what is a dietitian?

As a dietitian, you translate scientific nutrition information into practical dietary advice. You advise public health officials on food-related problems and treat nutrition-related illnesses. You assess people's current eating habits and examine the impacts on their lives. From the assessment, you provide recommendations on nutritional changes necessary to improve bodily functions and overall well-being.

Dietitians often work with people experiencing nutritional or diet-related health problems like eating disorders and digestive issues. Doctors often refer patients to a nutritional specialist to help them improve their physical or mental state. As well as individual consultations, dietitians work with organisations and groups like government officials to develop food policies. In schools, a dietitian assists in creating healthy meal plans for students. Other fields that rely on dietitians include the food industry, where you determine products' nutritional value and contents. Professional athletes and sportspeople also rely on advice from dietitians to stay healthy and physically fit.

Dietitians rely on research skills to investigate the effects of various foods on the human body. Aligning your research and critical thinking skills improves your knowledge in the field and makes you a successful dietitian.

Would working as a dietitian suit your research skills and scientific knowledge? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in a dietitian role.

dietitian jobs

average dietitian salary

According to National Careers, the median compensation package for dietitians ranges from £25,654 to £40,056 per year. Salaries align with NHS pay bands that rise gradually depending on your experience level.

The starting salary for qualified dietitians starts from Band 5 with annual compensation of £25,654. When you have over three years of experience in the role, your earnings increase to £31,534 annually.

At the specialist level, dietitians earn a Band 6 salary that ranges from £32,306 to £39,027 per year. In comparison, advanced-level dietitians receive a Band 7 salary with a remuneration package of £40,056 to £45,839 per year.

Some dietitians become clinical leads, which attracts a Band 8a salary of £47,126 to £53,219 per year. As the head of nutrition and dietetics, your compensation package rises to £75,874 per year (Band 8c).

Working for the NHS attracts various benefits like on-call and special-duty allowances. Some cities like London also attract a cost-of-living allowance.

what factors affect the salary of a dietitian?

The compensation package for dietitians depends on whether they work for the NHS or the private sector. The salaries for NHS dietitians are fixed depending on experience and level of expertise. In private settings, salaries are determined by the employer. Therefore, the employer's capacity and nature of work influence your salary prospects. When you work for a small private clinic, you are likely to earn less than someone working for a private hospital. Your specialisation also affects your pay. For instance, a sports dietitian is likely to earn more compared to dietitians working in community schools or health centres.


conversation with dietician
conversation with dietician

types of dietitians

Some of the types of dietitians include:

  • clinical dietitians: as a clinical dietitian, you provide nutritional therapy. That means you create personalised nutritional programmes based on a patient's health needs. As a clinical dietitian, you are likely to work with people suffering from digestive disorders, diabetes and kidney diseases.
  • community dietitians: as a community dietitian, you develop programmes to improve knowledge on nutrition and other diets. You work in public health facilities and government or non-profit agencies, providing advice on nutrition, food and health topics. You will work with people with special nutritional needs, such as adolescents or the elderly, to help them improve their well-being.

working as a dietitian

A dietitian is an expert in food and nutrition and helps people in various settings to promote their health and manage diseases by improving their diet. They plan and conduct food service and nutritional programmes to promote healthy living. If you are interested in becoming a dietitian, here are the tasks and work schedules to expect in the role:


education and skills

Some of the educational qualifications for dietitians include:

  • university: to become a dietitian, pursue a degree in human nutrition or dietetics. If you have a degree in a related subject, such as sports science, pursue a postgraduate degree to become a dietitian. The course should be accredited by the British Dietetic Association. It should provide adequate biochemistry and human physiology knowledge to enable you to practice as a dietician.
  • apprenticeship: if you don't meet the entry requirements for a university qualification, consider a dietitian degree apprenticeship. The course takes 48 months and combines academic studies at an approved university with workplace learning. When you complete the programme, you are eligible for full membership in the British Dietetic Association.

dietitian skills and competencies

Some of the skills and competencies of dietitians include:

  • research skills: as a dietitian, you rely on science-based knowledge to advise patients. Since the field regularly evolves, you require research skills to review and interpret the latest scientific publications. The skill is important for sourcing and compiling different expert opinions.
  • organisational skills: as a dietitian, you work in a fast-paced environment that requires organisational skills. Maintaining organised workflows and prioritising tasks helps you complete your work on time.
  • analytical skills: as a dietitian, you rely on critical thinking and analytical skills to determine the best nutritional strategies for a patient. Problem-solving and data interpretation helps you research potential remedies based on the patient's health issues.
  • communication skills: as a dietitian, you educate people on various nutritional requirements. Your speaking skills help you communicate complicated topics in a simple language to ensure the patients and other health professionals understand.
patient talking to dietician
patient talking to dietician


FAQs about working as a dietitian

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