How to Become a Dietitian
How to Become a Dietitian
As more healthcare professionals and their patients recognize the importance of nutrition in disease prevention, weight and health management and overall wellness, the demand for professionals who can assess nutritional needs and create healthy eating plans is growing. Dietitians play a key role in assisting groups and individuals in improving their nutrition and their health.
What does a dietitian do?
These nutrition professionals (also referred to as nutritionists, but have slightly different educational requirements) work in a variety of settings including hospitals, schools, public health clinics, correctional facilities, nursing care facilities and private practice. Some dietitians plan and manage food programs in an institutional setting, while others specialize in a particular area of dietetics, such as weight management, gerontological nutrition, diabetic nutrition or nutrition for children. With the growing interest in healthy eating and nutrition, dietitians also provide services to other industries, such as food analysis and marketing for the food manufacturing industry.
In general, a dietitian or nutritionist will plan and oversee meal preparation for institutions, educate clients or community groups about proper nutrition and healthful eating, assess the nutritional needs of and create nutritional plans for clients, patients or community groups.
What kind of training does a dietitian need?
Prospective dietitians or nutritionists should expect to complete a bachelor degree in dietetics, nutrition or a related field. Each state has specific requirements in order to practice as a dietitian or nutritionist in that state. Depending on the state, this will include registration, certification or licensure.
Aside from state requirements, voluntary registration is available through the Commission on Dietetic Registration of the American Dietetic Association and results in a Registered Dietitian (RD) credential upon successful completion. To receive this certification, prospective RDs must complete a program accredited by the Commission on Dietetic Registration, complete an approved dietitian internship, and pass an examination.
Registered Dietitians must complete 75 continuing education credits in each five year period to maintain their registration. Significant career advancement is possible, particularly for dietitians who continue their education by obtaining a master degree or taking courses in specialized areas of nutrition. Click here to get a list of online dietitian and nutritionist programs.
What are the prospects for a career as a dietitian?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), opportunities for dietitian and nutritionist jobs are expected to increase from 57,000 by 9% to 62,000 by 2016, which is in line with the average expected growth across all industries. Also according to the BLS, dietitians who obtain advanced degrees or certifications, or who specialize in diabetes or gerontology, are expected to experience better employment opportunities than other dietitians. (1) Click to find out how to become a nutritionist or dietitian.
How much do dietitians make?
The median base salary range for dietitians and nutritionists across the United States is $44,900 to $55,400. (2)
Proper nutrition is an important part of health management and can extend lives. Choosing a career as a dietitian gives you the opportunity to significantly impact both the length and quality of the lives of one’s clients. If you enjoy working with people and helping people live longer, healthier lives, nutritionist or dietitian careers provide an excellent means to do that.