How to Become a


The complete career guide to be a Dietitian: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $58,410
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 16.3%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Dependable Daily Workload
    Career Attribute

Dietitians help people maintain good health and manage diseases by educating them on how to eat properly. They may work with individuals interested in losing weight, preventing disease, or managing health, or they may work for large organizations, developing healthy and diverse menus and meal plans.

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What is a Dietitian?

The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in dietitian roles:

  • Develop healthy meal plans and menus for schools, hospitals, nursing homes, and restaurants
  • Create meal plans for individual patients seeking to lose weight, prevent illness, manage disease, or handle new health-related dietary restrictions
  • Consider patients’ needs and budget concerns when providing dietary advice and guidance
  • Conduct presentations for large groups of individuals to educate the public about the importance of healthy eating

A Day in the Life

The primary role of a dietitian is to promote good health through healthy eating habits. Dietitians study nutrition as a means of promoting health, managing disease, and preventing illness, and they may work with individuals, groups, and/or organizations. For example, a dietitian employed by a hospital may spend time with patients suffering from heart disease or renal failure to educate them on new dietary restrictions caused by their health problems and help them form plans for avoiding restricted foods.

Other dietitians work for large organizations—schools, prisons, or nursing homes—and help develop meal plans that will satisfy the nutritional needs of individuals fed by the organization. These dietitians may have administrative responsibilities as well as a role in meal planning; for example, they may be responsible for handling the organization’s food budget and taking that into consideration when developing meal plans.

Another common responsibility for a dietitian is to educate groups of individuals on healthy eating. They may give presentations at schools or nursing homes to teach different age groups how to eat for good health and disease prevention. They may also counsel individuals on how to eat to promote weight loss, or teach new parents on how to feed their infants and toddlers to ensure they’re getting the nutrients needed for proper growth and development.

Typical Work Schedule

Dietitians normally work full-time following the standard 40 hours per week working schedules. However, they may also be required to work on evenings and weekends to meet with their clients’ schedules which adds longer hours to their schedules. Working part-time is also a common choice which includes around one third of the people working in this profession. If you choose to run a private clinic, you will get more flexibility, but you will need to adjust your working schedule to suit the clients’ needs and availability. You should also dedicate some time to read about recent trends and advances in nutritional programs to competitive in this field.

Projected Job Growth

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for dietitians is expected to increase by at least 8 % from 2019 to 2029, which is much faster than the average for all other jobs. Due to the change of culture in recent years, the public have taken greater interest in the role of food and nutrition in promoting health and wellness. The importance of nutrition as a part of preventative healthcare is also a good reason for that interest. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 30% of U.S. adults are obese with many diseases such as diabetes and heart disease associated with obesity. This makes the importance of healthy diets in preventing and even treating illnesses well known. That is why more dietitians will be needed to provide care and guidance for the population especially those more prone to obesity. The increasing demand for dietitians will provide more opportunities to students graduating with related degrees.

Dietitian Specializations

  • Clinical dietitians counsel individuals on the benefits of maintaining a healthy diet. They may work for themselves, for a hospital or doctor’s office, or for the government.
  • Community dietitians provide nutritional advice to large groups of individuals and often work for health insurance providers, fitness centers, or government organizations.
  • Management dietitians work in institutions like schools, nursing homes, and hospitals. They manage food budgets and develop menus and nutrition programs for their institutions.

Typical Employers

Dietitians are required in multiple job settings and therefore have wide range of employers. This includes hospitals of different sizes and levels whether state, local or private. Some work for major corporations designing their nutrition plans as well as sports nutrition plans as Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem and Atkins. Some prefer to work privately as self-employed workers which gives them more opportunities but also requires more effort and dedication. Another option is to work for food and nutrition industry as well as research institutes.


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How To Become a Dietitian

To work as a dietitian, you’ll need to pursue a bachelor’s degree in dietetics, food service systems management, public health, or nutrition. As part of your studies, you’ll be required to take part in an internship or supervised training program that will provide real-word training on the day-to-day responsibilities of being a dietitian. This allows aspiring dietitians to gain valuable experience working alongside an experienced dietitian that will prepare them to do individual counseling after college.

Some states also require dietitians to be licensed in order to practice in the state. To become licensed, you’ll need to earn a bachelor’s degree, complete an internship or training program, and pass a licensing exam. By completing these three activities, aspiring dietitians may also qualify for Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) credentials from the Commission on Dietetic Registration. An RDN certification can make you more a more competitive candidate when applying for jobs after college.

After working as dietitians for several years, many dietitians want to seek advancement into more senior-level positions and higher-paying roles. For advancement, additional degrees and certifications may be required. Many dietitians go on to earn master’s or doctoral degrees that qualify them to become Certified Nutrition Specialists (CNSs). This higher-level credential requires a graduate degree and more than 1,000 hours of experience in the field working as a dietitian.

Dietitian Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

Low Range




High Range


National Hourly Wage

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High Range


How do Dietitian salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Dietitian's can make an average annual salary of $58,410, or $28 per hour. On the lower end, they can make $46,160 or $22 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #290 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Average Salary Nationally

Programs and Degrees

Here are the most common degrees for becoming a Dietitian. a is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.

Highest Education Among Dietitians

  • 6.6%   Doctorate
  • 26.4%   Masters
  • 39.4%   Bachelors
  • 4.4%   Associates
  • 7.2%   College
  • 12.6%   High School
  • 3.3%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Dietitian job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 10,900 jobs for a total of 77,600 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 16.3% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Above Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #87 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Avg. Growth Nationally

What Companies Employ The Most Dietitians

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
General medical and surgical hospitals; private 15,500 1,100 1%
Nursing care facilities (skilled nursing facilities) 4,900 500 1%
Self-employed workers 4,200 1,500 2%

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