Dietitians and Nutritionists

Career, Salary and Education Information

What They Do: Dietitians and nutritionists advise people on what to eat in order to lead a healthy lifestyle or achieve a specific health-related goal.

Work Environment: Dietitians and nutritionists work in many settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, cafeterias, and for state and local governments.

How to Become One: Dietitians and nutritionists typically need a bachelor’s degree, along with supervised training through an internship. Many states require dietitians and nutritionists to be licensed.

Salary: The median annual wage for dietitians and nutritionists is $61,650.

Job Outlook: Employment of dietitians and nutritionists is projected to grow 7 percent over the next ten years, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Related Careers: Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of dietitians and nutritionists with similar occupations.

Following is everything you need to know about a career as a dietitian or nutritionist with lots of details. As a first step, take a look at some of the following jobs, which are real jobs with real employers. You will be able to see the very real job career requirements for employers who are actively hiring. The link will open in a new tab so that you can come back to this page to continue reading about the career:

Top 3 Dietitian Jobs

  • Registered Dietitian- Full Time Days - The Rehabilitation Hospital of Wisconsin - Kansas City, MO

    The Registered Dietitian is responsible for the planning and implementation of the nutrition care of the patients in accordance with applicable federal, state, and local standards and regulations ...

  • Diabetes Dietitian Educator - PRIDE Healthcare - Newport Beach, CA

    Pride Health is Seeking a Registered Diabetes Dietitian ! This position is a contract to full-time hire with our client. Location: Newport Beach + Irvine California Schedule: Monday thru Friday Hours ...

  • Research Dietitian - Baylor College of Medicine - San Antonio, TX

    Summary The Research Dietitian will participate in the pediatric research project to investigate the use of a low FODMAP diet on symptoms in children with functional abdominal pain disorders

See all Dietitian jobs

Top 3 Nutritionist Jobs

  • Pet Nutritionist/Grooming Assisstant - SCAPS Holdings LLC - Henderson, NV

    Pet Nutritionist /Grooming Assistant Job Summary Earthwise Pet Nutrition and Wellness Center is looking for an eager to learn animal lover to work in a store in the Henderson Nevada area. The Pet ...

  • WIC Nutritionist I/II - Weber County - Ogden, UT

    Career Ladder requirements for Nutritionist II Grade 18: Employee is eligible for hire or advancement to a Nutritionist II when the following conditions have been met: * Satisfy the minimum ...

  • Degreed Nutritionist- WIC Merced - Merced County Community Action Agency - Merced, CA

    O. Box 2085, Merced, CA 95344-0085 JOB DESCRIPTION Carole Roberds Board Chairperson Brenda Callahan- Johnson E xecutive Director DEGREED NUTRITIONIST WOMEN, INFANTS & CHILDREN (WIC) NUTRITION ...

See all Nutritionist jobs

What Dietitians and Nutritionists Do[About this section] [To Top]

Dietitians and nutritionists are experts in the use of food and nutrition to promote health and manage disease. They advise people on what to eat in order to lead a healthy lifestyle or achieve a specific health-related goal.

Duties of Dietitians and Nutritionists

Dietitians and nutritionists typically do the following:

  • Assess patients' and clients' nutritional and health needs
  • Counsel patients on nutrition issues and healthy eating habits
  • Develop meal and nutrition plans, taking both clients' preferences and budgets into account
  • Evaluate the effects of meal plans and change the plans as needed
  • Promote better health by speaking to groups about diet, nutrition, and the relationship between good eating habits and preventing or managing specific diseases
  • Create educational materials about healthy food choices
  • Keep up with or contribute to the latest food and nutritional science research
  • Document patients' progress

Dietitians and nutritionists evaluate the health of their clients. Based on their findings, dietitians and nutritionists advise clients on which foods to eat—and which to avoid—to improve their health.

Many dietitians and nutritionists provide customized information for specific individuals. For example, a dietitian or nutritionist might teach a client with diabetes how to plan meals to balance the client's blood sugar. Others work with groups of people who have similar needs. For example, a dietitian or nutritionist might plan a diet with healthy fat and limited sugar to help clients who are at risk for heart disease. They may work with other healthcare professionals to coordinate patient care.

Dietitians and nutritionists who are self-employed may meet with patients, or they may work as consultants for a variety of organizations. They may need to spend time on marketing and other business-related tasks, such as scheduling appointments, keeping records, and preparing educational programs or informational materials for clients.

Although many dietitians and nutritionists do similar tasks, there are several specialties within the occupations. The following are examples of types of dietitians and nutritionists:

Clinical dietitians and clinical nutritionists provide medical nutrition therapy. They work in hospitals, long-term care facilities, clinics, private practice, and other institutions. They create customized nutritional programs based on the health needs of patients or residents and counsel patients on how to improve their health through nutrition. Clinical dietitians and clinical nutritionists may further specialize, such as by working only with patients with specific conditions such as kidney disease, diabetes, or digestive disorders.

Community dietitians and community nutritionists develop programs and counsel the public on topics related to food, health, and nutrition. They often work with specific groups of people, such as adolescents or the elderly. They work in public health clinics, government and nonprofit agencies, health maintenance organizations (HMOs), and other settings.

Management dietitians plan food programs. They work in food service settings such as cafeterias, hospitals, prisons, and schools. They may be responsible for buying food and for carrying out other business-related tasks, such as budgeting. Management dietitians may oversee kitchen staff or other dietitians.

Work Environment for Dietitians and Nutritionists[About this section] [To Top]

Dietitians and nutritionists hold about 74,700. The largest employers of dietitians and nutritionists are as follows:

Hospitals; state, local, and private 29%
Government 12%
Outpatient care centers 10%
Nursing and residential care facilities 8%
Self-employed workers 8%

Dietitian and Nutritionist Work Schedules

Most dietitians and nutritionists work full time. They may work evenings and weekends to meet with clients who are unavailable at other times.

How to Become a Dietitian or Nutritionist[About this section] [To Top]

Get the education you need: Find schools for Dietitians and Nutritionists near you!

Dietitians and nutritionists typically need a bachelor's degree, along with supervised training through an internship. Many states require dietitians and nutritionists to be licensed.

Education for Dietitians and Nutritionists

Dietitians and nutritionists typically need a bachelor's degree in dietetics, foods and nutrition, clinical nutrition, public health nutrition, or a related area. Dietitians also may study food service systems management. Programs include courses in nutrition, psychology, chemistry, and biology.

Many dietitians and nutritionists have advanced degrees.

Dietitian and Nutritionist Training

Dietitians and nutritionists typically receive several hundred hours of supervised training, usually in the form of an internship following graduation from college. Some schools offer coordinated programs in dietetics that allow students to complete supervised training as part of their undergraduate or graduate-level coursework.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations for Dietitians and Nutritionists

Many states require dietitians and nutritionists to be licensed in order to practice. Other states require only state registration or certification to use certain titles, and a few states have no regulations for this occupation.

The requirements for state licensure and state certification vary by state, but most include having a bachelor's degree in food and nutrition or a related area, completing supervised practice, and passing an exam.

Many dietitians choose to earn the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) credential. Although the RDN is not always required, the qualifications are often the same as those necessary for becoming a licensed dietitian in states that require a license. Many employers prefer or require the RDN, which is administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration, the credentialing agency for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

The RDN requires dietitian nutritionists to complete a minimum of a bachelor's degree and a Dietetic Internship (DI), which consists of at least 1,200 hours of supervised experience. Students may complete both criteria at once through a coordinated program, or they may finish their required coursework and degree before applying for an internship. These programs are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND), part of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. In order to maintain the RDN credential, dietitians and nutritionists who have earned it must complete 75 continuing professional education credits every 5 years.

Nutritionists may earn the Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS) credential to show an advanced level of knowledge. The CNS credential or exam is accepted in several states for licensure purposes. To qualify for the credential, applicants must have a master's or doctoral degree, complete 1,000 hours of supervised experience, and pass an exam. The credential is administered by the Board for Certification of Nutrition Specialists. To maintain the CNS credential, nutritionists must complete 75 continuing education credits every 5 years.

Dietitians and nutritionists may seek additional certifications in an area of specialty. The Commission on Dietetic Registration offers several specialty certifications in topics such as oncology nutrition, pediatric nutrition, renal nutrition, and sports dietetics, among others.

Important Qualities for Dietitians and Nutritionists

Analytical skills. Dietitians and nutritionists must keep up to date with the latest food and nutrition research. They should interpret scientific studies and translate nutrition science into practical eating advice.

Compassion. Dietitians and nutritionists must be caring and empathetic when helping clients address health and dietary issues and any related emotions.

Listening skills. Dietitians and nutritionists must listen carefully to understand clients' goals and concerns. They may work with other healthcare workers as part of a team to improve the health of a patient, and they need to listen to team members when constructing eating plans.

Organizational skills. Because there are many aspects to the work of dietitians and nutritionists, they should stay organized. Management dietitians, for example, must consider the nutritional needs of their clients, the costs of meals, and access to food. Self-employed dietitians and nutritionists may need to schedule appointments, manage employees, bill insurance companies, and maintain patient files.

Problem-solving skills. Dietitians and nutritionists must evaluate the health status of patients and determine the most appropriate food choices for a client to improve his or her overall health or manage a disease.

Speaking skills. Dietitians and nutritionists must explain complicated topics in a way that people with less technical knowledge can understand. They must clearly explain eating plans to clients and to other healthcare professionals involved in a patient's care.

Dietitian and Nutritionist Salaries[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]

The median annual wage for dietitians and nutritionists is $61,650. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $42,530, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $93,640.

The median annual wages for dietitians and nutritionists in the top industries in which they work are as follows:

Outpatient care centers $74,640
Government $61,830
Hospitals; state, local, and private $61,820
Nursing and residential care facilities $60,840

Most dietitians and nutritionists work full time. They may work evenings and weekends to meet with clients who are unavailable at other times.

Job Outlook for Dietitians and Nutritionists[About this section] [To Top]

Employment of dietitians and nutritionists is projected to grow 7 percent over the next ten years, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

About 5,600 openings for dietitians and nutritionists are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment of Dietitians and Nutritionists

Interest in the role of food and nutrition in promoting wellness and preventive care, particularly in medical settings, continues to increase.

The importance of diet in preventing and controlling certain illnesses, such as diabetes and heart disease, is well established. More dietitians and nutritionists will be needed to provide care for people who have, or are at risk of developing, these conditions.

Moreover, as the population ages and looks for ways to stay healthy, there will be more demand for dietetic and nutrition services.

Employment projections data for Dietitians and Nutritionists, 2021-31
Occupational Title Employment, 2021 Projected Employment, 2031 Change, 2021-31
Percent Numeric
Dietitians and nutritionists 74,700 79,700 7 5,100


A portion of the information on this page is used by permission of the U.S. Department of Labor.


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