Registered Dietitian Career Information and Education Requirements
Registered dietitians evaluate the nutritional needs of individuals and groups to develop corresponding nutritional plans. Dietitians seeking registration must complete a degree program and internship, as well as pass the registration examination for dietitians.
Registered Dietitian Career Information
As food and nutrition experts, registered dietitians plan nutrition programs for clients or medical patients, promote healthy eating habits through education, plan menus for hospitals or schools, conduct nutrition research and provide nutritional counseling. Registered dietitians may also recommend dietary changes or nutritional programs to clients that address health issues, such as obesity, high blood pressure or heart disease.
Dietitians work in a variety of settings, including doctors' offices, government agencies, nursing homes, community health organizations, schools, home healthcare services, outpatient care centers and private practices. In clinical or community settings, dietitians perform management, consultant and research duties. Additional specialization areas include diabetes education, renal nutrition and pediatric nutrition.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there is expected to be a 20% increase in jobs for dietitians between 2010 and 2020 (www.bls.gov). Analysts believe this expected growth is the result of the rising interest in health and nutrition of the public, the aging population in particular. The BLS reported that as of May 2012, dietitians and nutritionists earned a mean annual salary of $56,170.
Registered Dietitian Education Requirements
Dietitians are typically required to have at least a bachelor's degree in nutrition or dietetics. Common courses include nutritional assessment, clinical nutrition, food systems management and nutrient metabolism. In addition to coursework, students may complete seminars, research, clinical experiences and internships.
While not necessary to practice as a dietitian, candidates may earn a Registered Dietitian (RD) credential through the American Dietetic Association's Commission on Dietetic Registration (www.cdrnet.org). Dietitians earn the credential upon completion of a bachelor's degree or academic coursework in dietetics, a supervised internship of at least 1,200 hours and the passage of the Registration Examination for Dietitians. RDs must complete a minimum of 75 hours of continuing education every five years to maintain certification.
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