Careers in Nutrition and Physical Activity
On this webpage you will find general information about careers in nutrition and physical activity and links to useful websites.
The information on this page is intended to give the reader a brief idea of the type of work that each role is involved in; these summaries have been gained from Learn Direct, Skills Active, the British Dietetic Association, the Nutrition Society and Skills for Health. The list is by no means exhaustive. If you would like your role to be described on this page, please contact the project team.
Summary of some key job roles in nutrition and physical activity.
Public Health Practitioner
Anyone currently in a post where their work involves improving people’s health and wellbeing, taking precautions so as to protect health and wellbeing, or whose work has a direct impact on the health and wellbeing of communities and populations. This might be in a wide range of different work areas and in a wide number of different organisations. A wide range of qualifications may be acceptable dependant on the role.
Health Promotion Specialists
Health promotion specialists aim to educate people to live healthy lives. They work with hospitals, schools, workplaces, entire communities and individuals to improve the health and well-being of the population. An undergraduate qualification in a related subject is required, most continue on to a postgraduate qualification in health promotion or public health.
Research Assistants plan and conduct experiments and investigations to increase scientific knowledge in their area of specialism. An undergraduate qualification in a subject related to the research is required, most also have or continue on to a postgraduate qualification and/or PhD.
School nurses work with pupils, teachers and parents to promote good health and well-being in school age children. Requires an undergraduate nursing qualification and two years experience as a qualified nurse. A (shortened) degree or postgraduate course in Specialist Community Public Health Nursing (School Nursing) is available for this specialism.
Health visitors are experienced and qualified registered nurses or midwives who work to promote good health and prevent illness in the community. Requires an undergraduate nursing qualification and two years experience as a qualified nurse. A (shortened) degree or postgraduate course in Specialist Community Public Health Nursing (Health Visiting) in needed for this specialism.
Registered Dietitians are uniquely qualified to translate scientific information about food into practical dietary advice. As well as providing impartial advice about nutrition and health, dietitians also advise about food related problems and treat disease and ill health. To qualify as a Registered Dietitian an undergraduate degree or postgraduate qualification is needed. All courses include a period of practical training in hospital and community settings, approved by the Health Professions Council.
Dietetic Support Workers
Dietetic Support Workers work with registered Dietitians in either a community or hospital setting. An NVQ level 3 and experience in a healthcare setting may be required.
Food Scientist and Food Technologists
Food scientists and food technologists work in the food and drink industry developing, and ensuring the safety of, a wide range of products for consumers. BTEC, HNC/ HND or undergraduate degree in a relevant subject required.
Public Health Nutritionists
Work in health improvement, with groups or communities to promote health, wellbeing and reduce inequalities. Undergraduate or postgraduate degree required. The Nutrition Society has established a Register of Public Health Nutritionists there are minimum knowledge and competencies required to be on this Register.
Sport and Exercise Nutritionists
Promote nutrition exercise and fitness, as personal trainers or by working in the Sports, Fitness and Health and Recreation Industries.
Sports Development Officers
Aim to improve access to sport and physical activity for people of all ages and ability. They organise projects, programmes, information and training to encourage people to increase their activity and have a healthier lifestyle. NVQ level 3, undergraduate degree or equivalent required although this may not be essential with the right experience.
Pharmacists provide expert advice on the use, supply, preparation and effects of drugs and medicines. Community Pharmacists have routine contact with patients who have chronic conditions; they can identify individuals with risk factors for disease offering them lifestyle assessments. This can include offering opportunistic or targeted information and advice on diet and physical activity. A Master of Pharmacy (MPharm) degree is needed to become a Pharmacist with a one-year pre-registration training course in a pharmacy.
Plan, organise and take part in play and leisure activities for 4 to16 year olds. They work in various settings, such as breakfast clubs, after-school clubs, mobile playbuses and holiday playschemes. An NVQ level 2/3 in playwork or equivalent may be required.
Teach sports skills and techniques to individuals and teams of all abilities, from absolute beginners to top international professionals. They help people to take part in their chosen sport safely and to their full potential. A coaching qualification is needed which is recognised by the national governing body for the sport. BTEC, HNC/D and undergraduate degrees may also be necessary.
Sports and Exercise Scientist
Sport and exercise scientists apply scientific principles to the promotion, maintenance and enhancement of sport and exercise-related behaviours. An undergraduate qualification in sports and exercise science is required.
Youth and Community Worker
Youth Workers help young people to fulfill their potential in society. Programmes aim to engage young people and take action on issues, including health, affecting their lives by developing skills and attitudes.
It is possible to start as a part-time or volunteer youth worker without any qualifications then follow work-based training and go on to professional training. To become a professional youth worker, a recognised youth and community work qualification is needed such as a degree or postgraduate diploma. It is important to get experience of working with young people.
For more information and case studies on the types of careers accessible in the physical activity and sport, please visit the SkillsActive careers website.
If you’re looking for a career in nutrition and/or physical activity in Wales the following websites may be of use: