9 Pros and Cons of Being a Dietitian

Updated March 3, 2023

Becoming a dietitian can be an appropriate career choice if you're passionate about healthy nutritional habits. Regardless of your current background and experience, knowing the main pros and cons of being a dietitian can help you decide if this career may be right for you. In this article, we discuss what a dietitian does and list some of the most common pros and cons of working as a dietitian.

What does a dietitian do?

Dietitians promote healthy nutritional habits and help people with nutritional issues by recommending science-based dietary solutions. They work with individuals and recommend ways to fight various diseases through diet changes, and also work for public organizations and government bodies to promote healthy eating habits. Their exact role depends on their specialization, with some of the most common types of dietitians being:

  • Clinical: They work in various health care facilities, like hospitals and clinics.

  • Neonatal: They specialize in working with prematurely born babies in neonatal intensive care units.

  • Gerontological: They provide nutritional advice to the elderly.

  • Community: They promote healthy eating habits within a community.

  • Food service: They work for organizations that provide food to the public, helping them create healthy menus.

  • Pediatric: They specialize in infant and child nutrition.

  • Business: They work for media outlets, providing nutritional expertise

  • Research: They perform dietary research for the purpose of improving health policies

Related: What Is a Dietitian?

What are the pros of being a dietitian?

Some of the main advantages of working as a dietitian include:

1. You have a wide range of job opportunities

Given the many potential specializations and workplaces for a dietitian, specializing in this role can give you access to a wide variety of professional opportunities. Besides the different specializations, dietitians can choose to work in different locations and with different populations, each with their own dietary particularities. Having this kind of variety in your profession can help you find more employment opportunities and allow you to explore various professional contexts.

2. You can choose to work independently

As a dietitian, you can work in private practice or as a consultant, which can give you full independence over your career. This means you can choose the type of clients you want to work with, what your everyday schedule is and how to expand your business. You can also work part time for an employer and spend the rest of your working time as a private dietitian.

Related: 16 Jobs With Flexible Hours

3. You get the opportunity to help people

Working as a dietitian implies directly interacting with your clients and actively trying to change their lives for the better. Doing so can bring you professional satisfaction but also the personal fulfillment that comes from knowing that you helped another person change their lives for the better. Aside from improving a person's health, an appropriate diet can also improve their happiness and well-being levels, and knowing that you have a major contribution to that can motivate and inspire you.

4. You're likely to see a good salary and positive job outlook

According to Indeed Salaries, the average national salary for a dietitian in the U.S. is $50,106 per year, with those with over a decade of experience earning $66,940 on average. Besides earning more than the national average for all occupations, dietitians can also expect an 11% growth in the available number of jobs between 2020 and 2030, based on an estimation by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Related: 25 Health Care Jobs To Get Before Medical School

5. You usually have variety in your work

Even if you specialize in a single area of the profession, your dietitian working days are still likely to be very different from one another. Clients tend to have a wide variety of issues and each of them typically requires a different approach, based on the client's personal characteristics. You also have to figure out ways to adjust your clients' diets if their nutrition plans are not working as they should. Having such a high variety in your work can keep you focused and doesn't usually allow routine to set in.

What are the cons of being a dietitian?

Some of the potential challenges of working as a dietitian include:

1. There are many education and training requirements for the role

Most dietitians have at least a bachelor's degree in a related field, such as public health nutrition, clinical nutrition or dietetics. If you want to pursue more advanced dietitian roles, you're likely to need a master's degree or doctorate in a related field. You also have to undergo supervised training and pursue specific credentials based on your chosen dietitian specialty. Although earning the required education and training can be challenging, doing so can be highly rewarding, and it sets you apart from other nutrition professionals.

2. Working with patients who have severe health conditions can be challenging

Some dietitian jobs require constant interactions with seriously ill patients who are looking to improve their outcomes by changing their diet habits. It can also mean you have to work with geriatric patients, with special needs and challenges. While constantly having these interactions can be challenging and may affect your morale, helping these people improve their condition is likely to provide you with motivation and job satisfaction.

Related: 12 Popular Careers in Nutrition (With FAQ)

3. You constantly have to stay up to date

Nutrition is a constantly evolving science, with scientists constantly learning new ways in which the food people eat affects their health and well-being. This means that, as a dietitian, your education and training can become obsolete if you don't constantly research all the latest developments in the field, as well as the latest government regulations regarding nutrition. Although the need to constantly adjust your practice based on new developments in the field can be challenging, it also provides opportunities for dedicated dietitians to set themselves apart from their competition.

4. There can be competition for lucrative job opportunities in the field

Most nutritionist employment opportunities are highly competitive and may also be limited by the fact that other medical professionals, like doctors and nurses, choose to provide their own advice to patients regarding their nutritional needs. Although the overall job outlook is positive, finding good job opportunities can be challenging if you're not properly prepared. Getting more education and training than the minimum state requirements is likely to set you apart from most job competitors, though.


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