Nutrition Career in Kenya: Getting Started

Now that we’ve got the basics covered, let’s explore the exact things you need to know before you start carving out that career in Nutrition.

If you haven’t yet read the introductory article in this series, please do as some of the things we discuss here assume that you’ve read that article.

ADVERTISEMENT

Nutrition Programs and Professions

An image of a road sign with the word career.

As we pointed out, the main nutrition course that is offered in Kenya is called Nutrition and Dietetics. The course comes in a variety of flavours including certificate, diploma and degree levels and the training is regulated by the Kenya Nutritionist and Dieticians Institute (KNDI). This means that there are specific institutions that are licensed to offer the training

Typically, the certificate program lasts from a couple of months to a year, the diploma two to three years and the degree four years. This will however vary depending on the institutions.

For instance, private institutions may take less time compared to the public ones due to the lack of long holidays.

Beyond the degree programmes, there are also graduate/post-graduate programs offered in some Kenyan institutions that specialize in nutrition matters.

A comprehensive list of Nutrition Programs offered in Kenya can be found in the following links:

ADVERTISEMENT

Nutrition Professions

According to the Act that established KNDI, the body can issue certificates of practice to those registered in the following ways:

  1. Dietetic Technician – for certificate holders in dietetics
  2. Dietetic Technologist – for Diploma holders in dietetics
  3. Dietician – for degree holders in dietetics
  4. Nutritional Technician – for certificate holders in nutrition
  5. Nutritional Technologist – for diploma holders in nutrition
  6. Nutritionist – for degree holders
  7. Consultant Dietician – for dieticians who meet the requirements
  8. Consultant Nutritionist – for nutritionists who meet the requirements
  9. Licensed (Consultant) Dietician
  10. Licensed (Consultant) Nutritionist

This list is however not exhaustive and mostly forms the basis of the levels used by the government when employing nutritional professionals into government posts (primarily clinical nutrition). 

As such, the Private and NGO sectors will in addition to this have their own titles with regard to their job descriptions.

Note

  • There are special requirements in order to practice as a nutrition consultant. According to the act, a Consultant Dietitian/Nutritionist is a dietician/nutritionist of not less than 15 years standing with advanced training in dietetics/nutrition and who is so recognized by KNDI.
ADVERTISEMENT

Indexing of Students Studying Nutrition Courses

After enrolling into a nutrition program, KNDI expects students to register with the body, usually in the first year of study. They call this Indexing, and it costs Ksh.10,000.

But before you can index, make sure the institution you’re enrolled in is accredited by KNDI or at least has an interim licence.

The indexing procedure should ideally be facilitated by the institution, however due to the controversy that has surrounded the accreditation process of some institutions, you may be forced to do that on your own.

The indexing procedure is as follows:

  1. The application form is provided by the institution/department. It’s also available from KNDI’s website.
  2. The filled index form, receipt of payment and required documents are forwarded by the training institution or dropped at their offices. The required documents include:
    • Covering letter by the head of institution/department
    • Passport size photo
    • Certified copies of relevant academic documents – result slip, leaving certificate
    • Certified copies of national identity card/passport for Kenyans
    • Certified copies of valid immigration and passport documents for foreign students

After the verification and validation of the indexing documents, one is assigned a unique KNDI identifier (Index Number) including an indexing card.

Regarding the rather high indexing fee, KNDI affirms it’s required for facilitating the whole process of indexing, which includes an indexing package and the fees required for the professional exam one has to sit for before being fully registered as a Nutritionist/Dietitian.

The indexing package apparently includes the following:

  • Indexing card
  • Training file/syllabus or core curriculum
  • The KNDI Act
ADVERTISEMENT

Internship of Nutrition Graduates

After graduating from their respective degrees, indexed graduates are expected to undergo a one year internship to be fully registered. Since the programme’s inception, the internship has remained unpaid for the most part.

Diploma and certificates graduates are however exempt from the internship and are only required to sit an examination to be fully registered.

The internship process is facilitated by KNDI, which means, the body caters for the placement. T

he internship is divided into 6 distinct areas of specialization. They include:

  • Clinical Nutrition – Clinical Nutritionist
  • Clinical Dietetics – Clinical Dietitians
  • Community Nutrition – Community Nutritionist
  • Public Health – Public Health Nutritionists
  • Food Science and Technology
  • Food Service and Diet Therapy

Read more: List of KNDI Internship Centres

Since KNDI caters for the placement, only specific internship centres are accredited by them. For instance, not all government health facilities in Kenya are facilitating the internship program for clinical nutrition.

At the end of the internship, interns along with the diploma/certificates graduate sit for an examination on whose passing they become fully registered with a practising licence.

Note:

  • KNDI expects any student who did not graduate before 1st January 2014 to be indexed first after which they shall be subjected to the post-graduation internship programme. This is irrespective of whether they studied the old or the revised curriculum.
ADVERTISEMENT

Certification and Practising Licences

After completing the internship and passing the subsequent examination, KNDI holds a graduation ceremony for the candidates. The graduation includes certificate, diploma and degree holders.

Students graduate in one of the following categories:

  1. Certificate:
    • Nutrition and Dietetics Technicians
  2. Diploma:
    • Nutrition Technologists
  3. Degree:
    • Clinical Nutritionist
    • Clinical Dietitians
    • Community Nutritionist
    • Public Health Nutritionists

Graduates are thereafter issued with certificates and practising licences. As with any graduation, expect graduation fees.

ADVERTISEMENT

Licence Renewal

Once fully registered, KNDI expects registrants to renew their licences annually. A renewal fee of Ksh.2000 is charged for Kenyan citizens and $280 for foreigners.

For nutritionists that were already trained and working before KNDI set out the new
regulations, or those that are trained and want to practice in this profession, KNDI expects them to be registered as well.

The registration fee is KSh.5000 for Kenyans and East-Africans and $700 for those outside East African Countries.

Nutrition Associations and Unions

As with other careers, the nutrition profession in Kenya has bodies that promote the growth of the profession and that look after the interests of the nutrition workforce.

A long running association is NAK (Nutrition Association of Kenya) that was founded and registered in 1988 while the only union currently in place is KUNAD (Kenya Union of Nutritionists and Dietitians) established in 2017 by the interns of that year.

Working nutrition professions as well as graduates are encouraged to join these
bodies, particularly the union that aims to represent the rights and interests of nutrition profession in the country.

KNDI Location and Contacts

For those wishing to get more details regarding the institute’s activities other than what is presented here, we suggest you visit their website or physically at their offices. 

Their contacts are as follows:
Phone: 0112514865
Postal Address: P.O Box 20436-00100, NAIROBI – KENYA.
Email: [email protected]

The current location of their offices is in:
Mjengo, Mlolongo
Behind Valley View Park Estate,
Off Mombasa Road, Kenya

We believe that should cover most of the questions regarding where to start. KNDI is a key factor in all this and as such should be considered carefully.

This is article is NOT an endorsement of KNDI.


Leave a Reply

Share your thoughts or questions regarding the article.

Your email address will not be published.