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Dietitian: Salary and career prospects

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Career progression as a dietitian is largely based on continuing professional development (CPD) and keeping up to date with changes in the industry


Jobs in the NHS consist of nine pay bands and are usually covered by the Agenda for Change (AfC) Pay Rates .

  • Starting salaries for qualified dietitians (band 5) range from £21,478 to £27,901.
  • Dietitians at specialist level (band 6) can earn between £25,783 and £34,530.
  • At advanced level (band 7), you can earn between £30,764 and £40,558.

There are on-call and special duty allowances for dietitians working in the NHS. In London and the South East, a cost of living allowance is available.

Salaries in industry are not necessarily higher than in the NHS.

Income figures are intended as a guide only.

Professional training

You must undertake CPD and keep up to date with changes and research in your area once registered with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC) .

As a registered dietitian you can become a full member of the British Dietetic Association (BDA) , which runs regular post-registration training. Sessions are usually organised by special interest groups within the association and focus on areas of expertise. Courses in professionalism skills and leadership and management are also available. Food manufacturers also offer courses for dietitians about new products, and these are sometimes run via BDA branches.

The BDA offers a five-year programme providing you with a way to evidence your CPD. For further details see BDA Professional Development Award .

You may also wish to undertake postgraduate study in your area of specialism. Masters modules are available in areas of dietetic practice which can be taken either as stand-alone or Masters programmes. See the BDA list of accredited universities  and search for postgraduate dietetic courses.

Career development

In the NHS, there are clearly defined roles for career progression, starting with a basic grade dietitian at band 5, moving to the dietitian specialist role at band 6 and then the more advanced roles at band 7. Once you've built up experience, you may choose to progress to management level with responsibility for a team, department and budget.

The path you choose will depend on your career interests, for example working in a community-based role in patients' homes or at a GP clinic. You may decide to specialise in a specific area such as gastroenterology or with a specific group of clients, such as children or elderly people.

Dietitians in the food and drink industry can move into product development and marketing roles. You may also choose to do further training and move into teaching and research, and there are also opportunities in sport, public relations, scientific research and journalism.

Find out more about the marketing, teaching, scientific and journalism industries.

Self-employment is also an option, providing the flexibility to choose how your career develops according to your interests. This might involve working for organisations such as the NHS on a freelance basis in combination with other activities such as writing for health publications.

Written by AGCAS editors
July 2014

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