Dietitian Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: August 22, 2022

A Dietitian, or Registered Dietitian, creates nutrition plans to improve the health and physical conditions of patients. Their main duties include analyzing patients’ health status, goals and dietary restrictions, tracking clients’ dietary intake and progress and educating patients on how to maintain a balanced diet.

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Dietitian duties and responsibilities

A Dietitian looks at a facility’s dietary needs and provides answers to combat malnourishment. They must ensure that proper courtesy is established when serving in-house patients. Knowing who that exact patient is and who’s to receive a menu-listed meal is crucial knowledge. The Dietitian role is responsible for:

  • Coming up with a core meal plan for general patients, for special requests or for critical needs
  • Acting in the role of counselor and thus sustaining patient morale
  • Maintaining documentation from aides and management as a daily routine
  • Keeping track of what has or hasn’t worked for a patient, which is crucial to providing proper meals later on
  • Ensuring the cleanliness of a workspace and proper use of utensils during food preparation
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What does a Dietitian do?

Dietitians work for different healthcare facilities meeting with patients to build meal plans that follow their dietary restrictions and improve their health. They work closely with patients to understand their dietary needs, preferences and goals. They use this information to develop a nutrition plan catered specifically for that patient. 

The Dietitian will continuously monitor the patient’s progress and will update their nutrition plan accordingly. Dietitians must also conduct research to regularly stay informed on the latest nutrition and food health updates. They may also travel to schools or community organizations to educate groups on healthy eating habits and the best nutritional methods to follow.

Dietitian skills and qualifications

Dietitians have a keen understanding of nutrition as it aligns with legal scope and standards. Their knowledge of nutrition guides their daily decisions. Dietitians are also judged on the sincerity of their interest in the health of others. An attentive focus during long hours should be expected. These professionals are comfortable with:

  • Leading critical projects to design new patient diets and delivery methods
  • Ensuring that clients understand their medical care
  • Demonstrating impeccable, analytical skills when assessing patient nutrition
  • Developing solutions for any challenges that malnourishment poses—over multiple cases

Dietitian salary expectations

A Dietitian makes an average of $33.87 per hour. Pay rate may depend on level of experience, education and the geographical location.

Dietitian education and training requirements

Dietitians do have notable degrees to rely on, but certifications are required as a national standard for work. The nature of medicine will also compel these caregivers to react to urgent tasks across different skill sets. Dietitians must learn direction from physicians, psychiatrists or last-care providers. The industry’s most respected credentials for this role include GCSE certificates, A-level courses and post-graduate courses in dietetics.

Dietitian experience requirements

Any experience in the duties of nutrition are sought by employers. Applicants are urged to report their past experiences for any health care status. Hiring managers are open to the work histories of dietetic assistant practitioners specifically. Any proven contributions in dietetics should be presented as credible. Meal clerks often come in the form of dietary aides who, in the daily task of delivering food, are adequate candidates for being future Dietitians. Dietary aides ensure that patients actually consume their nutrition meals.

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Frequently asked questions about Dietitians


What makes a good Dietitian?

A good Dietitian must be extensively educated on diet and nutrition best practices, while also being passionate to learn more about these subjects. They should also have problem-solving and critical thinking abilities to help them brainstorm new ways to improve their patients’ diet and health. Strong Dietitian candidates also have effective communication and interpersonal skills to listen closely to patients’ needs and health issues. 

They must have compassion and interpersonal abilities that drive them to find solutions to their patients’ problems. Impressive presentation and public speaking skills are important, as they use them to get groups of people enthusiastic and motivated to live healthier lifestyles. 


What's the difference between a Dietitian and a Nutritionist?

Though both Dietitians and Nutritionists work with patients to recommend meal plans, there are some key differences when it comes to their responsibilities and training. Dietitians receive a board certification, which grants them the qualifications to diagnose eating disorders and build diets to support certain medical conditions. 

Nutritionists don’t usually receive the same extensive training and qualifications for their role. However, they are still required to earn certain degrees and earn certifications, which qualifies them to advise patients on how to live healthier lifestyles and meet their health goals with diet and exercise plans.   


Do Dietitians have different responsibilities in different industries?

Dietitians can work in an abundance of work settings and industries, building healthy nutrition plans for patients. Many of them work in long-term care facilities, helping patients return to a more stable health condition with nutritional meal plans that meet their dietary restrictions. Some work in schools, building meal plans to keep students healthy. 

Others may work for public health facilities, educating community members on ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle through diet and nutritional plans. There are also Dietitians who work in the sports nutrition industry creating dietary plans to help athletes perform well and maintain strong physical stamina. 


What are the different types of Dietitians?

Registered Dietitians may specialize in a certain nutrition and wellness subject. Clinical Dietitians are trained in nutrition therapy and use this knowledge to provide personalized diet plans to patients in medical facilities. Community Dietitians travel to different areas, working for nonprofit organizations and government entities to educate various groups on best nutritional and dietary practices to follow. Management Dietitians work in food service settings, like cafeterias, hospital and food corporations to plan meal programs and build nutritional menus.

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