Food and nutrition are recognized as critical for overall health and wellness. Dietitians help individuals, groups and patients eat healthy and gain the nutrition they need through a proper diet. Registered dietitians are part of a national registry administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration. They can work in a variety of industries and some even specialize in one type of dietetics.
Education and Registration
To become registered, dietitians must obtain a bachelor’s degree from an educational program approved by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics and 1,200 hours of supervised practice in an internship or coordinated program. After completing the required education and supervised clinical training, dietitians must pass a national exam administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration. States that require dietitians to be licensed follow the same requirements. Although some states do not require registration or a license, employers prefer dietitians who are registered.
Registered dietitians promote healthy eating and nutrition. As experts in dietetics, they create individualized or group meal plans to ensure people and patients obtain the nutrition they need. Registered dietitians may work with specific groups of people such as overweight individuals, those with medical problems such as diabetes or high blood pressure, pregnant women or the elderly. They often educate the public about food selection and nutrition.
Registered dietitians work in a variety of health care facilities such as hospitals and nursing homes and physician’s offices, as well as food service establishments and government agencies. As of 2011, the largest employer of dietitians and nutritionists was hospitals, employing 32.6 percent of over 56,000 employed in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. About 15 percent reported being self-employed as consultants.
Careers and Salary
Approximately 20 percent growth is expected for dietitians and nutritionists between 2010 and 2020, according to the BLS. Growth is faster than the average for all occupations. Along with food and nutrition being recognized as a critical piece in treating a variety of medical conditions, awareness of how diet can play a role in preventative care will probably contribute to the growing need for registered dietitians. In 2011, the BLS estimated a mean annual salary of $55,460 for dietitians and nutritionists.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Dietitians and Nutritionists
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Dietitians and Nutritionists Occupational Employment and Wages
- Commission on Dietitic Registration: Registration Eligibility Requirements for Dietitians
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Didactic Programs in Dietetics
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