What Does a Pediatric Dietician Do?

Pediatric dietitians can play a large role in ensuring children and teenagers get the proper nutrition their bodies need. Read on to learn about what you may do if you become a pediatric dietitian. Schools offering Nutrition degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Job Duties

A pediatric dietitian specializes in creating and evaluating nutrition programs and policies for children from infancy up through 18 years of age. You might find work in hospitals, clinics, community wellness centers, and public or private school systems. You may be asked to work with doctors, nurses, school officials, and government agencies to create and implement nutritional programs for children.

If you work in a hospital or clinic, you might meet directly with children and their parents to develop weight management plans or suggest dietary modifications for children with chronic diseases. You might also provide nutrition services for schools or community centers, such as creating student breakfast and lunch menus, overseeing food production in school cafeterias, or providing shopping and cooking advice to families.

Important Facts About This Occupation

Median Salary (2014) $56,950 (for all dietitians and nutritionists)
Job Outlook (2012-2022) 21% increase in employment opportunities (for all dietitians and nutritionists)
On-the-Job Training Internships providing 1,200 hours of experience are common
Similar Occupations Registered nurse, rehabilitation counselor, health educator, community health worker

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Skills Required

Your job will require you to have excellent communication skills and test your ability to work in a team. You'll need to be a thoughtful listener who can answer patient questions or address concerns. You might occasionally encounter parents who are defensive about their child's nutrition or other emotionally distressing situations; maintaining a calm attitude will help you provide sensitive, clear instructions.

Educational Requirements

You'll need to complete at least a bachelor's degree in nutrition or dietetics in order to work as a pediatric dietitian. You can expect to complete your undergraduate education in four to five years, depending on whether the degree program in which you are enrolled includes an internship option. In addition to general coursework requirements in the humanities or liberal arts, you may study the following topics:

  • Human metabolism of nutrients
  • Food science
  • Human physiology
  • Biochemistry
  • Nutrition and health

Certification

Though certification is not a requirement to work as a pediatric dietitian, you might choose to seek certification from the Commission on Dietetic Registration, the credentialing agency for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics . You can take an exam for certification as a Registered Dietitian (RD) once you finish a bachelor's degree from an accredited program and complete an internship (www.cdrnet.org). Once you've been credentialed as an RD for two years and you've completed 2,000 hours of practice in pediatric dietetics, you can be Board Certified as a Specialist in Pediatric Nutrition.

Licensing

In many states, licensing or certification is mandatory. Typically, the requirements for licensing or certification are similar to those required to become an RD. The use of certain titles may be limited in some states if you have not passed proper certification.

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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