Nutritionist Job Description
Dietitians help people meet their health and wellness goals by teaching them how to use food to positively impact their lifestyle. For instance, they may help an athlete identify foods that will help them get the most out of training, or teach a diabetic person which foods will keep their blood sugar in check.
Most dietitians have similar job duties, but many choose to specialize with treating a particular type of patient or illness. Here are a few examples of common specializations.
Community dietitians often work with public health clinics and non-profit groups to educate people about proper eating and nutrition habits. Since many non-profits are focused on helping a specific group of people, these dietitians can become very specialized. For example, they could work with overweight people, those suffering from high blood pressure, or those who are pregnant.
Clinical dietitians work in hospitals, nursing homes, and other long-term care environments. They often collaborate with other healthcare professionals to identify the needs of each patient, and create nutritional programs tailored their specific needs.
Management dietitians are employed in food service settings. Hospitals and cafeterias often employ these types of dietitians. They are normally responsible for planning menus, buying food, and managing kitchen staff.
Work Environment and Schedule
Dietitians commonly work in nursing homes, schools, cafeterias, hospitals, health agencies, and physician’s offices. Many choose to be self-employed, where they work on a consulting basis to help their clients improve their dietary health.
Most dietitians are able to maintain a regular work schedule when compared to other healthcare professionals, but the schedule varies depending on the working environment. For instance, a dietitian who works in a hospital is much more likely to work irregular hours than one who works in a school cafeteria.
Schedules are often flexible as well. Though most available positions are full time, there are many part time openings as well.
How to Become a Dietitian
A minimum of a bachelor’s degree is required to become a dietitian. If you’re interested in pursuing a job in this occupation, it’s best to earn your degree in dietetics or a related field (such as nutrition). These degrees will teach the basics of biology, chemistry, nutrition, and physiology.
After earning their diploma, graduates either go on to graduate school, or participate in an internship that provides them with supervised training on the job.
In addition to the requirements mentioned above, most states also require a license to practice in this occupation. The licensing requirements vary from state to state, so you should check with your state’s licensing agency to learn the exact requirements.
In some states, becoming a Registered Dietitian (RN) is required. The RN license is administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration.
Even if your state doesn’t require the Registered Dietitian license, obtaining one can provide more career opportunities than you would have without it.
There are currently 64,400 nutritionists in the United States, with 3,540 new nutritionist job openings created each year.
Nutritionist jobs are not expected to see much growth beyond their current levels in the next decade.
Nutritionist salaries can vary depending on your experience, the location, company, industry, and benefits provided. Nationwide, most nutritionists make between $43,700 – $66,600 per year, or $21.00 – $32.00 per hour.