Are you that friend who’s always recommending restaurants? Are you constantly writing reviews of the latest tasting menus or taco trucks in town? Are you also the kind of person who loves helping others become the best version of themselves? If you answered yes, you’d make a great dietitian.
Dietitians have the pleasure of talking about food all day (sounds like a dream job, right?), specifically in a way that empowers people to make better choices for their health. This article will explore what these healthcare professionals do and the work environments where they do it. Whether you like working from home or having a workplace community, we’ve got good news: Dietitians work in a wide range of environments, from home offices to hospitals.
What does a dietitian do?
Dietitians are college-educated, registered professionals trained to give nutritional advice and help treat patients who are dealing with the following conditions:
- Eating disorders
- Allergies and food intolerances
- Cardiovascular disease
- Kidney disease
Registered dietitians (RDs) can also help individuals reach health goals like:
- Losing, maintaining or gaining weight
- Changing their mindset around food
- Getting proper sports nutrition
- Maintaining a healthy pregnancy
- Implementing healthy eating habits in general
Dietitians must possess excellent problem-solving skills to create care plans to help patients reach goals, improve health conditions or completely rethink dietary choices. RDs must also be great teachers, providing nutrition education to their clients so they may understand how to implement care plans independently.
Dietitian vs. nutritionist definition
Since we’re discussing what dietitians do, let’s clarify an important distinction: Dietitians and nutritionists are not the same. Yes, their work is very similar and revolves around food choices, but dietitians must earn a college degree and pass an exam to become accredited, while nutritionists don’t need to hold a license.
Where do dietitians work?
As we mentioned earlier, dietitians work in health care facilities or elsewhere. If you like community and a fast-paced work environment, you may want to consider practicing in a hospital or public health center. If you like to work in your pajamas or loungewear, you can also work from your home office. (In all seriousness, whether you work from home or in a hospital, you can do so in our comfortable premium scrubs.).
Here are some of the top places dietitians work:
- Hospitals: Dietitians who work at hospitals educate patients as part of a large healthcare plan. They may also have a say in what kind of food the hospital serves in the cafeteria and to patients.
- Private offices: RDs can have private practices and work assisting individuals with their health and wellness goals or even advising companies in the food industry. Being self-employed, they can direct their work wherever their passion in nutrition science takes them.
- Public health centers: In these settings, dietitians serve as changemakers who tackle health issues that widely affect a specific community. Through education and monitoring, community dietitians help entire groups of people by educating and advocating for their nutritional needs.
- From home: Telehealth is big these days, and many healthcare professionals, from psychologists to dietitians, have gone virtual and work from the comfort of home.
- Food industries: If your plan B is to pursue consulting, this career path may be just for you. Dietitians can advise companies in food manufacturing on customer relations, marketing and even product development.
- Sports-related fields: Athletes seek to perform their very best, and sports dietetics is a field devoted to their success. Dietitians can work to help athletes reach their training goals through specialized meal plans.
- Educational institutions: Dietitians who work at schools and universities educate student body members on (you guessed it!) their bodies. They help students stay well and confront bigger issues affecting community health.
- Nutrition research facilities: Not cut out for working in care facilities? Why not spend your days in the lab instead? Dietitians play a key role in running nutrition experiments to improve our knowledge of food and how it affects our wellness.
What’s the career outlook for a dietitian?
As with most healthcare careers, the outlook for dietitians is good. In fact, it’s better than average. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, this role may grow by 11% by 2030.
Wondering about dietetics salary? We don’t blame you. We all need to make a living. Currently, in the United States, the average annual registered dietitian salary is approximately $65,000.
How can I become a dietitian?
- Get your degree
Earn your bachelor’s degree in clinical nutrition, dietetics, public health nutrition or nutrition from an accredited program.
- Complete a dietetic internship
To become an RD, you’ll have to apply what you learned in your coursework in 1,200 supervised internship hours. You can perform this hands-on work in a specialty like clinical nutrition, community nutrition, pediatric nutrition, or geriatric nutrition.
- Pass the CDR exam
This test will assess your knowledge of dietetics, group and individual care, food service, and nutrition programs.
- Get your state license
Not all states require licensure, but it’s best to read up on the requirements before requesting one. You may be able to get your license with educational credentials and a positive CDR exam result.
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