Dietitians and nutritionists develop food and nutrition programs, but their responsibilities can differ based on their place of employment, which may include a hospital, a doctor's office or other health care facility. Their responsibilities range from preparing menus to supervising food preparation and providing counseling. They also help to prevent and treat illnesses and may advocate for healthier eating plans in specific settings.

Dietitians can either be employed by an organization or work independently for themselves. While self-employment often allows for a more flexible schedule, those who work for themselves may need to be available on evenings and weekends to better accommodate the needs of clients.

Responsibilities of Dietitians

Other job titles associated with the dietitian occupation include clinical dietitian, registered dietitian, outpatient dietitian and pediatric clinical dietitian. No matter what the specialization, a dietitian may need to:

  • Evaluate a client's nutritional needs, current health plans and diet restrictions to create an individualized dietary care plan
  • Provide counseling to groups and individuals about food nutrition and healthy eating habits
  • Collaborate with doctors and healthcare personnel to determine diet restrictions and nutritional needs of patients
  • Oversee food operation to ensure conformance to nutritional, sanitation, safety and quality standards
  • Develop special meals
  • Make recommendations about public policy including food fortification, nutrition labeling and nutrition standards for schools

Community dietitians instruct at-risk groups such as diabetics, pregnant women and senior citizens about the types of food to include in their diet and which foods to avoid.

Clinical dietitians plan menus and oversee the preparation of meals in hospitals, nursing homes and other institutions.

Management dietitians direct large-scale meal planning and preparation in company cafeterias, health care facilities, schools and prisons.

Research dietitians are involved with nutrition research for commercial food companies.

Dietitian Job Characteristics

Many dietitians work in clean, well-ventilated settings. However, some may work in hot, busy kitchens or similar areas overseeing the preparation of meals and food. Here's what to expect:

  • Full-time dietitians and nutritionists usually work 40 hours a week
  • Approximately one in five are self-employed
  • Those that are self-employed may have more flexibility on the job
  • Evening or weekend hours may be required
  • Some may work on their feet while others may spend more time at a desk

Qualities that are preferred in a good dietitian include:

  • Analytical skills
  • Clear, concise speaking abilities
  • Compassion and empathy
  • Good organization skills
  • Problem-solving capabilities

Dietitian Salary and Career Information

  • Total Employed: 59,490 as of 2014
  • Job Growth: 21% growth from 2012 to 2022
  • Average Salary: $57,440 as of 2014

According to the BLS, dietitians who have advanced degrees or specialty certifications could find some of the best job opportunities. Those working in California, Maryland, Nevada, Connecticut and New Jersey had the highest mean annual wages, all above $64,000.

Education, Certification and Licensing

A bachelor's degree in dietetics, food service systems management, food and nutrition, or in a related area is typically needed to enter the field, but students also can pursue graduate degrees in the subject. Students in a degree program typically take courses such as:

  • Biochemistry
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Institution management
  • Microbiology
  • Nutrition
  • Physiology

Certification is available though the Commission on Dietetic Registration and the Certification Board for Nutrition Specialists. Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) and Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS) are among the credentialing options.

Licensing is required in most states, although the requirements can vary. In some states, CNS credentialing is part of the licensing process. To obtain this credential, applicants need to have at least 1,000 hours of experience and a graduate-level degree. However, applicants typically must have a minimum of a bachelor's degree, a certain amount of time on the job and be able to pass an exam to become licensed.

Major Employers

  • Assisted living facilities
  • Home health care services and government agencies
  • Hospitals
  • Nursing care facilities
  • Offices of doctors and other health practitioners
  • Outpatient care centers


  • Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Certification Board for Nutrition Specialists
  • The American Dietetic Association
  • The Commission on Dietetic Registration


  1. Dietitians and Nutritionists, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Jan. 8, 2014. http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/dietitians-and-nutritionists.htm
  2. Dietitians and Nutritionists, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2014. http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291031.htm

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for
Dietitians and Nutritionists

Listed below are the 10 largest metro areas based on the total number of people employed in Dietitians and Nutritionists jobs , as of 2016

Metro Area Total Employment Annual Mean Salary
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim 2,770 $71,470
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land 1,260 $59,790
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington 1,090 $58,740
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward 1,070 $78,220
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach 1,010 $60,360
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell 840 $56,370
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale 820 $53,010
Sacramento--Roseville--Arden-Arcade 730 $73,750
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue 720 $67,970
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn 710 $53,590

Compare Total Employment & Salaries for Dietitians And Nutritionists

Use our handy tool to see what employment and salary numbers look like for two different metro areas

Select State
Select Metro Area 1
Select Metro Area 2

Total employment and salary for professions similar to dietitians and nutritionists

Career Stories (Job Profiles) for Dietitians and Nutritionists

To find out more about building a career as Dietitians And Nutritionists, we spoke with professionals in the field across a variety of specialties. Learn about their experiences on the job, the steps they took to complete their education, and what it takes to excel in this industry. Click the link to see a story.

All Types

Source : 2016 Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, BLS.gov

Most Popular Industries for
Dietitians and Nutritionists

These industries represent at least 1% of the total number of people employed in this occupation.

Industry Total Employment Percent Annual Median Salary
Hospital 20,210 37% $51,500
Medical Office 8,660 16% $53,210
Government 8,360 15% $51,660
Nursing And Residential Care 6,030 11% $50,240
Restaurant 3,750 7% $46,280
Social Service 1,800 3% $43,430
Education 1,770 3% $41,170
Personal Services 880 1% $35,780
Click the Visit School Site buttons to go directly to a school's website and learn more about the school and programs it has to offer. School website will open in a new tab.
Click the Request Info buttons to request more information from a representative at the school.
Results:  10
Matching School Ads
  • Master of Science in Nutrition Education
  • AU challenges students to combine serious study with real-world experience
  • 8 schools & 150+ programs including bachelor’s, master’s & doctoral degrees
  • MSA accredited with multiple accreditations per program, located in Wash. D.C.
  • Ranked #74 in “Best National Universities” by US News and World Report
  • Multiple financial aid options for eligible students in need
  • B.S. in Sports Management
  • Why Earn Your Degree from GCU?
  • Options: Choose from a variety of undergraduate and graduate degree programs in Business, Nursing, Psychology, Education & more!
  • Convenience: Complete courses online, on campus, or a combination of both!
  • Earlier Graduation: Our 4-credit courses allow you to complete your degree program in less time.
  • Transfer Friendly: We will request your transcripts, evaluate your graduate coursework, and determine your anticipated graduation date within 24 hours.
  • Quality: Grand Canyon University was founded in 1949 and is regionally accredited. Learn more today!
  • Health & Fitness Trainer
  • A Los Angeles-based private college offering programs in medical sciences, legal studies, and graphic design since 1985.
  • Has weekend programs, including certified  veterinary technology, nurse assistant, and hemodialysis technician.
  • Showcases visual communication students’ artwork and design through campus magazine.
  • 3 campuses in Southern California.
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
camnpus icon
Request Info
  • Sports Management - Doctor of Education
  • Sports Management - Master of Education
  • Sports Management - PhD in Education
  • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor's Programs in 2014 by U.S. News & World Report.
  • Implements a one-to-one teaching model, partnering one student with one faculty member in each course.
  • 100% of faculty members hold doctoral degrees.
  • No physical residency requirements, allowing students to pursue their degree online.
  • Committed to innovation, diversity, excellence, and accountability since its founding in 1996.
  • Offers several programs in business, education, psychology, and more.
  • Doctor of Health Professionals Education
  • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs by U.S. News & World Report
  • A celebrated educational institution focusing on Health Sciences
  • Offering Online Bachelor's & Master's degrees
  • Logan University is HLC & CCE accredited
  • Sports Marketing and Media, Bachelor of Science
  • Push Your Creativity To The Next Level.
  • Full Sail’s curriculum combines elements of creativity, art, business and life skills, technical prowess, and academic achievement.
  • Full Sail offers accelerated programs, so a degree that would normally take four years takes 24 months on average.
  • Students work with industry-standard tools and technologies, allowing them to gain practical knowledge and real-world experience.
  • Join us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram to interact with our community, read about grad success, and see campus images.
  • MS in Sport Management - Tourism :Thesis
  • MS in Sport Management - Tourism : Non-Thesis
  • Liberty University’s online programs ranked in the top 10 out of more than 2,100 colleges & universities for academic quality, affordability, and accessibility.*
  • 100% online programs at associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral level.**
  • Transfer up to 90 credits into an undergraduate degree program.
  • Up to 50% of your master’s degree can be transferred in to help you get the most out of your hard work and maximize the credit you previously earned.
  • Personal Fitness Trainer/Health and Wellness Professional Program
  • Offers training in various types of massage therapy, physical therapy/sports rehab, and personal fitness training & wellness.
  • Teaches in an environment that promotes learning and encourages empathetic and compassionate therapists.
  • Career service professionals work directly with students from the start of their program, and help them pursue employment in day spas, luxury hotels, cruise ships, and other locations.
  • Students can work in the SOCHI Massage Clinic to gain experience and build their career skills.
  • Financial aid representatives help students develop a personalized financial plan to finance their tuition.
camnpus icon
Request Info
  • B.S. in Sport Management
  • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
  • Founded in 1890, it has a campus in Waterbury, CT and offers online degree program in eight-week modules, six times a year.
  • About 800 students are enrolled at the main campus, and about half of them commute.
  • Online courses help make it possible for students to earn a bachelor’s degree in as little as 24 months and a master’s degree in 12-18 months.
  • AA - Sports and Rehabilitation Therapy
Fremont College traces its roots to Platt College’s founding in St. Joseph, Missouri, in 1879, and the Southern California branch campus was established in 1986. The most significant evolution of the College started when its third CEO, Dr. Sabrina Kay, assumed leadership in 2007. Fremont College became an innovative center adopting the framework of Work-Based Learning Leadership at the Wharton School and Dr. Kay’s thesis on improved learning through practice and collaboration.
camnpus icon
Request Info

We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for Dietitians and Nutritionists.

Numbers in parentheses are counts of relevant campus-based schools in the state; online schools may also be available.

Back to Top