)
Though nutritionists and dieticians share many common tasks, an RD (Registered Dietician) is more like an allied healthcare professional.
An RD is more involved in the healthcare setup. He/she can be seen working in hospitals and clinics, monitoring patients and preparing diet plans for them. RDs work in tandem with consulting Doctors. They observe the Doctor’s diagnosis and inputs, and prepare diet plans for patients based on those observations and inputs.
Other than healthcare centres, they can also be seen working at fitness centres, sports centres and their own clinics. A nutritionist is more involved in the research and food manufacturing sectors.
Like other professional courses, nutrition and dietetics courses are available in 3 formats in India. They are Diploma courses, Undergraduate (Degree) courses and Postgraduate (PG) courses (Certificate courses are also available, but they are not highly valued or detailed). Let us check out each course format and find out vital details about them-
1 Diploma Courses
- Diploma in Nutrition and Health Education
- Diploma in Dietetics
- Diploma in Nutrition and Dietetics
- Diploma in Food Science and Nutrition
- Diploma in Dietetics and Clinical Nutrition
- Diploma in Nutrition and Food Technology
Course duration: Regular Diploma course is 2-3 years long. Depending upon the institute, course duration may vary. Some institutes are known to offer distance education course format. Course duration may differ, when considering such course formats.
Eligibility criteria: 10+2 passed from a recognized board (or equivalent).
Admission process: Depending upon the institute, it could be direct admission process or merit based admission process.
Further studies: Valid Diploma certificate holders may pursue relevant Bachelor’s Degree course. B.Sc. Degree can then be followed up with PG Degree or PG Diploma courses.
2 Bachelor’s Degree Courses
- B.Sc. in Clinical Nutrition
- B.Sc. in Nutrition and Dietetics
- B.Sc. in Food Science and Nutrition
- B.Sc. in Applied Nutrition
- B.Sc. in Dietetics
- B.Sc. in Home Science (Nutrition and Food Science specialization)
Course duration: Bachelor of Science Degree course is 3 years long.
Eligibility criteria: 10+2 Science stream passed from a recognized board (or equivalent).
Admission process: Depending upon the institute, it could be direct admission process or merit based admission process. When it comes to merit based admission process, marks scored students in board examination and/or relevant entrance test are taken into consideration. Based on merit marks, seats will be allotted to deserving candidates.
Further education and PG courses: Bachelor of Science Graduates may go for PG Degree or PG Diploma courses. M.Sc. is the most popular PG Degree course out there. PG courses and details related to them have been discussed in detail below-
3 PG Courses & Further Education
Graduates have handful of PG courses to choose from. M.Sc. and PG Diploma courses can be used to specialize in disciplines such as-
- Clinical Nutrition
- Paediatric Nutrition
- Public Health Nutrition
- Food Science/Technology
- Sports Nutrition/Dietetics
- Gerontological Nutrition
- Renal Nutrition
Some of the well known PG courses available in India are- M.Sc. Clinical Nutrition, M.Sc. Food Science, M.Sc. Public Health Nutrition, M.Sc. in Food, Nutrition and Dietetics, PG Diploma in Therapeutic Nutrition, PG Diploma in Sports Science and Nutrition, PG Diploma in Food Science and Nutrition.
Course duration: M.Sc. course lasts for a period of 2 years. PG Diploma course lasts for a period of 1 year.
Eligibility criteria: Must possess relevant Bachelor’s Degree from a recognized University/Institute. Minimum aggregate marks required could be around 50-55% (or equivalent grade).
Further studies: After Master’s or PG Diploma course, you may go for further advanced (relevant) programs like M.Phil. and PhD.
Career prospects and job opportunities
Diverse job opportunities exist in front of nutritionists and dieticians in India. Both Government and private sector job opportunities are available in front of them.
Nutritionists or dieticians may build a career in the following sectors- R&D (Research and Development), Healthcare sector (hospitals, clinics, health centres etc), Government schemes and organizations, NGOs, Teaching and Education sector.
To build a career in the R&D sector, qualifications like M.Phil. and PhD will be of use. M.Sc., M.Phil. and PhD qualifications will also enable one to take up the job post of a lecturer or instructor.
Talking about Government sector, some of the well known recruiters include-
- Government hospitals
- Community health centres
- Government Schemes and Missions (like ICDS, NHRM etc)
- Government Organizations (like FNB, ICMR, Public Health Foundation etc)
- Government R&D units
- Government Nursing homes
- Government Nutrition Education Institutes
Coming to the private sector, some of the well known recruiters include-
- Private clinics and hospitals
- Nursing homes
- Food products manufacturing firms
- Pharmaceutical firms
- Private R&D units
- Private Nutrition Education Institutes
- Health Clubs
- Fitness Centres
- Sports Centres and Franchises
Other than the above mentioned jobs, self employment is another good opportunity available in front of nutritionists and dieticians. If one has access to decent financial resources and entrepreneurship skills, starting own private clinic or consultancy will be a good idea!
UN and International Organizations like WHO, UNICEF are also known to hire nutritionists and dieticians. In such a setup, nutritionists have to take care of community nutrition activities.
If you want to become a registered dietician (RD), follow the steps mentioned below-
How to become Registered Dietician in India?
Educational qualifications required: B.Sc. in Home Science (Food and Nutrition) or B.Sc. in Nutrition and Dietetics or other relevant B.Sc. course. After B.Sc., one must also complete M.Sc. or PG Diploma in Clinical Nutrition or Food & Nutrition.
After completing relevant B.Sc. and M.Sc. courses, one must go through 6 months long internship stint at any one of the many hospitals recognized by the IDA OR possess 2 years work experience at any multidisciplinary hospital as a dietician.
After satisfying the educational qualifications and internship period, one may appear for RD exam held by the IDA and clear it. After clearing the exam, one may register with the IDA and become a registered dietician (RD).
Starting salary depends on factors like ones qualifications, job profile, profile of the employer and job location. Depending upon the above mentioned factors, a nutritionist or dietician could earn anywhere between 10-20k Rupees per month (at start). After gaining work experience, this figure will increase. In case of Government job, the salary will be based on the pay band and scale.