Dietitians (or “Dieticians”) are specialists in food and nutrition programs and meal preparation. They try to prevent or treat illnesses and improve lifestyles by promoting healthy eating habits. For example, a Dietician working with a client who was high blood sugar, might suggest some new meals for them that include less salt. Dieticians often work with Health Fitness Specialists and Personal Fitness Trainers, promoting a holistic approach to better health.
Dietitian Salary Information
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a median annual wage of approximately $50,000 for employed graduates of Dietician programs in 2008, with the lowest cohort of registered dietitians salaries averaging $31,000, and the highest averaging over $74,000. Once you’ve completed your Dietitian certification courses, or a registered Dietician degree program, you will be in a good position to be able to earn a great salary.
Training and Qualifications
Registered Dietitian programs must be completed in foods and nutrition, food services management, or a similar area, before serving as an officially licensed (and legal) Dietician. You may have heard of Nutritionists, and think that they are the same thing as Dietitians, but there is a world of difference between the two professions, namely that the latter requires absolutely no dietetic training courses, classes, or certification whatsoever.
Some Dietician career positions will also require additional dietetic education, often in the form of a Masters Degree. Since there is a wide variety in the forms of Dietician education and training courses available, it would be wise to consult with the American Dietetic Association to make sure that you are attending an accredited Dietitian college and completing all of the proper training and educational requirements necessary for becoming a Registered Dietician.
States have different requirements for receiving licensure as a Dietitian, with 35 requiring formal licensure, 12 requiring passing a Dietitian certification training program, and 1 requiring simple registration. Licensure requires passing a competency test to practice nutrition, but certification means that you can practice certain aspects or components of the industry without having passed any examination, and registration means that you may practice regardless of your educational background. It is best to check with your state board to find out the requirements that you will need to fulfill before entering into practice.
The Commission on Dietetic Registration of the American Dietetic Association also awards the highly coveted title of Registered Dietician to those individuals who finish their Dietician degrees by passing all relevant classes at an accredited Dietician College, as well as completing a supervised internship serving under a currently Registered Dietitian, and completing an additional examination. While becoming a Registered Dietician is not necessarily required for entering the industry, it will make finding a job, earning a higher salary, and starting one’s own practice much easier.
Currently, there are only a few Registered Dietician certification courses and Dietitian degree programs available that streamline the entire process for aspiring students.
Job Outlook for Dieticians
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 9 percent growth in the demand for Dietitians over the 2008-2018 decade, which is considered average for all occupations. Increasing public interest in healthy diets and sustainable eating, along with the demands of exceptionally health-conscious baby boomers are the three largest contributing factors pushing the growth of this industry.
Experienced Dieticians may advance to managerial positions. In addition, a Dietician may specialize in a specific field such as renal, diabetic, cardiovascular, or pediatric dietetics. Some Dietitian colleges are already offering degrees with specialization programs in these fields.
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