To put it simply, if you want to become a dietitian, you need to hold a relevant degree. There is no way around this, no short cut, you need the full degree level qualifications. And this applies to both the UK and the USA, although in the USA the requirements differ very slightly dependant on state, the question that you should in fact be asking is 'How To Become A Registered Dietician'.
How To Become A Dietitian
Hoping to become a professional dietitian? Read this guide to find out how to get into this awesome career.
How To Become A Registered Dietitian (UK)
To become a dietician in the UK you will need to obtain a degree approved by the British Dietetic Association (BDA), and those who hold certain science based degrees may be able to become a dietician by completing a two year postgraduate diploma course. Most degrees in the area of nutrition and diet will take 4 years to complete, with the website bda.uk.com providing a full list of accredited courses.
You will also need to ensure that your chosen course is approved by the Health Professions Council, particularly if you hope to gain employment within that particular organisation at any stage in your career. If you are hoping to gain employment within the NHS, the largest employer of dieticians, you may be able to get help with your course fees and living expenses - the BDA website has a full list of courses which they may part fund on your behalf.
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How To Become A Registered Dietitian (USA)
Just like the UK, you need to obtain a relevant accredited degree to become a dietitian, this can be a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics, a Bachelor of Science in Food & Nutrition, or another accredited and acceptable food related degree. The accreditation must be approved by the American Dietetic Association (ADA). Some Chemistry or Microbiology degrees are also acceptable, you should always check the suitability of a degree to your career ambitions prior to accepting a university offer.
Once you have obtained a degree you may have to complete a Dietitian Certificate, dependant on your state, with 35 states requiring licensing, 12 requiring certification, and 1 state requiring registration. That is 3 states short of course, I have no idea why, I can only assume that there are 3 completely unregulated states - if your state is unregulated, then I would recommend moving to pursue your career if you wish to be respected. A national certification is offered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR), this certificate earns the right to use the title Registered Dietitian (RD) and is acceptable nationwide.
Once you have the met the requirements of your state, as per above, you are free to pursue your career by finding an employer. The largest employers of dieticians are hospitals and nursing homes, however other employers of nutritional experts can include professional sports teams and sports colleges. It is also possible to advance into specialist areas through the completion of further studies at master's level, a move which could see you earning more money.
Earning Prospects As A Dietitian
According to Salary.com the middle 50% of dieticians in the USA earn between $45058 and $55583 per year, whilst the median salary for dieticians is $49980. A normal working week for a dietitian would be around the standard 40 hours per week.
In the UK a dietitian can expect to start on around £18000, with senior dietitians generally earning around double that amount. The typical working week for salaried dietitians in the UK is 38 hours per week.