Child Nutrition Degrees and Training Programs
The terms are often interchanged, but important differences exist between a dietitian, who earns both a college degree and registered dietitian credentials, and a nutritionist who can practice without a governed degree. Programs targeting child nutrition specifically are not common; to study for this specialization, individuals will need to pursue post-baccalaureate training within a graduate degree such as a Master of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics with a pediatric nutrition concentration.
Master of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics, Pediatric Nutrition
At the master's level, programs are flexible, allowing candidates to tailor their studies to meet personal career goals. Training focused on child nutrition could be a graduate certificate or concentration within the larger master's in nutrition. Students may choose the pediatric specialization in order to focus on pre-term or full-term infants, healthy children or children who have diseases related to nutrition. Along with coursework, students will participate in internships and clinical experiences, The master's degree may be structured to require a thesis or might allow for additional coursework to take the place of a thesis.
Applicants to graduate-level training in nutrition will generally need to have a bachelor's degree from an accredited nutrition program. Specific thresholds for grade point averages and Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores may also apply.
Students take departmental core classes and a science core on advanced nutrition, which may offer biological chemistry, nutrigenomics and phytonutrients. Other core courses include diet therapy, research and statistics. Candidates may be required to do additional research or culminate studies with a comprehensive written examination, followed by an oral defense. Thesis or not, pediatric nutrition students will learn about:
- Specialized nutritional needs of healthy infants through adolescents
- Pre-term and full term infant nutrition
- Nutrition for high-risk infants
- Medical nutrition therapy
- Leadership in the profession
- Individual study in pediatric nutrition
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for dietitians and nutritionists should increase 20% from 2010-2020, which is above average compared to other career fields. The average salary for these professionals was $56,170 as of May 2012, reports the BLS.
Demand for dietetics and nutritional counseling, treatment and service continue to grow in public as well as private delivery systems. Dietitians and nutritionists work in such settings as industry and business, hospitals and clinics, government agencies, colleges and universities, international health organizations and agencies and research firms.
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