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How to Become a Nutritionist For a Sports Team

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Whether you’re already working in the industry or looking for a change in career, this guide will tell you exactly how to become a nutritionist for a sports team!

We’ll cover steps to starting your career and discuss your options once qualified, covering:

Before we start, why not enquire about our Level 4 Advanced Sports Nutrition Course now to gain knowledge of the relationship between sport and nutrition.

You can also browse the whole range of our health and fitness courses by downloading our course prospectus here.

Qualifications Needed to Become a Nutritionist For a Sports Team

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The most popular route taken to become a nutritionist for a sports team is by investing in a degree in one of the following subjects:

  • Performance Nutrition
  • Sports Nutrition
  • Nutrition
  • Human Nutrition and Health

Just below, we’ll discuss how and why to gain this level of qualification, and share some tips for finding the best course to set you up for a successful career.

We’ll also discuss your options if you already have an undergraduate degree that is not in one of the subjects included above, explaining how studying a relevant MSc course could fast track you into this career.

Shortly after, we’ll discuss vocational qualifications, and whether it’s possible to pursue this career without going down the typical academic route.

 

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Becoming a Nutritionist For a Sports Team With an Undergraduate Degree

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Though a university qualification is a big investment, this is your ticket to working with some of the highest calibre clients and making a lot of money as a result.

You’ve got a few options in terms of the degree title that you choose, with most positions for elite teams hiring candidates with either a Sports Science degree or a degree specifically in Sports/Exercise Nutrition.

There’s a few different names for these degrees, specifically designed to prepare your for a career helping athletes and teams with their performance, including:

  • Sports and Exercise Nutrition
  • Exercise Nutrition
  • Performance Nutrition

As you can see from this job advertisement from Blackburn Rovers LFC, a team in the women’s championship, a degree is an essential requirement for working with more prestigious teams:

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As demonstarted in the 'qualifications required' section of this job advert, having either a Sports Science degree or a Nutrition degree specifically is a requirement to apply for this position.

What Should You Be Looking for in a Degree Course?

There’s a few key things you can look for in a degree course if you want to become a sports team nutritionist. We’ll have a look at a few of them and why they’re important.

#1 Look For an AFN Accredited Course

Degree courses should be approved by the AfN (Association for Nutrition), the body that regulates programmes and ensures quality of the particular qualifications and graduates to ensure they’re of the highest quality.

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If a course is AfN registered it means that it has passed the standards set by the organisation. Perhaps the most important reason this accredidation is that having an AfN accredited degree is often an explicit requirement for working with high-end teams.

For this reason, one of the best places to study to become a sports team nutritionist is Manchester Metropolitan University.

This is because not only is their course rigorous and contains all the foundational knowledge and key nutritionist skills you’ll need, it’s also AfN accredited. 

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If you’re looking for the right programme for becoming a nutritionist for a sports team, AfN have got a list of accredited programmes on their website for you to look through!

#2 Look For Courses With a Placement Year

Some universities will offer a ‘sandwich’ course option too, which offers students the chance to spend their third year of the course working in a placement gaining industry specific experience.

This is a great option because you’ll be making vital connections with industry professionals and getting the experience you need to work with clients when you graduate.

Manchester Metropolitan offers a placement year and has testimonials on their website from previous students and where they got to work as part of their course.

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You’re much more likely to get positions like these, with Team GB or a premiership football team, if you’ve got some experience with them already.

Sheffield Hallam is another university that’s AfN accredited and has the option to do a paid work placement year with some prestigious teams and groups.

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Choosing a course like this will massively increase your chance, like the university says above, of building “an eye-catching CV” and “enhance your professional development”.

Do You Need a Master’s Degree to Become a Nutritionist for a Sports Team?

There are two reasons you might need an MSc degree to become a nutritionist for a sports team.

Firstly, you could complete an MSc course to make your qualifications more relevant to this career if your undergraduate degree isn’t specifically in nutrition or sports nutrition.

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On the other hand, you could use an MSc to advance the knowledge acquired during your undergraduate degree, giving you an edge over other candidates when looking for a job. 

We’ll look a little closer at each of these options to see which you think applies to you and will help you most with how to become a sports team nutritionist! 

How to Use an MSc to Specialise in Nutrition

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Most UK jobs in sport nutrition will require you to have completed a BSc in a relevant subject but, if you’ve already completed an appropriate undergraduate degree, you won’t need to complete a whole other degree to get on to an MSc course!

If your undergraduate degree is somewhat related to nutrition, you could get accepted to an MSc programme. Some of those relevant subjects include:

  • Sports Coaching 
  • Nutritional Science
  • Physiotherapy

As we said earlier, it’s better to be as specific as possible with your studies to ensure you can promote yourself as an expert in the particular field of sports nutrition. 

 

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However, if you’ve already got a degree in a subject like ‘Coaching’ or ‘Physiotherapy’, completing an MSc in Nutrition can be the best way of specialising and getting access to high-end teams. 

This master’s programme at Northumbria University, for example, will accept applications from graduates of these disciplines:

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Liverpool John Moores University however, stipulates a relevant degree and/or work experience like Northumbria but is less strict on the subjects that are required:

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This makes more room for people who’ve done a subject that may be more loosely connected, like a biological science, physiotherapy, especially if there’s been nutritional components, to apply and get onto a Master’s course.

This is ideal if you’ve already got a science degree and have developed a passion for fitness and nutrition after graduating. 

If you’ve got a solid foundational degree at undergraduate level, you can specialise with your MSc and focus on trying to get experience of working with professionals or other “applied experience in sports nutrition”.

The Added Advantage of an MSc

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As well as a way to specialise, like we said earlier, having a master’s degree may be the thing that gets you a job if you’ve got more experience and qualifications than another person.

Though a lot of jobs won’t say that an MSc is mandatory, it will often be listed as something ‘desirable’ for a candidate to possess.

For example, this job advertised on the Association for Nutrition website, asks for an undergraduate degree with a postgraduate qualification as ‘desirable’:

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Though there’s an explicit distinction between the requirements of each of these qualifications, it may often be the only difference between you and another candidate.

This is why, regardless of your undergraduate degree, completing a Master’s degree can be a great way to secure a position in this competitive industry. 

Can you Become a Sports Team Nutritionist With a Vocational Qualification?

To go down the non-degree route means investing in a Level 4 Sports Nutrition qualification.

This is a more general qualification designed to give you the skills and knowledge to support people’s fitness goals with nutritional advice. 

There are no entry requirements for this type of course, it’s much more affordable than a degree, and there’s still plenty of avenues you can go down with it! 

You’ll learn about a huge range of topics including:

  • Tracking macro and micro nutrients
  • Understanding nutrition legislation
  • The relationship between nutrition and physical activity

This course is the best choice if you’re interested in becoming a sports nutritionist more generally or if you want to offer nutrition advice to personal training clients, rather than for a professional sports team.

Becoming a nutritionist for a sports team will pretty much always involve getting a degree, however, completing a Level 4 qualification can provide you with some relevant industry experience, helping you to get a better idea of whether this is the career or industry for you before committing to a degree

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For example, if you completed a vocational nutrition course and a personal training diploma, you could gain experience working with clients, writing meal plans, and getting more familiar with the relationship between sport or fitness and exercise. 

As well as offering you the chance to get a feel for whether you do want to pursue a career in nutrition, in the long term, having a vocational qualification and sufficient industry experience could help you to get registered with the AfN.

The AfN will consider registration from applicants without degrees who’ve got around 7-10 years of industry background.

What To Look Out For From A Vocational Qualification 

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You need to make sure the course you choose is accredited with CIMSPA and regulated by an Ofqual-approved awarding body, such as Focus Awards or ActiveIQ. 

CIMSPA accreditation works like AfN registration does but for vocational qualifications. It’s a stamp of approval on your certificate and indicates to clients that you’ve completed a reputable qualification that meets industry-set standards.

Ofqual is the government body responsible for setting the frameworks for vocational course levels in England. Ofqual regulation ensures that a course provides the same knowledge and training regardless of who the course provider is. 

 

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You could go down this route to become a nutritionist for a team eventually, once you’ve explored other areas of this career path. 

This way you’ll be exploring all sides of nutrition before specialising and seeing what your other options are!

The cost of a nutritionist depends on the levels of qualification, amongst other things, so ultimately the more qualified you are, and the more variety of experience you have, the more likely you are to gain those high calibre clients and positions!

Other Qualifications & Accreditations 

Depending on whether you want to become a nutritionist for a professional sports team, want to work locally, or with an amateur team, you’ll need to bear in mind a couple of extra qualifications.

As well as completing an AfN registered course, you’ll also need to be registered on the Sport and Exercise Nutrition Register (SENR). 

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This essentially acts as a stamp of approval to assure potential clients and teams that your experience is extensive enough to give professional nutritional advice.

In order to work for some of the most elite teams you’ll need to be ‘Practitioner’ registered which demands:

  • Undergraduate degree
  • Postgraduate/MSc degree in appropriate subject
  • 2 professional references
  • 2-3+ years of working in a sport and exercise nutrition role

Your undergraduate degree can be in a variety of subjects, which is stipulated in the guidelines for application:

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As you can see, this is another benefit of completing an MSc degree, especially if your undergraduate is in a more general ‘biological science’. 

To apply, visit The Association of UK Dietitians’ website and have a look at the evidence you need to provide to support each of your qualifications and your experience. 

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You’ll need to submit a portfolio containing the following items when you apply:

  • An up to date CV
  • Application form
  • Personal statement
  • Transcripts of qualifications
  • Competency framework document detailing evidence of your experience and how you can fulfil each thing on their list
  • A case study of your work with an individual or group to show your competency

Though this might seem like a lot of extra things you’ll have to complete, being on this register will mean you can work in the following areas:

  • Working for a premiership football team
  • Becoming a performance nutritionist for Olympic teams

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If you want to work with some of the top ranking sports teams, you’ll need to also invest in an ISAK qualification.

This is a qualification provided by the Institute for the Advancement of Kinanthropometry and is essentially a qualification in body composition.

Another significant organisation to be aware of for these positions is the British Association for Sport and Exercise Science (BASES).

You will see this stipulated on some job listings and it’s essentially a way of confirming you’re a sports scientist in the same way that SENR registration certifies you’re of the highest standard.

So, if you want to know how to become a nutritionist for a professional sports team, especially one of the bigger ones, investing in these other qualifications could be what wins you a job!



Career Options After Becoming a Nutritionist For a Sports Team

If you’re interested in becoming a nutritionist for a sports team, first and foremost you’ll need to decide which kind of team!

This won’t just affect your job prospects but also potentially the qualifications you’ll have to get and the experience you’ll need.

Becoming a Nutritionist for a Football Team

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If you’re here to learn how to become a nutritionist for a sports team, you’ll know that they’re the most competitive positions available, especially a sport like football. 

Despite this however, there’s a few things you can do, other than the vital qualifications, to give yourself an edge when applying for a role with a football team!

As we touched on earlier, you’ll need to be registered with SENR (Sports and Exercise Nutrition Register) in order to work with professional football teams.

Not every team will ask for you to be on the practitioner registration, so being at this more reputable level may be the thing that bags you a competitive position!

This is because one of the stipulations for being on the practitioner register is experience working as a nutritionist before:

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If you complete an internship, this can be one of the best ways to gain experience towards this demand as well as gaining the professional references you’ll need.

This paid internship from Mac-Nutrition is the perfect example of the kind of opportunity you could look out for:

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Working with these kinds of teams and people will give you experience towards the SENR registration as well as giving you something to set yourself apart in interviews. 

Everybody applying for a position with a football club will be able to say they have a passion for football and an existing knowledge of the sport. 

Outside of what’s explicitly required, it’s things like this, that show your dedication and give you some experience, that may ultimately secure you a position and set you apart.

Another one of the most important things when becoming a nutritionist for a sports team, like a premier league football team, is how nutrition will differ from player to player.

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For instance, looking at the distance covered by midfielders and the speed reached by strikers will determine the amount of protein and carbohydrates given in meal plans

In fact, professional football clubs now use GPS to track the movement and distance of players to aid their specific nutrition plans.

Studying up on this software, or being aware of how it works, is a good idea. If you can demonstrate this awareness it’s another thing that might make you stand out!

Becoming a Sports Team Nutritionist: Cricket Team

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Another option is working with a national cricket team. If you’re looking for how to become a nutritionist for a professional sports team, the main prerequisite is a familiarity with the sport and the demands on the particular players.

Though becoming a nutritionist for a cricket team will revolve around the mastery of a few crucial, holistic components of fitness, there’s a few other things to be aware of that could secure you a job.

One of them is getting some vital experience by volunteering with your local cricket club!

The England and Wales Cricket Board have got volunteer opportunities on their website where you can choose between the following:

  • Umpiring
  • Scoring
  • Coaching
  • Supporting a club or community centre

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You can also approach clubs in your area and volunteer your services, especially with coaching, to familiarise yourself more with the sport and gain some experience working with teams!

If you’re interested in coaching, and want to do a paid position, you may need to get a separate coaching qualification from the ECB we mentioned earlier.

You won’t need this if you want to become a nutritionist for a cricket team but working with a school team, or in a more professional capacity, is an option for legitimising your coaching!

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You can coach in this supervised way, like the most basic qualification, by volunteering! So, unless you think you might want to combine coaching and nutrition professionally, volunteering could be enough to impress people in a job interview and secure the position!

Becoming a Nutritionist For Team GB

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One of the most prestigious, and diverse positions available is becoming a nutritionist for an Olympic sports team!

These opportunities are predominantly posted on the English Institute of Sport website where they advertise current job listings.

They also have a course called Skills 4 Performance which is a workshop designed to introduce people to the world of elite sport.

The institute uses these workshops to seek out individuals that thrive in the environment and display the key skills needed to work with an olympic or paralympic team! 

So, completing this course could well be the thing that helps you to stand out and get access to teams as a nutritionist. You can find out more information by emailing the address on this page.

 

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Some of the Olympic sports teams you could work with, through EIS, include:

  • Cycling
  • Modern Pentathlon
  • Hockey
  • Sailing

Because of the huge array of different sports teams within the Olympics and the Paraympics this is a great way to develop your skills and potentially work with several different sports and teams.

With enough experience you’ve also got the option to work with different people at once too.

Nigel Mitchell for example, has worked as a nutritionist for sports teams and athletes respectively:

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As you can see, this is one of the most varied and exciting roles! It’s not just somebody who’s been working for 25 years that can have this much diversity in their job.

Emma Gardner, who we mentioned earlier, started off working with teams like this and was able to leverage that to other positions and progression over a much shorter time period.

If you’re interested in how to become a nutritionist for a sports team, and want to work with Olympic and Paralympic teams, remember to check out EIS’s website for up and coming roles or internships they may advertise!

If you’re finding this article useful, why not check out OriGym’s other nutrition articles to help boost your knowledge and learn more about becoming a sports team nutritionist?

What Salary to Expect if You Become a Nutritionist For a Sports Team

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Obviously you don’t just want to know how to become a nutritionist for a sports team, you’ll also want to know how you can make the most money doing so!

As with any job in fitness, it’s hard to determine the average salary for a role because a lot of different factors will affect how much you earn.

Job sites such as Glassdoor and Indeed will have average figures on their sites without considering:

  • Location
  • Particular roles or niches within that job
  • Style of position

For instance, the jobs included in the average below will include public sector jobs, which wouldn’t include working with a team:

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They will probably also contain plenty of positions in London which will be higher paid because of the higher cost of living and London wage!

Looking at the salary for a sports nutritionist holistically, including some of these things, isn’t impossible though and will give you an idea of how profitable it can be to work for a sports team specifically:

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According to Prospects, this is the salary range for a nutritionist depending on experience and seniority. 

When we look at a position for a prestigious team, you can see the upper limits of what you can earn:

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It’s worth noting that this position is pro rata too, and so doesn’t even represent the highest income available.

Salary will also depend on whether you’re working full time or part time and fulfilling a few different roles or working with several teams.

This can still be a really lucrative option. This position with the Pentathlon team, through EIS, is part time and so the figure is only a pro rata amount:

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So, if you want to become a sports team nutritionist this is a great option for building experience and figuring out which team you might want to work with by sampling a range of options!

 

Enquire to Become a Sports Nutritionist

Develop knowledge of all things nutrition with OriGym's Advance Sports Nutrition course!

Becoming a Nutritionist For a Sports Team: Job Description

If you’re interested in how to become a nutritionist for a sports team then you’ll have a fair idea of the nutritionist job description and what you can expect from the role.

However, becoming a nutritionist for a professional sports team will differ slightly depending on the sport and quality of the team you’re working with.

One of the biggest differences in roles is that working with professional teams will often mean working towards a particular competition and working in a higher pressure environment.

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Of course, this is reflected in the salary and the prestigious nature of the position. In fact, if you work your way up and become an industry professional, you can branch out into all kinds of potential industries and projects.

Take Mona Nemmer for example, who’s the head of nutrition for Liverpool Football Club. Her role involves a huge variety of things including:

  • One on one sessions with individual players
  • Cooking lessons with the team
  • Working with chefs to source quality ingredients 
  • Meal planning

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As well as this, she has now got her own book which includes recipes and nutritional tips for football fans! 

Working with top ranking teams will reflect in your own prestige and open up doors to different positions and a variety of roles.

Your role will hugely vary depending on which arena you go into whether it’s with a professional team, an amateur team, or you’re working with sports groups as part of a class or personal training.

All of these roles however, will have things in common. You’ll be performing tasks such as:

  • Holistic advice on nutrition
  • Nutritional advice for specific sports such as which food groups are best before and after training
  • Meal plans
  • Accountability sessions
  • Testing metabolic rate, weight, and body fat percentage
  • How to eat to maintain weight loss

Looking closer at this cricket job description will give you an idea of the some of the main tasks you’ll be performing in a role with a professional team:

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Running ‘educational programmes, individual consultations and group sessions’ are just some of the other exciting things you might have to do.

Hopefully this gives you an idea of the potential for variety this role has as there will be differences with each sports team to keep the role fresh and exciting wherever you work!

Before You Go!

Hopefully we’ve shown you how profitable and exciting becoming a nutritionist for a sports team can be, and the steps you need to take to get there!

Don’t forget to check out OriGym’s Level 4 Sports Nutrition vocational qualification to see what other avenues are available to you as a sports nutritionist.

Alternatively, download and browse our course prospectus to see what else you could do for a career in fitness!

Written by Jessie Florence Jones

Content Writer & Fitness Enthusiast

Jessie has a 1st class honours degree in English Literature from University of Leeds and an MA in English Literature from Durham University. Naturally Jessie has a real passion for writing especially about film, culture and wellbeing. Outside of writing she loves hiking, country walks and yoga, which she has been doing religiously over lockdown.

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