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This page will explain what a dietitian does, where a dietitian works and how you can become a dietitian. Scroll down the page or click the buttons below to take you straight to that section.

What is a dietitian?

What is a dietitian?

A dietitian is a specialist who gives people advice on food, health and nutrition.

What is a dietitian?

What do dietitians do?

What is dietetics?

To become a dietitian, you will study a subject called ‘dietetics’.

You learn about food and nutrition and how this affects people’s health.

When you become a dietitian, you use this knowledge to help people stay healthy and manage health conditions.

Where do dietitians work?

Dietitians work in lots of different places.

When they leave university, many dietitians work in the NHS. This could be in a hospital or a clinic in a GP's surgery or health centre.

Dietitians work in the community in schools, prisons and care homes. Some work in a patient or client’s own home.

All dietitians teach people about nutrition.

What areas do they work in?

Dietitians work in a huge variety of areas: (TT - not a fan of the table)

cardiovascular disease

low income groups

palliative/end of life care

critical care (patients who are seriously ill and need constant monitoring)


parenteral and enteral nutrition (fed by a tube to the gut or vein)

cystic fibrosis

mental health

preconception and pregnancy


musculoskeletal disorders

public health

food allergy

neurological diseases (like Parkinson's and motor neurone disease)

renal (kidney) nutrition

food services


respiratory disease (COPD)


nutrition support

specialised diets (like vegan, allergies and intolerances)

gastroenterology (the digestive system)


sports nutrition

HIV care

older people

sustainable diets

immunology and immune diseases


women's health

learning disabilities



Who do they work with?

Dietitians help everyone understand how food and nutrition affect health. This includes:

  • healthy people

  • people at risk of getting an illness or disease

  • people who have a medical condition

  • student dietitians

  • other healthcare workers 

  • athletes and trainers

  • people working in the food industry. For example, restaurants, caterers and manufacturers

Dietitians often work as part of a multi-disciplinary team. That is a team of other healthcare workers like doctors, nurses, psychologists and occupational therapists. Working as a team means they can find the best approach for a patient in hospital or in the community. 

Why become a dietitian?

How can I become a dietitian?

Why study dietetics?

You must do a degree in dietetics to become a dietitian.  You can study for an undergraduate degree for three or four years, which includes work placements.

Where to study dietetics

If you already have a degree in life sciences – 2:1 or above with adequate human physiology and biochemistry – you could apply for a two-year postgraduate course. 


Lots of students take a loan from a student loan service to pay their university fees and other living costs. But if you are studying dietetics, depending on where you study in the UK, you could get your fees paid, and apply for funding towards your fees and other costs such as living, travel and childcare.

What GCSE and A level subjects do I need to become a dietitian?

You’ll usually need:

  • at least five GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), including English, maths, and a science

  • three A levels, including biology (some also need chemistry)

What can I do if I don’t have GCSEs and A levels?

There are other routes for students who have not got GCSEs and A levels. You can do equivalent courses such as Functional Skills, International Baccalaureate, Access to Science, BTEC Diploma, and Foundation courses in Science. Contact the universities directly for specific entry requirements.

Work experience

It is a good idea to do some work experience before applying for a course or job as an assistant. 

Arrange a visit to a dietetic department at your local hospital so you can get an idea of what the work is like and whether it would suit you. 

Voluntary or paid work experience, or working as a dietetic assistant practitioner or support worker, will also show your interest and understanding of the area. 

Contact the dietetic manager at your local hospital to ask about opportunities.

Experience in care work, with a nutrition-related charity or as a healthcare assistant is also useful.