“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well if one has not dined well."
― Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own
Food is the soul of life, and whatever you do as an individual, you can never live without eating, more so, the importance of food in the body cannot be overemphasized. To keep your body, soul and spirit together, you must take good meal that would nourish your body, enable you to function well, and eventually aid proper growth.
Back in the year 460 BC, a renowned Greek physician called Hippocrates said: "Let food be thy medicine and medicine thy food." This is an indication of how important eating good food that nourishes your body is. Carefully selecting food items that are beneficial to your health is essential, while learning more from a nutritionist. At a tender age, it is firmly advised that you do not have to rely on medicine, as nutritious food contains all essential classes of food that serve as an energy source and further prevent any occurrence of diseases.
In the present age, there is an endless search for useful, helpful, and vital nutrition advice from an expert nutritionist in Nigeria today. Although, what has accelerated the demand for a qualified nutritionist is the health issues associated with a poor diet, which results in several diseases. However, such illnesses can be prevented through proper care and eating of nutritious meals.
In today's world, a nutritionist is considered to be an individual who has been trained and certified to advise other people on matters relating to food, proper nutrition, and its impact on their general wellbeing. Also, such individuals can further specialise in several areas like sports nutrition, animal nutrition, public health nutrition, amongst other relevant disciplines that exist under the nutrition field of study.
How to become a nutritionist could be one of your important questions you might think of during your secondary school education, or you have just developed a significant interest in this fantastic career line. You would want to sit tight and study this guide to becoming a professional nutritionist.
Necessary qualifications you would need to become a professional Nutritionist in Nigeria
Indeed, in any form of profession, few individuals work in that profession without having any institutional degrees or qualifications in such a field. While the majority practicing the profession has undergone the necessary education and training at the four walls of higher institutions, where to study nutrition is a piece of crucial information you need to know if you want to become a nutritionist.
To be qualified as a licensed nutritionist in Nigeria, you would need to have undergone a 4 or 5 years degree program in an accredited university in Nigeria. Also, you might have your nutrition-related study in polytechnics or colleges of education accredited to award such certificates. Generally, in the Nigeria education system, students aspiring to become certified nutritionists would be required to participate in a broad multidisciplinary course exposing them to several aspects of medical science, food science, and a part of human anatomy.
There are speculated undergraduate courses and also postgraduate courses to be studied depending on the institution attended. After graduating with the required grade points, a B.Sc, B.Tech is awarded to the student depending on the institution.
Part of the expected knowledge to have been gathered through the undergraduate courses includes researches, food therapy, food combinations, and many more. Universities like Imo State University, Bells University of Technology, University of Nigeria, Nasarawa State University, Wesley University Of Science And Technology, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, University of Agriculture Abeokuta are the foremost institution offering Nutrition and Dietetics courses in Nigeria.
Although other colleges are offering Nutrition-related courses, the above information covers the primary aspect of how to become a nutritionist in Nigeria. Also, you are expected to have at least credits in the following O’level courses, English Language, Physics, Mathematics, Chemistry, and biology. More so, the four courses to be attempted in the UTME would include English Language, Physics, Chemistry, and biology.
How much money does a nutritionist make in Nigeria
The amount of money made depends on the years of experience, the number of jobs at hand and also the number of clients. Also based on specialisation and educational level, the salaries and take-home pay after consultation with clients would differ.
- Entry Level Nutritionist/Internship: on average, for an entry-level nutritionist in Nigeria, the salary revolves around ₦55,000 and ₦60,000 monthly, though, the amount paid could be based on several factors such as city of residence, employer (Federal government, State government, Local government, or Private Sector), and grade graduated with from the university. Additionally, other factors that could determine the amount of money earned by an entry-level nutritionist could be based on the completion of the National Youth Service Program.
- Mid-Level/Experienced Nutritionist/General Nutritionist: a nutritionist that has a bit of experience or has been certified by the regulatory body for nutrition practitioners in Nigeria earn higher than the entry-level nutritionist. They earn a salary starting from ₦90,000 to about ₦120,000, which could be higher or lower depending on the sector the individual works for.
- Specialized Nutritionist: indeed, to become a specialized nutritionist in Nigeria, advanced education and certification are needed, for example, a Master's degree, or specialized certification in or outside the country. Furthermore, based on location and the employer also, and the area of specialization, they make about ₦200,000 and above. As a senior nutritionist, specialized in the health sector or sport, the range of pay could be pegged at about ₦500,000 and more.
You might then be thinking of how to become a registered nutritionist in Nigeria?. Being a qualified and licensed nutritionist in Nigeria is a bit easy and less complicated like some other professions. You are expected to register with the Institute for Dietetics in Nigeria, after graduating from the university and you will be awarded a yearly practice license. After you have been tested and ascertain that you are qualified to be a nutritionist, then you can carry out nutritionist jobs fully.
Different sectors and areas you can work as a nutritionist
As a nutritionist, you are trained to help clients or patients as the case may be and provide relevant nutritional advice and food combinations that would restore their health. More so, developing meal plans and evaluating the effect of the meal is another aspect covered by a nutritionist. Sectors you could work as a nutritionist include:
- Schools: Generally, secondary schools, either a boarding house or a day school, need the hand of a qualified nutritionist to guide them on how to provide a healthy and nutritious meal for the students. Also, the staff is not left out as they would need a nutritious meal to be able to perform optimally. Classroom presentations and other methods can be used to educate students on the importance of nutritious meals.
- Hospital: Essentially, several patients are just recovering from major health issues and would need expert advice on what type of food would help them regain their health faster and provide them with a stronger body. Nursing mothers, children, and elderly patients would be advised by the hired nutritionist in the hospital.
- Private sectors: Certainly, there are some private institutions that hire nutritionist through the platform of nutritionist jobs HMO, and they utilise the services of the nutritionist to guide them on the type of meal combinations that are nutritious for their patients/clients.
- Freelancing: Aside from the options mentioned above, you can be a freelance nutritionist that can be consulted by several individuals, cooperate entities, and other health institutions. As a freelancer finding clients would solely depend on how you advertise and inform people around you about your services.
How To Become A Sport Nutritionist
The ultimate goal of a sports nutritionist is to work with the clients (athletes) to achieve a perfect sporting lifestyle. Also, they develop varieties of nutrition plans, advising their athletes on the best eating practices, and helping them achieve a healthy lifestyle.
Furthermore, they stay updated about the new nutritional innovations, while researching new trends that fit their clients’ needs. The effect of food on athletes is entirely understood both positively and the other way; this then has raised the need for sports nutritionists in the country.
To meet the required demands of athletes, a sports nutritionist needs to be qualified and understand the dynamics of the profession before practicing. Indeed, a nutritionist would always avoid any diet that might cost the athlete his/her gold medal due to poor performance. As an individual interested in becoming a sports nutritionist, you have to earn your bachelor's degree from an accredited institution in nutrition. While the coursework you needed to study includes food science, kinesiology, biology, chemistry, and other related courses.
Imperatively, while trying to build your career as a sports nutritionist in Nigeria; attending sports education short courses, physical health education is important. To be a more successful nutritionist you have to certified, and licensed by both the deities association and also by the sport regulatory bodies.
Ways To Be A Certified Nutritionist Without A Degree
Obviously, the right channel and process of becoming a licensed nutritionist in Nigeria require you to have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university and register with the regulatory body. However, there are some exceptional cases where practicing individuals go through apprenticeship might be certified after some years of experience and understudying the profession. Also, such individuals can upscale their knowledge by studying online courses and get certified by reputable online institutions that have a standardized curriculum.
In general, there are several aspects of the profession that could be explored based on your participation or further research through institutions that offers the courses. More so, you can also run a nutritionist business while working for the government, schools, or hospitals, and you could make extra cash from such.
Another silent part of the nutrition profession in Nigeria is the sports nutrition aspect, which requires you to have further education in the line of sport and fitness niche before becoming certified. Majorly, your job would be drifted to helping athletes achieve their unique figure and also helping them maintain a balanced healthy lifestyle while preparing them for all competitions.
Reading through this would have given you a broad overview of what a nutritionist job is and what they can achieve in society. More so, you would also have understood how to become a professional nutritionist in Nigeria. Picking up a Nutrition course in any of the Nigerian universities would expose you to this ever dynamic profession and also a life as a nutritionist.