Dietitians are responsible for building special diets for patients and helping individuals maintain proper nutrition. Over the years, this career has become more popular, mostly due to the attractive dietitian salary. A dietitian can specialize in different fields including; administrative, clinical, and consultation. Dietitian services are often needed by various organizations such as; prisons, schools, hospitals, and food-related companies. Becoming a dietitian requires that you have a love for food and that you are caring and compassionate. Having these qualities will help you have good communication with co-workers and patients so that you can thrive in this career.
Nutritionist vs. Dietitian
Many people think that a nutritionist is the same as a dietitian. This is not true. So what is the difference? A dietitian specializes in developing distinctive diets for people, promoting good eating habits, and taking part in nutrition-related research. Dietitians are required to complete certain educational requirements in order to become a RD (registered dietitian) or DTR (dietic technician registered). They are also regulated by the ADA (American Dietetic Association).
Nutritionists focus on nutrition as a means of maintaining overall health. That includes using nutrition for treating specific diseases and preventing various health issues. Unlike dietitians, nutritionists are not required to have any special education/training and are not regulated by any association.
While some nutritionists do take the time to complete certain education and training regimens, it is not necessary. In fact, anyone can refer to themselves as a “nutritionist” and give nutritional advice without having to prove their qualifications. Another big difference between the two careers is that a dietitian salary is often times higher than a nutritionist. This is primarily because a dietitian has undergone special educational requirements.
Dietitian Job Duties
A dietitian’s job duties strictly depend on the job field. Some dietitian job tasks include;
- Evaluating patients and determining their nutritional needs.
- Planning and carrying out projects related to nutrition and diet.
- Teaching individuals and patients about healthy nutrition.
- Inspecting prepared meals to assure that nutritional standards are met.
- Supervising workers that prepare food.
- Teaching courses about nutrition and diet.
Education and Training Requirements
Becoming a dietitian requires that you obtain a Bachelor’s degree in a nutrition-related area of study. Examples of these include; human nutrition, dietetics, and food administration. Most students prefer to complete a Bachelor’s degree program on-campus, but this is not required. Luckily, for those that have busy lifestyles, there is the option of getting a Bachelor’s degree online. Although technically these courses are “online” part of the training will have to take place in a hands-on setting. This allows teachers to supervise your work and it also gives you real life experience so that you’re better prepared for the future.
After obtaining a Bachelor’s degree, the next step is to engage in a one year practicing program. During this time, you’ll be trained in an accredited facility or food administration. The last step to becoming a dietitian is to pass the national Commission on Dietetic Registration exam. Passing the exam means that you’ll earn the Registered Dietitian title and be able to start your working career.
Currently, the average dietitian salary is about $53,000 annually. The lower percentage earned approximately $44,000 a year, and the highest percentages of people receive about $63,000 per year. Dietitians can earn anywhere from $15.00/hr. to $35.00/hr. Although the majority of states in the U.S. require that dietitians are registered, some do not. Having experience and being registered are two things that directly affect how much a dietitian earns. Geographic region is another factor that determines the dietitian salary. Maryland, Nevada, California, Hawaii, and Connecticut are the top five highest paying states in the U.S.
Job Growth Potential
According to the United States Department of Labor, there is a 9% increase in dietitian jobs expected by the year 2018. This was calculated by considering the growing amount of people that are interested in learning healthier nutrition as well as using nutrition as a means of preventing diseases. Another factor that has contributed to the demand for dietitians is insurance acceptance. As the time passes, more insurance companies are making medical nutrition therapy an exception to help patients battle diabetes, renal failure, and more. As far as the dietitian salary goes, it is expected to increase in a few years.
Pursuing a career as a dietitian is great for those that enjoy eating and making healthy food. Once you’ve become a dietitian, you’ll be able to share your knowledge by helping others learn about healthy eating and dieting.
Dietitian Overview Video
Check out this little video from eHow that talks about what you can do to become a dietitian.