Dietitians are experts in dietetics who counsel others on how and what to eat. By using their professional knowledge, dietitians help people achieve their health goals through the maintenance of a healthy and balanced diet. They also provide patients with eating guidelines to prevent and overcome chronic illnesses.
Duties and responsibilities
- Assess client’s health needs
- Create a nutritional diet based on the clients’ needs and goals
- Develop a comfortable relationship with the client
- Advise patients on healthy eating habits
- Evaluate the effect of the diet plan and amend accordingly
- Create educational materials to aid patients
- Keep up-to-date records of all patients
- Host healthy eating clubs and present new research to the group
Skills and knowledge
AVERAGE WORKING HOURS
Standard business hours
Most dietitians work in the public health sector. Others work in hospitals and laboratories.
You could also find yourself working within a private clinic or independently from your own office space. This may involve late hours and weekend work to accommodate your clients’ schedules.
Working in hospitals or schools can be challenging, especially if you’re dealing with patients who suffer from diabetes, kidney disease or a food allergy. For this reason, it’s important to have a calm nature and be able to work well under pressure.
Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.
Bachelor’s degree in dietetics
To become a dietitian, you must complete a bachelor’s degree in dietetics or foods and nutrition, which typically takes four years to complete.
You’ll also need to complete a dietetic internship, which can be completed alongside your bachelor’s study through a coordinated programme accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). You can then choose to earn the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) credential, which is not always required but often preferred by employers.
Many dietitians progress to set up their own practice or work on a freelance basis. Others choose to work in public schools and in healthcare to help patients who are struggling with their diet.
You could choose to specialise in an area of dietetics such as gastroenterology, diabetes or cancer. Additional training is required for specialisations, which typically takes two to three years to complete.