Choosing the best nutrition certification is an important career decision. The courses aren’t cheap and they don’t all qualify you to become a nutritionist, so it’s vital to select the right one.

In this article – we outline the top nutrition certifications (including pricing, curriculums, requirements) and what to consider when choosing the best one for you.

  • What to consider
  • NASM
  • ACE
  • ISSA
  • Precision Nutrition
  • Human nutrition degree
  • One to avoid
  • FAQs

What to consider when choosing a course

A few years ago I completed a Master’s degree in nutrition. Choosing which course to go for was tricky and daunting. They all seemed to cost a lot of money so I didn’t want to make the wrong choice.

Thankfully, the course I opted for was excellent. After a year, I had the qualification I needed to become a nutritionist. But what if you don’t want to spend that long studying? Or you’re just interested in improving your knowledge rather than a full-time nutrition career? 

Whatever your reason for considering a nutrition certification, here are some criteria that will help you decide…

  • Is it an accredited nutrition certification? 
  • Is the training provider credible and well-respected?
  • Does the delivery format (online, in-person, blended) match your learning style?
  • Will you gain a recognised qualification at the end?
  • Does it cover the topics you need (e.g. as a stepping stone towards dietetics) or are interested in (e.g. sports nutrition)?

Let’s look at the top certifications currently available in the industry

We may receive a commission if you choose the purchase some of these courses, but that never influences what we write about them and doesn’t affect how much you pay.

NASM Nutrition Coach Certification

This NASM course is the best one for beginners as it covers all of the fundamentals and doesn’t require any prior knowledge. The course covers…

  • Nutrition science
  • Behaviour change strategies
  • Nutrition coaching strategies

There aren’t any prerequisites for the course so you don’t need to be a qualified PT to apply for it. This course doesn’t qualify you to work as a nutritionist but will help you coach your fitness clients on healthy eating. 

  • Cost: $899
  • Duration: 4-10 weeks, self-paced
  • Format: online
  • Qualification at end: non-accredited certificate
  • Continuing education credits: 1.9 NASM CEUs, but it’s also recognised for CECs by other training providers like ACE, AFAA, EREPS, and others.

NASM also offers a sports nutrition certification – learn more here if you’re specifically interested in that. 

ACE Fitness Nutrition Certification

This course is aimed at personal trainers and those specifically interested in the link between nutrition and fitness. It covers…

  • How to work with clients
  • Behaviour change and managing relapses
  • Nutrition labels, grocery shopping, meal prep, and recipe ideas
  • Scope of practice (i.e. what PTs can do and what should be referred to a dietitian)
  • Sports nutrition for health professionals

We really like that their certification is delivered by a dietitian and qualified MD, so you can be confident that the content is scientifically sound. The curriculum also has a great balance of evidence-based science (behaviour change) and practical applications (meal planning, supermarket tours). 

It does assume some prior knowledge as it’s for qualified personal trainers, so knowing your macros from your micronutrients is a helpful baseline. For those just starting out, they also offer a bundle that combines their PT certification with a Precision Nutrition certificate (more on that later).  

  • Cost: $699-$799
  • Duration: at your own page
  • Format: online
  • Qualification at end: certificate
  • Continuing education credits: 2.5 ACE CECs, but it’s also recognised for CECs by other training providers like ACSM, AFAA, NASM, NCSF, NFPT, and others.

Like the NASM certification, it won’t qualify you to be a nutritionist but will enable you to coach clients. 

ISSA Nutritionist Certification

ISSA’s Nutritionist Certification is also designed specifically for personal trainers and fitness coaches. It covers…

  • Macro and micronutrients
  • Lifestyle changes and strategies
  • Client assessment and goals setting
  • Product labels and claims
  • Dietary guidelines and applications
  • Trending diets and myths
  • Supplementation
  • Business of nutrition coaching

It’s important to note that despite the name, this wouldn’t qualify you to be a nutritionist in the UK. You need a degree approved by the Association for Nutrition (AfN) for that. 

  • Cost: $799 (but you can sometimes find good deals and discounts on it)
  • Duration: at your own page
  • Format: online
  • Qualification at end: non-accredited certificate
  • Continuing education credits: 20 ISSA CEUs, 10 EREPS LLCs.

You might also like… Top nutrition courses.

Precision Nutrition Certification

Precision Nutrition is one of the biggest names in the industry. Their certifications are well-respected and they constantly innovate to stay up-to-date with the latest scientific developments. The level 1 PN certification covers…

  1. The Precision Nutrition approach (client coaching strategies)
  2. The science of nutrition (nutrients and physiology)
  3. Working through the Precision Nutrition coaching process (coaching and business strategies)

These guys are specialists, they REALLY know they’re stuff. So if you register for one of their certifications, you’ll be learning from the best in the industry. Their blog and podcast are both excellent sources of nutrition knowledge too.

  • Cost: $999-$1428 (but you can get better value bundles via ACE and skip the waitlist too)
  • Duration: 4.5 months or at your own page
  • Format: online
  • Qualification at end: non-accredited certificate 
  • Continuing education credits: suitable for CECs with leading training providers including ACE, NASM, ISSA and others.

Human Nutrition Masters Degree

This is the nutrition degree I did in the UK (Chester) and qualified me to become a nutritionist. Because I had a bachelors in sports science, I chose to do a one-year Masters rather than another 3-year bachelors. This way was much cheaper and built on the foundational knowledge I already had.

The course covers…

  • Human metabolism
  • Nutrition in health and disease
  • Nutritional assessment
  • Principles of nutrition
  • Public health promotion and nutrition policy
  • Research methods and data analysis

I found the research and data module especially useful since it teaches you how to evaluate scientific papers. When I studied it, there was also a brilliant sports nutrition module but it looks like that’s been removed since. 

There were several other personal trainers on the course, along with people who were studying it in order to be accepted onto dietetics programmes. 

  • Cost: $9300 (£7515)
  • Duration: 12 months
  • Format: combination of in-person lectures and distance learning
  • Qualification at end: MSc 

The price is eye-watering, but it’s the cheapest way to become qualified as a nutritionist. There was only one other AFN-approved course that was cheaper, but that was located in London so living costs would have been significantly higher overall.

I was able to earn the money back within a year through freelance nutrition copywriting projects. As a nutritionist, I was in high demand from supplement companies, so it was worth the initial investment. But if you’re a personal trainer who simply wants to give great nutrition advice to clients, then one of the other courses is probably sufficient.

You might also like… Social media ideas for dietitians & nutritionists.

Which nutrition certification should be avoided?

We’d recommend avoiding any nutrition certifications advertised on Udemy. Don’t get us wrong, it’s a fantastic site for cheap training. But it’s not the best place to get certified.

The problem with nutrition courses on Udemy is that they’re often based on people’s experience rather than science. And this can be dangerous, because anyone giving advice that can affect people’s health needs to take an evidence-based approach. 

Once you are certified, you’ll understand how to weigh up the nutritional claims made by these courses, so you can consume them to your heart’s content! Some of the topics are super-interesting so we’re definitely not dismissing Udemy as an education source completely. But you need the foundational knowledge in order to judge what’s legitimate info and what’s pseudoscience quackery.

The other thing to watch out for is that they promise ‘certificates’ which can cause confusion among students. If they’re giving you a certificate then that must make you certified at the end, right? Unfortunately not…

They offer them because they know this is what people want, but they aren’t worth the paper (or PDF in most cases) that they’re printed on. Employers won’t recognise these random courses so stick to approved providers. 

FAQs

Here are some of the most common questions people have on the topic…

Which nutrition certification is best?

If you want to be a nutritionist or dietician, then a nutrition degree is essential. However, if you’re a fitness or health professional who wants to expand their nutrition knowledge, ACE, NASM, ISSA or PN are all excellent.

How much does a nutrition certification cost?

They typically cost between $499 (if you take advantage of discount deals) and $9,300.

What is the best nutrition qualification in the UK?

If you want to be a nutritionist, then you’ll need a bachelors or master’s degree in nutrition that’s approved by the Association for Nutrition. If you want to be a dietician, then you’ll need a dietetics degree.  

Best Nutrition Certifications Pinterest