What Degree Is Required to Become a Dietician?

Find out what education is necessary to become a dietitian by reading on. Get info about licensing and certification in this field, and check out the job duties of dietitians. Schools offering Nutrition degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Education

A bachelor's degree is the minimum amount of education necessary for a career as a dietitian. Graduate degrees are also available and recommended for higher-level positions. Suitable majors you'll want to pursue include food service systems management, dietetics, and food nutrition. Ideally, you'll want to pursue a degree program that has accreditation and approval from the American Dietetic Association's Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education.

Coursework you can expect to complete in a dietitian program includes advanced nutrition, community nutrition, nutrition counseling, food science principles, life cycle nutrition, medical nutrition, and food service management. Some science classes you may take include biochemistry, chemistry, human anatomy, physiology, and microbiology.

Important Facts About This Occupation

Median Salary (2014) $56,950 (for all dietitians and nutritionists)
Job Outlook (2012-2022) 21%
Similar Occupations Rehabilitation counselor, registered nurse, health educator, health community worker
Key Skills Empathy; problem-solving, listening, analytical, organizational, and speaking skills

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Licensing and Certification

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), almost all states in the U.S. have laws regulating dietitians. While there are a very few states that do not require any regulations, most mandate licensure; some require registration and certification. In most cases, a minimum amount of education is necessary, along with some work experience, to qualify for registration, licensure, or certification.

Career Overview

A dietitian is someone who promotes healthy dietary habits by creating and supervising meals, meal preparation, and nutritional programs. The primary goal of a dietitian is to ensure that a client is eating a diet suitable for his or her health. For example, if someone is overweight, a dietitian may recommend a reduced-calorie diet.

Job Options

One field you could enter is clinical dietetics. In this role, you'll work as a dietitian in a nursing care facility, a hospital, or similar healthcare institution. By working with doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers, you'll get to know your patients, and you'll be able to better cater to their personal diet needs.

If you're more interested in working with the community, then you can become a community dietitian. In this role, you'd work for health maintenance businesses or in public health clinics to help educate citizens on healthy eating habits and how to prevent food-related illnesses and diseases. In addition to general health education, you'll also provide insights into special dieting needs for children, the elderly, or individuals with health issues.

Other dietitian occupations include consulting and management careers. These positions are similar to the dietitian careers above, but they're generally related to different businesses or organizations like cafeterias, schools, prisons, or private practices.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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