Dietitian and Nutrition Services

Dietitians and nutritionists work with patients to optimize health and wellness through dietary choices and maintenance. Read on to learn more about degree requirements, job growth and salaries for dietitians and nutritionists.

Are Dietitian and Nutrition Services for Me?

Career Overview

Nutritionists and dietitians plan programs, oversee meal preparation and supervise meal services to provide sound nutritional diets to their patients. Dietitians also analyze foods, prepare educational materials and report on issues like vitamin supplements, dietary fiber and nutritious recipes. Since diet and nutrition are significant contributors to healthy living, they help treat and prevent illnesses by encouraging sound eating habits and recommending modifications to the diet. Expanding public interest in nutrition could provide dietitians and nutritionists with opportunities in food manufacturing, marketing and advertising.

Employment and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of dietitians and nutritionists is expected to increase by 21% nationwide, or faster than average, between 2012 and 2022. Dietitians and nutritionists earned a mean annual wage of $56,300 in May 2013, as reported by the BLS. Certifications, specialized training and advanced degrees could enhance your job prospects (www.bls.gov).

How Can I Work in Dietitian and Nutrition Services?

Undergraduate Programs

You'll need at least a bachelor's degree to work in dietitian or nutrition services. If you major in foods and nutrition, dietetics or food service system management, you'll take courses in chemistry, biochemistry, microbiology and physiology. Participation in programs approved by the American Dietetic Association's Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education (CADE) will make it easier to obtain certification.

Alternatively, an undergraduate program in kinesiology with a nutrition science track typically includes courses in human anatomy and physiology, genetics and clinical nutrition. Core courses in chemistry, biology and mathematics are usually required.

Graduate Programs

A Master of Science in Dietetics program can provide you with the chance to conduct research in dietetics and nutrition. Courses may cover topics in ethics, physical assessments, management methods and obesity. Nutritional biochemistry, epidemiology, public policy and advanced nutrition therapy courses may also be included in the curriculum.

Licensing and Certification

Licensing and certification requirements for dietitians and nutritionists vary by state. There are also voluntary certifications available that can help with advancement. The Commission on Dietetic Registration of the American Dietetic Association offers the Registered Dietitian (RD) credential. To become an RD, you must have your bachelor's degree, pass an examination and complete a supervised internship. Maintaining your credential requires a minimum of 75 credit hours of continuing education courses every five years.

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