The study of Nutrition is based on a number of core sciences, including biology, chemistry, human anatomy, physiology and food science. When thinking about careers in nutrition, two job titles typically come to mind: dietitian and nutritionist. It is important to note that there is a difference between the two. The term dietitian is protected in New Zealand, which means you have to meet certain standards to call yourself a dietitian. The term nutritionist, however, is not protected therefore the title can be used freely by anyone- this could range from someone with a PhD in a specialty area of nutrition to someone with no formal training. Read the Dietitians NZ webpage for more info about the differences.
A Dietitian is a health professional with expertise in the effects food and nutrition have on our health and well-being. They are trained in the science of nutrition and diet therapy (clinical dietetics) and are qualified to work in areas that require nutritional assessment, prescription of special or modified diets and education and counselling of clients and other health professionals. They may work in a variety of settings ranging from hospital, community, public health, private practice, sports, research, education, business and the food industry.
To become a registered dietitian you need to first do an undergraduate science degree in nutrition from either
Followed by a Post-Graduate Masters in Dietetics from either
It is important to ensure that your undergraduate degree includes papers that are pre-requisites for the Postgraduate Masters in Dietetics.
Once qualified, dietitians must participate in a Continuing Competency Program set out by the NZ Dietitians Board and undergo regular auditing in order to maintain their practising certificate and to be able to legally call themselves a New Zealand Registered Dietitian. They also must adhere to a Code of Ethics and ensure the practice under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act. There is a complaint and disciplinary process available. You can find out more by visiting Dietitians NZ.
A nutritionist may also have expertise in the effects that food and nutrition have on our health and well-being. Like dietitians, nutritionists work in a variety of settings but may not work in a clinical dietetic role in public hospitals. As mentioned in New Zealand, to date, there is no legal regulation or control over the use of the title of Nutritionist. However, the Nutrition Society of New Zealand maintains a register of nutritionists who meet their requirements and may call themselves a Registered Nutritionist. To find a Registered Nutritionist in your region, click here.
To become a Registered Nutritionist you first must do an undergraduate science degree in nutrition from
You must also be a current member of the New Zealand Nutrition Society. The selection process is overseen by the Nutrition Registration Panel which is an expert group of Nutrition Society members representing academia, industry, government and private practice. Registered Nutritionists can work in a diverse range of settings. Registered Nutritionists work within their specific fields of expertise (as determined by the Nutrition Registration Panel), adhere to The Royal Society of New Zealand Code of Professional Standards and Ethics and must participate in Continuing Professional Development and Competency activities.
You can find out more about Registered Nutritionists by visiting www.nutritionsociety.ac.nz/registration
AUT (Physical Activity and Nutrition)
Ara Institute of Canterbury (Bachelor of Applied Science (Human Nutrition))
Massey University (including extra-mural options)
Unitec Institute of Technology (Diploma in Sport & Fitness Education)
University of Auckland (School of Population Health, Health Science, Science, Public Health degrees)
University of Otago
University of Waikato (Bachelor of Health, Sport and Human Performance)
Wintec (Bachelor of Sport & Exercise Science)
Note: not all of these courses will fulfil the prerequisites to become a dietitian or registered nutritionist.
PreKure – Offer free courses, short courses, Certificates and Advanced Courses online.
The Holistic Performance Institute
These courses include nutrition topics and are available at:
AUT – Certificate of Proficiency in Personal Training
Last modified: July 18, 2023