How to Become a Dietician
A dietician provides education and advice on nutrition and health. When you become a dietician, you will find yourself completing a wide range of duties, from assessing client's lifestyle, to making nutritional plans, to compiling research and educational materials.
If you are interested in health, find food and nutrition intriguing, and want a job where you interact with people, then you will enjoy working as a dietician.
Education Requirements to Become a Dietician
It's never too early to start working towards becoming a dietician. If you are in high school, you should take subjects like English, Biology, Health, Chemistry, as well as Home Economics. Your school may not offer all of these subjects, so consider taking some short courses on your school holidays if you can. Learn how to cook, and learn about the different food groups, nutrients, calories, and how they affect our health.
You will need some education after high school. The minimum educational requirement is to complete a four year Bachelor's degree in health or science, with a major in nutrition. This pathway will provide you with a much broader knowledge base and also open up more opportunities in education and research later on.
Once you have completed your education, you will need to become registered in your state to practice. The requirements vary from state to state, in some places it is as simple as filling out a form, in others you may need to sit an exam.
Dietician Job Description
Most dietitians work one on one with clients. they will assess a client's current eating patterns and lifestyle. Often a person will see a nutritionist because they have a specific problem. For instance, they might have an allergy, be suffering from diabetes, or be an athlete training for an event. The dietician will look at the client's needs, and develop an eating plan. They will also provide education and advice to the client.
Some dietitians work in specific areas, for instance, childhood nutrition, or weight loss. Some are employed by hospitals, to communicate with patients and make sure they are getting their dietary requirements.
Dietician Salary and Career Path
Most nutritionists and dietitians are employed in clinics with other health care professionals, in hospitals, schools, nursing homes, or outpatient clinics. Most dietitians will start their career as an employee, for a private clinic, or perhaps for a bigger employer, such as a hospital or a government department. As your career progresses there will be opportunity for advancement, as well as the option to work in different areas of dietetics. Some move on to work as self-employed consultants. One of the benefits of a career as a dietician, is that there are many different paths your career might take, depending on your strengths and interests.
As a dietician, you will find that your career path could take many turns. Here are some of the roles you could find yourself in when you become a dietician.
Client Consultation - Meeting with people one on one to discuss their dietary needs and help them with planning.
Sports Nutrition - Many dietitians work with professional athletes to make sure they are getting the right nutrition so they can perform at their best
Education - Many dietitians work to help educate others about food. This could include working on government campaigns, visiting schools, or writing educational materials.
Research - Some dietitians move into research, where they will collect and analyze date on food, nutrition and health.
A starting salary for a nutritionist would be around $35,000 a year. those with 1-4 years of experience could expect to earn closer to the median salary for dietitians, which is $52,000. The highest paid 10% of dietitians earn in excess of $70,000 a year.
If you're interested in health promotion, along with working with people and communities, then you might like to become a dietician. Employment prospects and job growth are predicted to be on par with other industries. Some study is required, however job security and salary are both strong. There are many varied opportunities for work available, and many options for those who are looking for career progression further down the road.
*Salary Information provided by the Bureau Of Labor Statistics