Inside Dietitian Careers

Things you need to know, but nobody tells you

Biggest Surprises

"Lots Of Job Options To Specialize...
I was generally surprised with the amount of flexibility this career provides me. I had previously been working at a nursing home and essentially doing meal planning, but I have recently switched to a teaching hospital and get to be a part of a team-oriented treatment group working alongside of the physicians." (Dietitian; 2013)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in Georgia, female
School: Studied Nutrition at University Of Georgia in Georgia; completed Bachelor degree in 2011

"Rich Career Opportunities...
I was surprised by how much marketing skills dietitians must possess to be successful in a corporate setting. As a dietitian in the industry, I need to come up with attractive materials to distribute to employers for employee education. When I was in school, I thought all dietitians did was counsel patients about their eating habits - not true! The career possibilities are endless." (Dietitian; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Minnesota, female
School: Studied Food And Nutrition at The University Of Alabama in Alabama; completed Bachelor degree in 2012

"Salaries Below Expectations...
I am surprised a the pay it is lower than expected. I am also surprised at how little people know about nutrition," (Nutritionist; 2013)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in Florida, male
School: Studied Nutrition at UCF in Florida; completed Bachelor degree in 2009

"Reporting Burden Substantial...
I was surprised by how much paper work this career requires. In college, they do not teach you that paper work and reports will take up most of your time. I would rather be working with people directly." (Nutrition; 2012)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Colorado, male
School: Studied Health at University Of Minnesota in Minnesota; completed Bachelor degree in 2011

Best & Worst Things About This Career

Registered Dietitian: "I really enjoy working with this patient population and I really feel like I make a difference in their lives. I love working with the team of people that I do. Everyone is very supportive of each other and we work well together. Sometimes my job can be very frustrating when people do not make changes I suggest and gain weight back or are not successful with weight loss at all when I know they have the potential!" (2011)

Dietitian: "The best part of my job is that I feel that I can make a difference in my patient's lives. It is truly a privilege to work with others and help them to be a healthier version of themselves. The most frustrating aspect of my job is that most insurance companies do not cover for nutritional visits and so this does prohibit many individuals from being able to meet with me. The other downfall is that many companies will only allow 1-3 visits and even though it is better than none at all; it is still not enough to give the necessary support that some individuals truly need." (2011)

Registered Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator: "The best part of my job is that every day is different because people are all different and come in with so many different personalities and lifestyles. The day goes by very quickly and I enjoy talking with most of the patients and I love when they thank me for my help and say that seeing a dietitian wasn't as bad as they expected! The worst part of the job is occasionally getting stuck staying late because something unusual happened which slowed me down or made me have to do something extra. I can't complain about the paperwork because it is all computerized and quite efficient." (2009)

Career Background


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  Work Environment
  How to Prepare for the Job
  Job Outlook

Career Video

Career Tips

"Aim Higher...
I would say go for a more demanding job like nurse or physician if you can" (Nutritionist; 2013)

"Create A Network Early...
Try to network with local dietitians as early as possible. They will be key to finding a job and internship that matches your interests." (Dietitian; 2013)

"You're Not An RD Until AFTER The Internship...
Know that if you choose this major, you will be required to do a dietetic internship that will be unpaid and most likely require you to take out student loans to complete (after you graduate with your BS)." (Dietitian; 2013)

"Tough Curriculum But Worth The Effort...
The college course load is very hard, but if you love nutrition, it really pays off in the end. There is an internship that you have to apply for after graduating from college that is about a year long. This is a tough year, but again, it is worth it in the end. The nice thing about this career choice is that there is such a variety of places you can work and paths you can choose (working in a hospital, health club, own your own practice, etc). I would also consider getting your masters degree at the same time of your internship. That is something that is an option I wish I had done." (Registered Dietitian; 2011)

"You'll Need To Work In A Hospital At First...
You need to truly enjoy working with individuals in helping them to make lifestyle changes. Patience is also necessary when working with individuals of different backgrounds because not everyone is open to health advice. I would also suggest that an individual enjoy the sciences because there are a lot of chemistry, anatomy, and biology classes involved. I would also recommend that a student know that they will intern in a hospital for a year and being able to work in a hospital is something that may be necessary the first 1-2 years of being a dietitian." (Dietitian; 2011)

"Ask People About Their Careers...
My advice would be to look around at adults who have jobs and lifestyles that you think might interest you. When you notice these people, let them know that you admire them and ask if they might have time to tell you about their careers and how they got into them. After that, if you are still interested, ask if you can spend a day with them observing what they do at work. I did a day of observation and found it quite helpful." (Registered Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator; 2009)