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What Education Do I Need for a Career in Dietary Counseling?

Dietary counseling is an important aspect of disease management and prevention. Weight management is another area in which dietary counseling can be used. Continue reading to find out what education you need for a career in dietary counseling.

Career Overview

Many colleges and universities offer accredited programs in nutrition, dietetics, or food service management that can lead to a career in dietetic counseling. At least an associate's degree in one of these areas is needed to begin a career in dietary counseling. Those seeking to conduct dietary counseling as registered dieticians must obtain a bachelor's degree.

Important Facts About This Field of Study

Common Courses Nutrition, biology, chemistry, psychology
Concentrations Examples include nutritional science, foodsystems, food & nutrition management, nutrition communication
Online Availability Didactic courses available online
Continuing Education CE courses needed to maintain RDN credential requirements
Median Salary (2018) $60,370 (for all dietitians and nutritionists)*
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 15% growth (for all dietitians and nutritionists)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education

Associate's Degree

An associate's degree in dietetics or nutrition can prepare students to work as a dietetic technician. Those who've completed an approved program may pursue recognition as a dietetic technician, registered (DTR), according to the American Dietetic Association (ADA, www.eatrightacend.org). A DTR might provide dietary counseling for patients with chronic diseases or cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. Weight management is another area in which a DTR can provide dietary counseling. A DTR works closely under the supervision of registered dieticians. They might find entry-level positions in schools, weight loss clinics, community health centers, or corporate wellness programs.

Bachelor's Degree

Those with a bachelor's degree in nutrition, dietetics, or food management can become registered dieticians (RDN). Coursework in a bachelor's degree program will likely include health counseling and medical nutrition therapy. A registered dietician also conducts dietary counseling but is qualified to offer services a DTR cannot.

A bachelor's degree and registration qualifies these dieticians to design, evaluate, and implement nutritional care programs. These credentials are also necessary for those who wish to move into dietary counseling management positions. Dietary counseling teams in some hospitals and clinics include only registered dieticians.