What Does a Registered Dietitian Do?

Healthy food can be life-changing. What if you could help people understand and embrace that choice? Then this job could be for you. Registered Dietitians (RD) design nutrition programs to improve patient well-being or to boost disease recovery. These food and nutrition experts may also advise someone who wants to embrace a healthier lifestyle. A dietitian explains how smart food choices help the body function better, including what foods to eat and what to avoid.

Clinical dietitians work in a traditional medical setting like a hospital or nursing home while community dietitians work with corporations or communities to teach better eating habits. Food service dietitians, sometimes called management dietitians, oversee food planning for a cafeteria, food company or school. Many dietitians also work in private practice.

$ 37,000 - $ 90,000
$ 63,000
A registered dietitian helps people embrace a healthy diet and understand the role of good nutrition
A registered dietitian helps clients understand how food affects every aspect of long-term health, and why fruits and vegetables are so powerful. (Credit: Komsan Loonprom/Shutterstock)

Job Responsibilities

  • Assess nutritional needs
  • Consult with doctors and other healthcare personnel
  • Explain the principles of healthy eating and nutrition and counsel patients to follow them
  • Create customized meal plans and adjust them as needed
  • Keep up with the latest nutrition research


A registered dietitian (RD) must earn a bachelor’s degree in an accredited program, complete several hundred hours of supervised practice and take an exam to become credentialed through the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR). Many states require a license to practice. Some employers look for the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) credential.

In general there are two program approaches. A coordinated program in dietetics provides classroom and supervised practical experience at the same time. In a didactic program, classes are followed by a dietetic internship or supervised experience, which can last eight to 24 months.

Many hold advanced degrees and some hold additional certifications in areas of specialization, like pediatric or sports nutrition. The requirements for licensure and certification vary by state, but continued professional education is required to maintain certification.

Being a Registered Dietitian

'You have to be a good listener and be able to develop a good rapport with people,' said registered dietician Cathy Shaw.

Being a Registered Dietitian

Catherine Shaw knows that some people may equate her job with the “food police,” but the truth is so much more interesting. A registered dietitian (RD) has the knowledge and the relationships to help people change in ways they didn’t think possible. 

“When we work closely with patients on skills to help facilitate lifestyle change, they are so appreciative when they start feeling better and are able to enjoy their lives more,” she says.

Read more about why being an RD could be a great fit for you.

  • Communicate and listen well
  • Understand complicated research and are able to translate it for everyday use
  • Enjoy working with people and helping solve problems
  • Have strong organization skills

Registered Dietitian Training in Your Area

Fresno City College logo

Food and Nutrition Dietetic Service Supervisor Certificate

Fresno City College
Fresno (0.0 Miles)
Santa Rosa Junior College logo

Dietary Manager Certificate

Santa Rosa Junior College
Santa Rosa (0.0 Miles)
Cuyahoga Community College

Dietary Management Certificate

Cuyahoga Community College
Cleveland (0.0 Miles)
Glendale Community College logo

Dietetic Services Supervisor, A.S.

Glendale Community College (CA)
Glendale (0.0 Miles)
Cuyahoga Community College

Dietetic Technology, A.A.S.

Cuyahoga Community College
Cleveland (0.0 Miles)
Trident Technical College logo

Dietary Manager Certificate

Trident Technical College
Charleston (0.0 Miles)
Glendale Community College logo

Dietetic Services Supervisor Certificate

Glendale Community College (CA)
Glendale (0.0 Miles)
University of Arkansas Community College - Morrilton logo

Dietary Management Certificate Of Proficiency

University of Arkansas Community College - Morrilton
Morrilton (0.0 Miles)

Nutrition Science, A.A.

South Seattle College
Seattle (0.0 Miles)
Gateway Community College

Nutritional Science

GateWay Community College (AZ)
Phoenix (0.0 Miles)
Paradise Valley Community College

Dietetic Technology, A.A.S.

Paradise Valley Community College
Phoenix (0.0 Miles)
Merritt College logo

Dietary Manager (Dietetic Service Supervisor) Certificate

Merritt College
Oakland (0.0 Miles)