Dietitian And Nutritionist Career
Dietitian and Nutritionist Career
Professionals pursuing a dietitian and nutritionist career help people by developing food and nutrition programs or providing counseling to them to improve their health through dietary modifications.
Where Do They Work?
Dietitians and nutritionists work in a number of settings including schools, hospitals, clinics, prisons, research facilities and even manufacturing industries.
What Do They Do?
A dietitian and nutritionist career involves promoting a healthy lifestyle and treating medical conditions through nutritional advice and dietary plans. Everyday activities and duties of dietitians and nutritionists include:
- Evaluating nutritional needs and current dietary intake of clients and suggesting diet plans;
- Counseling of groups and individuals regarding healthy eating;
- Keeping abreast with latest nutritional research;
- Helping patients deal with food intolerances and allergies;
- Recommending clauses to be included in public policies such as defining standards for institutions or food fortification etc.; and
- Developing meal plans that meet the cost, nutritional needs and preferences of clients.
To take up a dietitian and nutritionist career, you will need at least a bachelor’s degree in Food and Nutrition, Food Science, Dietetics or a related field. For research positions, you may need a master’s or a doctorate degree. When selecting a program, you should look for one which has been approved by the American Dietetic Association’s Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education.
Generally the coursework in most educational programs will include areas like Nutrition, Food Science, Chemistry, Biology, Physiology, Psychology, Anatomy and Organizational Management.
Licensure and Certification
Requirements for licensure and certification vary from state to state. The first step after graduation is to pass the Commission on Dietetic Registration exam and become registered. Next, graduates should undertake an internship or supervised training which can span from six months to two years. However, if your degree program had training as part of the coursework, you may get a head start without these too.
Next you need to find out whether the state you want to practice in requires a certification or a license. If it does you would need to meet requirements for them before you can practice.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual pay for this career was $53,250 in May 2010 with the lowest 10% earning $33,330 and top 10% earning more than $75,480.