How to become a dietitian

Are you interested in becoming a dietitian in the UK? Our step-by-step guide will tell you everything you need to know to become a dietitian.

Being a dietitian can be a very rewarding career as you’re able to make a significant contribution to improving patients’ health.

As a dietitian, you have the option to work in the NHS, private health, sport, media and the food industry.

In this article, we’ll cover:

What is a dietitian?

Dietitians are qualified health professionals that work within the NHS and in private clinics. As a dietitian, you’ll assess, diagnose and treat diet-related and nutritional problems. This might be at an individual or wider public-health level. Dietitians translate scientific research on food, health and disease into practical advice to help people make health-conscious decisions.

You’ll often work as an integral member of multi-disciplinary teams to treat conditions, such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Kidney failure
  • Malnutrition
  • Eating disorders
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Food allergies and intolerances

How much do dietitians earn?

Starting salaries for a qualified dietitian (Band 5) start at £28,482 and can go up to £81,138 at a consultant level. Find out more about pay scales.

Why become a dietitian?

Becoming a dietitian is a highly rewarding career.

  • You can make a positive impact on people’s lives.
  • You can use your knowledge and skills to help your community and wider society.
  • You can improve people’s relationship with food.
  • You can work in more than one area or specialism. For example, you could teach in university and have your own freelance practice.
  • As a dietitian, you play an important role in society’s health which means you're always in demand.

What does a dietitian do?

Dietitians study the science of food and nutrition to guide patients, clients and students on how to prevent disease, treat medical conditions and improve sport performance.

As a dietitian, in addition to working within the NHS and private clinics, you can also work in areas including learning disabilities, mental health, public health and community settings. If you choose to work in a hospital or a community setting, you will have a variety of responsibilities, including:

If you work with athletes, you may have additional responsibilities such as:

How to become a dietitian in the UK

To be able to practice as a dietitian in the UK, you must be registered with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC). To do this, you must complete an HCPC-approved programme in dietetics, either at undergraduate or postgraduate level. Programmes are also accredited by the British Dietetic Association (BDA).

What qualifications are needed to become a dietitian?

For a place on an undergraduate course, you’ll usually need three A-Levels or equivalent including Biology and often Chemistry (or another related subject). You'll also normally need at least five GCSEs at grade C/4 including Maths and English or equivalent.

If you are interested in becoming a dietitian, you may choose to study Nutrition & Exercise Sciences. This covers a combination of health-focused subjects, which take an evidence-based approach to nutrition and exercise science to help combat poor food choices and lifestyles. If you don’t have the required grades, our Foundation Year programme could be exactly what you’re looking for, as it provides an alternative route to study for this degree.

If you already have a degree in a relevant subject, then you could study an approved HCPC course accredited by the BDA to qualify as a dietitian in the UK. Our MSc in Dietetics programme prepares you to become a dietitian across a range of settings, including the NHS. You’ll be able to undertake simulations in our clinical assessment facilities using 'real life' scenarios, which reflect the everyday working of a dietitian. You’ll also learn from registered dietitians and health professions as you undertake placements in the NHS and local organisations.

We hope this article has helped you understand how to become a dietitian. Take a look at some of our courses below.