How To Become A Dietitian In Australia: A Complete Guide 

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Students want to know how they can become dietitians in Australia.


Do you have a passion for food and nutrition, a healthy lifestyle, and a desire to improve the health of others? If yes, a career as a dietitian could be perfect for you.


Dietitians are registered health professionals qualified in dietetics. They apply nutrition art and science to diagnose nutritional problems, avoid or treat disease by making healthy dietary choices and promote health in individuals, groups, and communities.


To work as a Dietitian in Australia, you need a bachelor's degree in dietetics and accreditation with Dietary Australia. Having a postgraduate qualification is also common to work in this role.


Read this article to learn what it is like to be a dietitian, including their average earnings, how long it takes, degrees, courses, qualifications, salary, and how to become one in Australia.



1. What Are Dietitians?


Dietitians are qualified healthcare specialists in health, diet, and nutrition. They teach eating habits to people of all age groups and guide them in managing their diet, enhancing their health, and lowering the risk of illnesses.


Dietitians work with healthcare workers, community members, and patients to identify healthy nutrition and recognize a diet's health consequences.



2. What Are The Different Types Of Dietitians?


There are three different types of dietitians: 



  • Clinical Dietitians: They work in hospitals, long-term care facilities, and nursing homes to provide medical nutrition to patients.


  • Management Dietitians: Management dietitians work in different settings within the food service industry, such as cafeterias, hospitals, or corporations. They develop meal plans, supervise other kitchen staff or dietitians and the overall kitchen operation, and handle daily management activities.


  • Community Dietitians: They work in the public arena to conduct informative nutrition programs for individuals or specific groups of people like pregnant women. Some work settings include public health clinics, government agencies, health maintenance organizations, and not-for-profit organizations.



3. Duties Of A Dietitian


As a dietitian, you can expect to perform the following tasks and duties:


  • Create customized diet plans and menus considering medical conditions, personal preferences, and nutritional requirements of a person, groups, communities, and cultural and ethnic groups.

  • Educate people on the nutritional requirements, healthy eating patterns, and significance of diet through reports, health and nutrition policies, meetings, public speaking, or workshops

  • Supervise the food preparation, intake, effects, and serving 

  • Assess the client's diet and health, and diagnose nutrition-related issues

  • Determine the nutritional content of foods and identify the best foods for specific illnesses, or needs

  • Consult with other healthcare professionals and related workers to manage patients' nutritional and dietary needs.

  • Stay updated with current information and practices.

  • Perform research and understand health, nutrition, and food as it relates to communities

  • Meet with individuals to perform nutrition assessments and manage nutrition with health objectives.



4. What Skills Do You Need To Become A Dietician?


If you have the following personal attributes, you are most suited to work in this role. 


  • Interest in nutrition, health, and food

  • Enjoy working with people 

  • Aptitude for science

  • Excellent communication skills

  • Good listening abilities

  • Compassionate and Understanding

  • Good with numbers to calculate body mass index, calorie count, body fat percentages, etc., accurately

  • Able to take initiative

  • Problem-solving abilities

  • Flexible approach 

  • Persuasive

  • Good analytical skills

  • Presentable

  • Good organizational skills



5. What Qualifications Do I Need To Be A Dietician?


You need to complete a degree accredited by Dietitians Australia and join the Accredited Practising Dietitian program to be a dietitian in Australia.


  • Gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education in one or more perquisite subjects such as English, chemistry, mathematics, and biology 

  • Study a dietetics degree in Australia accredited by "Dietitians Australia". Alternatively, complete an undergraduate degree, and follow it up with an accredited postgraduate dietetics degree. Check the Dietitians Association of Australia website to find a list of accredited courses. Graduates of DAA-accredited courses are eligible to gain membership in the association.

  • Gaining "Accredited Practicing Dietitian" status is a must to practice as a dietician in Australia. Complete one year of a supervised Provisional Program to be eligible to apply for accreditation from the Dietitians Association of Australia. 

  • To keep your accreditation active, you must demonstrate 30 hours of continuing professional development yearly and maintain the recency of practice hours. Renew your accreditation once every year. 



6. Steps To Become A Dietitian In Australia


Here are the steps to pursue a dietitian profession in Australia:



Step 1: Complete A Dietitian Course


There are different tertiary pathways to becoming a dietitian. You can enter the role with just a bachelor's degree in dietetics.


If you hold a degree in any related discipline, such as a Bachelor of Science, complete an accredited postgraduate qualification in dietetics to apply for accreditation. 


Some universities also offer dual dietitian courses, allowing one to study bachelor's and Master's degrees in a single course in less time.


  • Bachelor of Science – The University of Sydney

  • Bachelor of Nutritional Science/Master of Dietetics – Victoria University

  • Bachelor of Nutrition Science (Dietetics Pathway) – Deakin University

  • Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics (Honours) – The University of New Castle

  • Master of Dietetics Studies - The University of Queensland

  • Master of Dietetic Practice - La Trobe University



Refer Accredited Dietetics Education Programs website to find the complete list of universities and their accredited dietetic programs in each state.



Step 2: Undertake Training


After completing the tertiary study, new graduate dietitians must find and work with an Accredited Practising Dietitian for a 12-month mentoring partnership. It will help them build and expand the necessary skills to work in this role.



Step 3: Complete Necessary Checks


In some states, in addition to qualification, you also require obtaining a National Police Certificate, a Working with Children Check, and providing a First Aid Certificate and immunizations.



Step 4: Obtain The Required Accreditation


You can apply for accreditation with the Dietitians Association of Australia to become an Accredited Practicing Dietitian after completing the required qualifications, the 12-month supervised work program, and other state-level requirements. 


Once you receive your APD accreditation, you can start practising as a dietitian.



Step 5: Postgraduate Commitments


APDs must complete at least 30 hours of continuing professional development each year. Dietitians Australia supports professional development via its education centre that offers informational courses, podcasts, webinars, and events.


It shows that you are up to date on new research and working toward achieving your personal learning goals and objectives. It is a fundamental requirement to maintain APD status.



7. How Much Does A Dietitian Earn In Australia?


The average pay of a dietician depends on experience and skills. Dieticians who work in top-level management positions earn the highest level of salary in this profession.


The work setting of a dietician also influences their salary. Dietitians working in government-funded community health nutrition jobs, or hospitals, earn an hourly rate based on an award.


The NSW Health Service Health Professionals Award, Health Practitioners (Queensland Health) Certified Agreement, and the Health Practitioner and Support Services Award.


It is approx. $25/hour for entry-level dietitians with an undergraduate degree working full-time.


On the other hand, dietitians who work for a private business earn a salary or wage based on the contractual agreement. It is defined as a percentage of fees per consult and depends on the Health Practitioner and Support Services Award.


Those employed in a hospital setting also earn incentive schemes or bonuses with their monthly salary.



8. Dietitian Vs Nutritionist Salary In Australia


According to Pay Scale, the average salary for a Dietitian is AU$66,194 per year, or an hourly equivalent of AU$33.79.


On the other hand, the average annual pay for a Nutritionist is AU$59,323 or an hourly equivalent of AU$30,32.



9. Job Outlook For Dieticians In Australia


ANZSCO Occupation Group: 251111 Dieticians


The job of a Dietician is significant in enhancing health and well-being on all levels- mental, physical, and emotional. With their specialized knowledge of health science, food, and nutrition, they positively influence the lives of millions all across the globe.


There is a high demand for dietitians in various health organizations such as public and private hospitals, mental health facilities, fitness centres, aged care, community health centres, sports clubs, private health practices, and government and non-government organizations.



Working Arrangements


51% of Dietitians work full-time 41 hours per week, which is similar to the average of all other jobs.



Major Industries For Employment


  • Health Care And Social Assistance: 86.1%

  • Public Administration And Safety: 4.5%

  • Education And Training: 3.0%

  • Other Services: 1.3%

  • Other Industries: 4.4%



Employment Percentage Across Australia


  • New South Wales: 33.1%

  • Victoria: 25.8%

  • Queensland: 21.1%

  • South Australia: 6.5%

  • Western Australia: 8.6%

  • Tasmania: 1.6%

  • Northern Territory: 1.2%

  • Australian Capital Territory: 2.2%



Worker's Age And Gender Profile


  • The average age of Dietitians is 33 years, with most of them between the age of 25 and 34. 

  • Females constitute 95% of the workforce which is 47 percentage points above the average of all other jobs - 48%.



10. Where Do Dietitians Work?


Dieticians work in various settings providing educational nutrition programs to individuals and groups. These include: 


  • Rural/urban hospitals 

  • Public health clinics

  • Nonprofit organizations

  • Corporate organizations 

  • Community health centres

  • Sport clubs 

  • Medical centre clinics 

  • Paediatric centres 

  • Nursing Homes

  • Food science and technology centres

  • Food industries

  • Food and nutrition-related media and publishing agencies 

  • Food production and provision units

  • Food safety and regulation agencies

  • Aged care centres 

  • Health maintenance organizations (HMOs)

  • Educational institutions and Training centres

  • State and Federal Government Health Departments (to research nutrition and develop policy related to public health nutrition and food)


The profession also provides opportunities to run private practices or consulting.



11. Work Environment Of Dietitians


These healthcare professionals work indoors in several clinical and non-clinical settings, including hospitals, aged care facilities, doctor's offices, and government departments, to formulate health policy, schools, public health and research, and private clinics.


Their work involves a high level of contact with the public. While some dietitians work alone, others work in a multidisciplinary team with other healthcare workers and community members.


Their workload and time commitments may change throughout the year based on the season and where they are employed. Unlike the usual 9 am to 5 pm job, dietitians work irregular hours, including early mornings, weekends, holidays, late nights, or work across the week. 


In private practice, they may work in aged care, consult with clients over skype, conduct group presentations, make home visits, meet GPs, implement marketing strategies, network with other health professionals, etc. 


Self-employed dietitians may have a more flexible schedule than their counterparts. Still, they must travel between clinics and clients in several locations and work with several teams and organizations to earn a consistent income. 


The challenging part of this role is that a varied workload may make it difficult to balance things. Sometimes, they may find more work, but at other times there may need to be more work.


Additionally, the ability to work under high -pressure and adaptability to changing work settings are must-have traits for this profession.



12. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)



How Long Is A Dietitian Degree In Australia?


There are different pathways to becoming an Accredited Practising Dietitian in Australia.


You can complete a 4-year undergraduate Dietitians Australia accredited course, such as a Bachelor of Dietetics.


Alternatively, you can complete a 3-year full-time Bachelor of Science degree and continue with a relevant postgraduate qualification, a 1.5-year full-time Master of Dietetics.

No matter which course you choose, all dietitians courses involve at least 20 weeks of placement to fulfil national competency standards.


To become a certified dietitian in Australia, after completing the Dietitians Australia accredited courses, you must apply for accreditation and become a member of Dietitians Australia.


Ideally, if you pursue a dietitian course full-time, it will take four to 4.5 years to become an Accredited Practising Dietitian in Australia. If you study part-time, it may take you longer to become one in Australia.



How Long Does It Take To Become A Dietitian In Australia?


Depending on the pathway to becoming a fully qualified dietitian, it can take 4 to 5 years after leaving Year 12.


Step 1:  Pass your Year 12 education in English, Chemistry, Biology, Mathematics, and Health


Step 2: Complete an accredited qualification in the dietetics-related program to become eligible for entry-level roles in the industry.


  • 4-year Bachelor of Dietetics

  • 3-year Bachelor of Science and 1.5-year Master of Dietetics 

  • 5-year Bachelor of Nutrition/Master of Dietetics and Food Innovation


Step 3: Complete the required 20 weeks of work experience/internships and clinical placements to become eligible to apply for accreditation with the Dietitians Association of Australia.


Step 4: Obtain a National Police Check, up-to-date immunizations, a Working with Children Check, and a First aid certificate. Apply for accreditation through the Dietitians Association of Australia. 



Is Becoming A Dietitian Hard?


Aspiring dietitians must know that it is a highly competitive job market.


Every year several students graduate with a dietitian degree to compete for only a few positions. Since only a few full-time positions are available, they often work multiple jobs in varying locations to make up for full-time hours.


Getting a job as a dietitian may be challenging but possible. If you are willing to put dedicated efforts into studying and networking, you can get to where you have always wanted to be. And networking, you can get to where you have always wanted to be.



Are Dietitians In Demand In Australia?


As more and more Aussies are becoming health and diet conscious, there is high future demand for a dietitian in Australia.


The role is rewarding, where you get the opportunity to positively impact the lives of others by avoiding/preventing the chances of illness due to poor diet and improving their overall health and wellness.


Looking at the significance of the dietitian's role, they are in need in various industries, such as the Health Care and Social Assistance industry. The highest demand is in New South Wales and the ACT.



Nutritionist Vs Dietician In Australia


Nutritionists differ from dietitians in various ways. Firstly, no formal qualification and Dietitians Australia accreditation is required to become and work as a nutritionist.


However, to work as a dietitian, it is mandatory to complete an accredited degree and obtain a Dietitians Australia accreditation to work in the role. That's why all dietitians can work as nutritionists rather than vice versa. 


Secondly, in terms of the type of work, only dietitians are accredited to work in hospitals and provide medical nutrition therapy to patients. It is because dietitians undergo individual counselling and training in hospitals, community nutrition, and food service as part of their studies. 


It gives them the expertise to work in a clinical environment in sports clubs and private practice, which isn't the case with a nutritionist.


Thirdly, all accredited dietitians are entitled to receive rebates via Medicare, NDIS, DVA, and a broad array of Health Insurance Funds. However, some health insurance funds offer rebates for nutritionists registered with The Nutrition Society of Australia.


Hence, dietetics are healthcare professionals that specialize in nutrition studies. They can work in any of the areas where nutritionists work and can provide additional services in the form of nutrition advice to treat a broad range of ailments and health issues such as diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders, and food allergies in people.



What Are The Career Pathways For Dietitians?


The skills you develop by studying dietetics prepare you for a range of careers, including:


  • Dietitian

  • Nutritionist

  • Health promotion officer

  • Nutrition communications expert

  • Food researcher



13. Conclusion


A career in dietetics is rewarding as you assist people in understanding how health and nutrition are interrelated. You play an integral role in preventing and combating illnesses and improving overall health and well-being in your community worldwide.


If you enjoy helping people lead a healthy and happy life, you will find a career as a dietitian to be highly fulfilling, satisfying, and mind-expanding.


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