Dietitians give advice on diet to patients. They work out what foods and drinks are suitable for individual patients, to keep them healthy and to treat or prevent certain illnesses.
You could be:
running a clinic to advise patients on nutrition
working with patients with conditions such as diabetes, obesity, eating disorders or food allergies
visiting patients on the hospital wards, discussing their needs with health colleagues
collecting information on diets and analysing results
giving general advice on healthy eating to individuals or groups
keeping up to date with new theories and research on dietetics
preparing educational promotional materials for use in schools or community centres
keeping records of patients and writing reports
specialising in one area such as paediatrics (children) or renal (kidney) dietetics.
Starting off as a dietitian with the NHS you would be on the Agenda for Change salary scales. The current pay scales are from April 2021. You would start on Band 5, £26,104 to £32,915 a year. With experience and specialisation you could move on to Band 6, £33,072 to £40,736 a year or Band 7, £40,872 to £47,846 a year.
Outside the NHS your income would vary according to who your employer was.
Work is usually in a hospital or health centre but you may sometimes visit patients at home.
You may need to travel to visit patients.
You may be part of a research team, working in a laboratory.
Working hours are normally regular but there may be occasional weekend and evening work.
To become a dietitian you need a degree (SCQF Level 9-10) approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).
In Scotland Glasgow Caledonian, Queen Margaret and Robert Gordon universities offer relevant degrees (SCQF Level 10) leading to a career in dietetics. Check individual institutions for entry requirements.
You can take a degree in a biological subject (biochemistry and human physiology), followed by a postgraduate course (SCQF Level 11) in dietetics at Queen Margaret University.
After training you must register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) before starting work.
You will require a satisfactory criminal record check from Disclosure Scotland to show that you are suitable for this type of work. Contact Disclosure Scotland for details on the type you would need.
You may have to undergo an occupational health check and provide evidence of immunisation.
Relevant experience is helpful.
Most dietitians work in the NHS. You might also find work with local authorities, in the food industry, education, the pharmaceutical industry, research, sports nutrition, health promotion or in the private health sector.
The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) is the UK-wide regulatory body responsible for setting and maintaining standards of professional training, performance and conduct in the following health care professions: Arts Therapists; Audiologist; Biomedical Scientist; Chiropodist and Podiatrist; Clinical Scientist; Dietician; Dramatherapist; Occupational Therapist; Operating Department Practitioner; Orthoptist; Paramedic; Physiotherapist; Practitioner Psychologist; Prosthetist and Orthotist; Radiographer; Speech and Language Therapist. (The HCPC may regulate other healthcare professions in the future.) The HCPC website contains a register of all approved courses in the above professions.