Dietitian job profile | Prospects.ac.uk (2023)

Dietitians assess, diagnose and treat diet-related and nutritional problems and raise awareness of the link between food and health at both an individual and wider public-health level

As a dietitian you'll translate the most up-to-date scientific and public health research about nutrition into practical advice to help people make health-conscious decisions about food and lifestyle.

You'll treat complex clinical conditions such as:

  • chronic fatigue
  • diabetes
  • eating disorders
  • food allergies and intolerance
  • irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • kidney failure
  • malnutrition.

As well as working in the NHS and private clinics, you can also work in areas such as the community, learning disabilities, mental health, public health and acute settings. You will also advise on food and health policy at a national, local and individual level.

Dietitians are a key part of the healthcare team and are the only nutrition professionals that are statutorily regulated.

Responsibilities

When working in a hospital or community setting, you'll need to:

  • undertake nutritional assessments of patients with a range of complex medical conditions
  • educate and advise patients with diet-related disorders on the practical ways in which they can improve their health by supporting them to make appropriate lifestyle and food choices
  • devise, monitor, review and improve nutritional care plans
  • deliver group sessions to other healthcare professionals or patient groups
  • work with the patient and multidisciplinary team (including other healthcare professionals) to ensure patient-centred care is provided
  • liaise with hospital staff and external agencies to ensure the smooth transition of patients discharged from hospital back into the community so that they can continue to receive the dietary support needed
  • promote health and wellbeing by informing the public about the importance of diet and nutrition
  • educate other healthcare professionals about food and nutrition issues
  • advise hospital catering departments about any specific patient dietary requirements
  • support schools in the provision of healthy school meals
  • run clinics in hospital outpatients departments or GP surgeries
  • record all assessments and interventions, write reports and case notes, and maintain accurate records
  • prepare information packs, flyers and other promotional materials.

With experience, you may be involved in training and mentoring pre-registration students, as well as supporting and supervising less experienced staff.

If you're working with athletes and sportspeople, you'll need to:

  • advise on how diet can optimise their performance and recovery from injury
  • educate them to understand the physiology and biochemistry of different types of exercise and the role nutrition has in these processes.

In other roles, you may be involved in developing new food products and evaluating their nutritional content, setting up and monitoring clinical trials, or advising the food and pharmaceutical industry.

Salary

  • Jobs in the NHS consist of nine pay bands and are usually covered by the Agenda for Change (AfC) Pay Rates. Starting salaries for qualified dietitians range from £25,655 to £31,534 (band 5).
  • Dietitians at specialist level (band 6) can earn between £32,306 and £39,027. At advanced (highly specialist) level (band 7), you can earn between £40,057 and £45,839.
  • Salaries at clinical lead level are usually between £47,126 to £53,219 (band 8a). At the highest level, as head of a nutrition and dietetic service, for example, salaries can rise to £75,874 (band 8c).

There are on-call and special-duty allowances for dietitians working in the NHS. In London and the South East, a cost of living allowance is available.

Salaries outside of the NHS vary depending on the size of your employer, the nature of the work, and your skills and experience.

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Income figures are intended as a guide only.

Working hours

If you're working in the NHS you're likely to work a standard 37.5 hours a week. Elsewhere, you'll usually work 9am to 5pm, but may need to work some extra hours or weekends if required.

If you're self-employed, your hours will need to suit your clients' availability and may include evenings and weekends.

Job-sharing, part-time work and opportunities for career breaks are possible.

What to expect

  • Being a dietitian can be a very rewarding career as you're able to make a significant contribution to improving patients' health.
  • Patient caseloads can be challenging and require working closely with other healthcare professionals.
  • If you work in the NHS, you'll usually be based in a hospital, health centre or clinic and will have a private consultation room. Community dietitians may have to travel locally to meet clients. If you're involved in research, you may work in laboratories.
  • Jobs are available in most towns and cities throughout the UK.
  • Self-employment and freelance work are possible within a clinical setting, sport and private health sectors, as well as in the food industry, in public relations companies and the media.

Qualifications

To practise as a dietitian you must be registered with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC). To achieve this, you must complete an HCPC-approved programme in dietetics, either an undergraduate degree or, if you have a degree in a relevant subject, an approved postgraduate course. Programmes are also accredited by the British Dietetic Association (BDA).

For a place on an undergraduate course, you'll usually need three A-levels (or equivalent), including biology and often chemistry (or another related subject), as well as at least five GCSE passes at grade C/grade 4 (or equivalent) or above, including English and maths. Courses last three years or four years and applications are made via the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).

To be accepted on to a two-year postgraduate course (either a Postgraduate Diploma or a Masters in dietetics) you must have a life sciences degree, often a 2:1 or above, that contains an adequate level of human physiology and biochemistry. Relevant degree subjects may include:

  • biochemistry
  • biomedical science
  • health sciences
  • human biology
  • human nutrition
  • nutritional science
  • physiology.

Entry requirements vary between courses, so check with individual providers for exact details.

Both routes are full time and include a mix of theory and practical work placements in a hospital or community setting. Subjects covered include biochemistry, human nutrition, human physiology, diet therapy, pharmacology and nutritional medicine, as well as skills such as communication, professionalism, data analysis and research.

It's also possible to take a dietetic degree apprenticeship, which combines paid work as an apprentice in a dietetic setting with academic study at a university in order to complete the degree programme.

For a list of qualifying courses, search HCPC - Approved Programmes.

All eligible pre-registration undergraduate and postgraduate dietetic students studying in England can receive funding support of at least £5,000 per year. You don't have to pay it back and are still able to access funding for tuition and maintenance loans from the Student Loans Company. For more information, see Health Careers.

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For details of financial support available to students in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, see:

You'll also need satisfactory occupational health clearance and a criminal records check.

Entry into the profession without an approved degree or postgraduate qualification is only possible at the level of dietetic assistant practitioner. From here, your employer may support you in studying for an approved degree to then become a dietitian.

Skills

You'll need to have:

  • an interest in the scientific aspects of food
  • an interest in working in a care-based setting
  • strong verbal and written communication skills
  • the ability to explain complex ideas simply
  • excellent interpersonal skills to develop relationships with patients/carers
  • teamworking skills to work effectively as part of a multidisciplinary healthcare team
  • the ability to prioritise your work and manage a caseload
  • time management skills and the ability to work under pressure
  • IT skills to record and access patient records
  • a positive attitude and the ability to motivate others
  • understanding and tact to deal with sensitive issues
  • negotiation skills to help patients overcome barriers and create positive change
  • caring and compassionate approach to other peoples' feelings
  • willingness to keep up to date with current nutrition information and research.

You may also need a driving licence to travel to patients' homes or between hospital sites.

Work experience

Try to arrange a visit to a dietetic unit at your local hospital before applying for a course so you can get an idea of what the work is like and whether it would suit you.

You could also try to get some voluntary or paid work experience within a dietetic department to show your interest and understanding of the area. Contact the dietetic manager at your local hospital to ask about opportunities.

Working as a dietetic assistant practitioner or as a dietetic support worker provides a valuable insight into the role and shows your commitment. Experience in care work, with a nutrition-related charity or as a healthcare assistant, is also useful.

Find out more about the different kinds of work experience and internships that are available.

Employers

The NHS is the major employer of dietitians. Many work in hospitals or in the community, in GP surgeries and clinics for example. There are also vacancies available in the private healthcare sector. You may also work for:

  • local authorities
  • catering companies
  • care homes
  • the food industry and food and drink manufacturers
  • supermarket chains
  • trade associations and promotional groups
  • schools, universities and research establishments
  • pharmaceutical companies
  • the media
  • prisons
  • public relations companies
  • publishing companies
  • government and non-governmental organisations (NGOs)
  • professional gyms, sports clubs and Olympic camps.

Other opportunities exist in the workplace and in the voluntary sector and with international relief agencies.

You may need additional qualifications for working abroad, as British dietetic qualifications are not necessarily globally recognised.

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With experience, you may choose to undertake freelance work or set up in private practice.

Look for job vacancies at:

Specialist recruitment agencies such as Maxxima also advertise vacancies.

Professional development

Continuing professional development (CPD) is an important part of being a dietitian and is an essential requirement of continued registration with the HCPC.

As a registered dietitian you can become a full member of the BDA, which runs regular post-registration training. Sessions are usually organised by special interest groups within the association and focus on areas of expertise.

Courses in professionalism skills and leadership and management are also available. Food manufacturers also offer courses for dietitians about new products, and these are sometimes run via BDA branches. See the BDA Centre for Education for more details.

The BDA is also involved in a number of post-registration dietetic apprenticeships - the enhanced clinical practitioner and advanced clinical practitioner apprenticeships. For more information, see BDA: Apprenticeships.

You may wish to undertake postgraduate study in your area of specialism. Masters modules are available in areas of dietetic practice, which can be taken either as stand-alone or Masters programmes. Search for postgraduate courses in dietetics.

It's also possible to get involved in mentoring and teaching.

Career prospects

There is a clearly-defined route for career progression in the NHS, starting with a basic grade dietitian (band 5), moving on to a dietitian specialist role (band 6) and then the more advanced roles (band 7). Once you've built up experience, you may progress to management level with responsibility for a team, department and budget.

The path you choose will depend on your career interests, for example working in a community-based role in patients' homes or at a GP clinic. You may decide to specialise in an area such as gastroenterology, diabetes or cancer, or with a specific group of clients, such as children or elderly people.

Dietitians in the food and drink industry can move into product development and marketing roles. You may choose to do further training and move into teaching and research, and there are also opportunities in sport, health education, public relations, scientific research and journalism.

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Self-employment is also an option, providing the flexibility to choose how your career develops according to your interests. This might involve combining freelance work for organisations such as the NHS with other activities such as writing for health publications.

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FAQs

Is there demand of dietitians in UK? ›

The dietetic workforce is changing at great pace with the profession in demand to work across a variety of areas including health and social care, public health, industry, sports nutrition, research to name but a few.

Why should we hire you as a dietitian answer? ›

SUGGESTED ANSWER: “I am a passionate, reliable, and hard-working Dietitian who possesses the depth of knowledge and experience that always has a positive impact on the patients and clients under my care.

Is dietician a good career choice UK? ›

Dietitians in the food and drink industry can move into product development and marketing roles. You may choose to do further training and move into teaching and research, and there are also opportunities in sport, health education, public relations, scientific research and journalism.

How do you become a 7 band dietitian? ›

To work as a dietitian, you must be registered with the HCPC as it is a protected title, to register you will need an accredited degree in Nutrition and Dietetics or similar (BSc or MSc). For Band 7 roles, a masters is frequently required. It is also advisable to register with British Dietetic Association (BDA).

How much do dieticians make in UK? ›

The average salary for a dietitian is £33,888 per year in United Kingdom.

Are dietitians in high demand? ›

Fortunately for individuals interested in working in the field of nutrition and dietetics, this is one of those sectors boasting both high demand and high wages.

What are your strengths as a dietitian? ›

Most students develop those skills as they study the subject in college and graduate school and as they do their internships and residencies. Some of the characteristics that successful dietitians must have include being a good communicator, knowing how to solve problems, and knowing how to listen to their clients.

How do you introduce yourself as a dietitian? ›

For example, “Hi Mrs. Jones. My name is Courtney and I am the registered dietitian on this floor. I am here today to check on you and evaluate your nutrition status here in the hospital.” Now you have helped the patient know what to expect.

How many dietitians are in the UK? ›

There are currently just under 10,000 registered dietitians in the UK. Dietitians are qualified and legally regulated health professionals that assess, diagnose and treat dietary and nutritional problems at an individual and wider public-health level.

What are the disadvantages of being a dietitian? ›

Con: Working with patients who have a limited life expectancy can be tough. Many dieticians work in hospitals and private clinics and have to treat very sick individuals who need as much help as possible.

Is being a dietician worth it? ›

Job employment of dietitians is expected to increase by 9% over the next decade, making it a promising chosen career. Dietitians serve many roles in their community from working in hospitals administering care to patients to serving nonprofits providing nutrition advice to the general population.

How much do NHS dietitians earn? ›

How much does a Dietitian at NHS make? The typical NHS Dietitian salary is £38,687 per year. Dietitian salaries at NHS can range from £26,188 - £49,720 per year.

Is becoming a dietitian hard? ›

Becoming a registered dietitian is not a career path you should take lightly. Compared with nutritionists, it is a highly regulated industry that requires specific education, training, experience and licensure. However, it can be well worth it, considering the wages and your passion for helping others.

Can a dietitian become a doctor? ›

A nutritionist plans diets for patients after assessing her /his physical status , medical history etc . A nutritionist studies nutrition and dietetics as the main subject and specialises in certain areas like clinical , sports etc. He/she cannot be called a doctor unless he/she gets a Ph. D.

What type of dietitian gets paid the most? ›

High Paying Dietitian Jobs
  • Chief Clinical Dietitian. Salary range: $61,500-$111,000 per year. ...
  • Registered Dietician. Salary range: $57,000-$83,500 per year. ...
  • Research Dietitian. Salary range: $49,500-$80,500 per year. ...
  • Renal Dietitian. ...
  • Clinical Dietitian. ...
  • Outpatient Dietitian. ...
  • Administrative Dietitian. ...
  • Community Dietitian.

Where do dietitians earn the most? ›

Top 5 Highest Paid Dietitian Jobs by Work Setting
  • Private Practice - $129,100 annually.
  • Pharmaceutical/mfr/dist/retailer - $97,100 annually.
  • College/university/academic medical center - $82,000 annually.
  • Food mfr/dist/retailer - $80,000 annually.
  • Office - $78,000 annually.
27 Jul 2022

How much do private dieticians earn? ›

The average salary for a dietitian is £42,719 per year in London.

Is dietician a growing career? ›

Job Outlook

Employment of dietitians and nutritionists is projected to grow 7 percent from 2021 to 2031, about as fast as the average for all occupations. About 5,600 openings for dietitians and nutritionists are projected each year, on average, over the decade.

How can a dietitian make 6 figures? ›

The first way to make money as a dietitian is using your existing expertise and knowledge:
  1. Create online courses. ...
  2. Create eBooks, nutrition guides, or recipe books. ...
  3. Have a private practice on the side. ...
  4. Build up a nutrition social media and build it. ...
  5. Conduct medical reviews. ...
  6. Provide nutrition coaching.
2 Jan 2022

Are dietitians happy? ›

At CareerExplorer, we conduct an ongoing survey with millions of people and ask them how satisfied they are with their careers. As it turns out, registered dietitian rate their career happiness 2.9 out of 5 stars which puts them in the bottom 26% of careers.

Can Indian dietitian work in UK? ›

If you have trained as a dietitian overseas and would like to work in the UK, you will be required to register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). Registration with the HCPC is required to work as a dietitian in the UK.

Is dietician a good career choice? ›

' bogs down to the fact that it is a highly lucrative and well-paid job. A dietitian salary in India is quite high when one has achieved high prominence and excellence in the field. Here is a list of professionals who are highly paid when it comes to careers in nutrition and dietetics: Certified Nutrition Specialist.

What type of dietitian gets paid the most? ›

High Paying Dietitian Jobs
  • Chief Clinical Dietitian. Salary range: $61,500-$111,000 per year. ...
  • Registered Dietician. Salary range: $57,000-$83,500 per year. ...
  • Research Dietitian. Salary range: $49,500-$80,500 per year. ...
  • Renal Dietitian. ...
  • Clinical Dietitian. ...
  • Outpatient Dietitian. ...
  • Administrative Dietitian. ...
  • Community Dietitian.

How do I become a registered dietitian UK? ›

You must register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) to practice as a dietician in the UK. You can only call yourself a dietitian (or dietician) if you're registered with the HCPC .

How many dietitians are in the UK? ›

There are currently just under 10,000 registered dietitians in the UK. Dietitians are qualified and legally regulated health professionals that assess, diagnose and treat dietary and nutritional problems at an individual and wider public-health level.

Is being a dietitian stressful? ›

Dietitians have one of the least stressful careers out there. However, they do occasionally have to deal with intense situations. Anyone who just found out that they have a disease and need to change their eating habits isn't going to be especially pleased with the dietitian telling them such things.

Is nutritionist or dietician better? ›

Although dietitians and nutritionists both help people find the best diets and foods to meet their health needs, they have different qualifications. In the United States, dietitians are certified to treat clinical conditions, whereas nutritionists are not always certified.

What are the disadvantages of being a dietitian? ›

Con: Working with patients who have a limited life expectancy can be tough. Many dieticians work in hospitals and private clinics and have to treat very sick individuals who need as much help as possible.

Can dietitians make a lot of money? ›

The 2020 full-time average hourly wage rate for professional occupations in health (except nursing), which includes dietitians, is $43.74. The 2020 corresponding median weekly wage rate is $1,600, giving an approximate full-time annual salary for this employment sector of $83,000.

Do dieticians have good work life balance? ›

Working as a dietician can be great if you love to work with people and really want to make their lives better. Dieticians have decent work-life balance since they don't have to work on weekends and rarely work in the late evening.

Which country is best for nutrition jobs? ›

Australia is a great option as it has a large number of well respected nutrition courses, as does the UK and US. Alternatively, there are universities in the Middle East that offer popular nutrition programs, or you could also choose to study in Asian countries including Malaysia and Hong Kong.

Is becoming a dietitian hard? ›

Becoming a registered dietitian is not a career path you should take lightly. Compared with nutritionists, it is a highly regulated industry that requires specific education, training, experience and licensure. However, it can be well worth it, considering the wages and your passion for helping others.

Can you make 100k as a dietitian? ›

Many companies hire dietitians for coaching and counseling either in-person or virtual. These types of companies range from online apps, medical consulting firms, corporate wellness companies, and more. Online Coaching or Counseling Private Practice Dietitian. $100,000+ annually.

Can a dietitian become a doctor? ›

A nutritionist plans diets for patients after assessing her /his physical status , medical history etc . A nutritionist studies nutrition and dietetics as the main subject and specialises in certain areas like clinical , sports etc. He/she cannot be called a doctor unless he/she gets a Ph. D.

What is the difference between a dietician and a nutritionist UK? ›

The main difference between them are: Historically, dietitians have tended to be employed by the NHS or private hospitals to help improve the health of sick people through dietary intervention. Nutritonists have worked freelance with private clients using food to promote health. Dietiticans are State Registered.

How long does it take to train as a dietician? ›

This typically takes 4 years to complete as a mix of workplace learning and academic study at an approved university.

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