How To Become A Dietitian
Dietitians are experts in diet, and the use of diet to promote health and wellness. They advise other people on how to keep a healthy diet in order to lead the best possible lifestyle. In order to become a dietitian, you need a bachelor’s degree and to be licensed in the state in which you work.
Why Become A Dietitian
Dietitians have a variety of responsibilities. They meet with new patients to talk to them and assess their current nutritional and health needs. They talk about their medical conditions and what their goals are for their dietary plan. They work with patients to develop nutrition plans. Dietitians educate people on healthy eating habits, and meet with patients on a regular basis to monitor their progress with their meal plan. They also often do community health work. They may go into the community to teach specific populations of people, such as children, or senior groups, about healthy eating.
This is a good career for somebody who is passionate about health and wellness, is interested in nutrition and maintaining a healthy diet, and is good at teaching and sharing knowledge with others.
Dietitians must possess the following qualities and skills:
- Good Communicator
- Organizational Skills
- Problem Solver
- Teaching Skills
Dietitian Work Environment
Dietitians work in a variety of environments. Most work in hospitals, although some also work in nursing homes, residential communities, and outpatient care centers. Dietitians work directly with patients. They see many patients each day. They work with patients, talking to them about their individual treatment goals. They assess each patient’s individual needs. They work to develop plans, and talk to patients about how their treatment is coming along. This is a career that involves good communication skills, teaching skills, and working directly with others.
The median annual salary for dietitians was $60,000 in 2017, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. There are many factors that go into determining salary. For example, the industry where a person works can be a factor in determining salary. Dietitians who worked in outpatient care centers made an annual salary of $66,000 in 2017. On the other hand, those who worked at nursing homes and other types of residential facilities earned $57,000 on average. It is important to think about what type of facility you would like to work at when thinking about salary. Additionally, while many dietitians work full time, about 25 percent work part time. Full time dietitians have the ability to earn higher pay.
Average Dietitian Annual Salary
The average annual salary for dietitians is $60,150 a year. Salaries start at $36,910 a year and go up to $83,070 a year.
Average Dietitian Hourly Wage
The average hourly wage for a dietitian is $28.92. Hourly wages are between $17.74 and $39.94 an hour.
Stats were based out of 62,980 employed dietitians in the United States.
Highest Paying States For Dietitians
- 1. California $34.68 / hr $72,130 / yr
- 2. Alaska $32.84 / hr $68,310 / yr
- 3. Oregon $32.61 / hr $67,820 / yr
- 4. New Jersey $32.60 / hr $67,800 / yr
- 5. Connecticut $32.34 / hr $67,270 / yr
Top Paying Cities For Dietitians
- 1. Amarillo, TX $44.68 / hr$92,930 / yr
- 2. Modesto, CA $42.78 / hr$88,990 / yr
- 3. Vallejo, CA $40.69 / hr$84,640 / yr
- 4. Salinas, CA $38.84 / hr$80,780 / yr
- 5. Waco, TX $38.73 / hr$80,560 / yr
Data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Dietitian Career Outlook
Employment for dietitians is expected to increase by 15 percent from 2016 to 2026. This is a much faster rate of growth than other occupations in the United States. Overall this will result in 10,000 new jobs being created over this 10 year timeframe.
Diet has become an important concern for many people, as well as public health organizations. Today more than one-third of adults in the United States are obese. Diet plays a large role in obesity, and helping to prevent obesity. Obesity is seen as a public health concern because it is linked to many other health issues such as heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, and more. Dietitians are needed to help clients make the best diet choices for themselves.
The first step to becoming a dietitian is earning a bachelor’s degree. Dietitians typically have majors in programs such as nutrition, clinical nutrition, dietetics, public health, or a related program. During these programs students take courses in nutrition, psychology, chemistry, biology, and other courses. It takes four years to earn a bachelor’s degree.
Upon graduation, dietitians take on an internship. This often takes place at a hospital, a nursing home, residential care facility, or some other type of center. During the internship, dietitians receive supervised training under other dietitians. They spend several hundred hours learning about the field.
Some states requires dietitians to be licensed in order to practice. It is important to check your individual state requirements when pursuing this profession. Usually this includes passing an exam after completing your bachelor’s degree and internship training.
Having a credential is not required. However, many dietitians choose to earn a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) credential to help set them apart in their field. Many employers prefer hiring somebody with this credential.
Below we outline some of the courses you may take during a program as a dietitian. Keep in mind these are only a few examples of courses you may take.
Nutrition: In this course students gain an understanding of the role of nutrition in improving health. They learn to apply these ideas to develop a healthy eating pattern. They will understand how food choices and physical activity contribute to total well-being.
Medical Nutrition Therapy: In this course students will get an overview and introduction to the nutrition care process. They will learn how to do nutrition assessments, how to plan for specialized diets, and about the applications of medical nutrition therapy to selected disease states and conditions.
Food Service Systems Management: This is a good course for people working in hospitals or places that handle large quantities of food service. The course covers food procurement, preparation and distribution. Students learn to develop menus and recipes. They learn about proper sanitation and safety protocols, portion and quality control systems and more.
Dietitian Career Path
A dietitian is a great career path for people who are interested in proper nutrition and wellness, and want to share their love of nutrition with others. One way to advance in this field is by becoming a certified Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN). This helps a person be recognized in their field. Additionally, many places will only hire people who have been certified as Registered Dietitian Nutritionists.
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)
Overview A Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) is a food and nutrition expert in the field of dietetics
Responsibilities Registered Dietitian Nutritionists work in a wide variety of employment settings, including health care, business and industry, community and public health, education, research, government agencies and more
Education Required In order to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist a person must have all of the education requirements of a dietitian, that is, a bachelor’s degree, internship, and licensure, if required. They must also receive a credential from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and have continued education to maintain their credential as an RDN.
Benefits This is a good credential for somebody who wants to stand out in their field. Additionally, some employers may require this credential.
Dietitian Related Careers
A dietitian is a great career in the health and wellness field. If you are interested in this career, there may be other professions you are interested in as well. Below we have outlined some professions that are similar.
Registered Nurse: A registered nurse (RN) is the highest level of nursing staff. They provide patient care in hospitals and clinics.
Community Health Educators: Community health educators go into the local community and teach people about how they can promote wellness. They discuss health concerns with the community and implement strategies and specific tools to improve the health of individuals.
Rehabilitation Counselors: Rehabilitation counselors help people with physical, mental and developmental disabilities live independently, managing their daily living skills.