Dietitian: job description

Dietitians promote good dietary health and treat nutritional problems by providing practical advice about food choices, based on scientific research.

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The ability to interact well with people from a wide range of backgrounds is essential.

What does a dietitian do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Dietitians work on a group and an individual basis with people of all ages. They work both with people who are sick and people who are well. Responsibilities include:

  • providing health advice and promoting healthy eating
  • advising about special diets
  • making presentations
  • writing reports
  • educating health professionals and the public about nutrition
  • establishing and addressing key health needs
  • helping to facilitate dietary changes
  • working as part of a multidisciplinary team
  • supervising dietetic assistants and supporting the work of other healthcare professionals

Dietitians may work with people who have been diagnosed with medical conditions such as diabetes or coeliac disease, eating disorders or allergies, or provide practical advice to carers.

Typical employers of dietitians

The NHS employs the majority of dietitians within hospitals, community health organisations and outpatient clinics. Some dietitians are self-employed, while others work for private healthcare sector employers or food, drink or pharmaceutical companies. Dietitians may also work in sport or the media, or in public health policy roles within the government or non-governmental organisations.

Jobs are advertised by careers services and recruitment agencies, in publications such as Network Health Digest and online – such as on the British Dietetic Association website. You may also find positions on the NHS jobs and NHS Scotland recruitment websites.

Qualifications and training required

All dieticians are registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). In order to register you'll need to complete an approved degree in dietetics, which will take three to four years. The minimum qualification requirement is usually a BSc Hons in dietetics. Alternatively, if you have a relevant science degree (such as a life sciences degree that incorporates human physiology and biochemistry) you may be able to take an approved postgraduate course.

For an undergraduate degree, you will usually need two or three A levels, including chemistry, maths or biology (or equivalent), along with five GCSEs at grade 4 (C), including English language and maths.

Key skills for dietitians

  • The ability to explain things in a clear and understandable way
  • A mature, confident and caring manner
  • The ability to interact well with people from a wide range of backgrounds
  • Strong communication skills
  • Sensitivity and empathy

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