Job description

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

    • 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, qualities and knowledge

Communication
Compassion
Active listening
Monitoring
Critical thinking
Trustworthiness
Customer service
Patience
Attention to detail
Team working
Interpersonal
Scientific software
Biology

Working hours and environment

Average working hours

40hweek

Typical schedule

Full Time

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.

Salary

Bottom 10%

$38k

Median

$60k

Top 10%

$85k

Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.

Qualifications and training

Education level

Undergraduate

DVM / VMD degree

Study time

4years

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.

Job outlook

Projected growth
The projected growth rate of employment in the US from 2016 to 2026, based on data collected through the BLS Employment Projections (EP) programme. The national average growth rate for all professions is 7%.

15%

No of new jobs
The number of jobs projected to become available in the US between 2016 and 2026, based on data collected through the BLS Employment Projections (EP) programme.

9.9k

Automation risk
The probability of computerisation, based on data published in ‘The Future of Employment’, a 2013 working paper by Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne.

0.4%

Career progression

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.