How to Become a Dietician

To become a dietician, you need to have a keen interest in nutritional health and how to fight illness and weight gain with a proper diet and nutrition. As science uncovers more and more health benefits available in fresh food, dieticians and their specific knowledge and skill-set become more important to our everyday lives.

Facts about Dieticians

  • Dietitians manage food services for institutions like schools, hospitals, retirement facilities and health spas.
  • Dieticians specifically fight illness and promote good health with dietary change recommendations and meal-plan suggestions. 
  • Dieticians typically work 9 to 5 hours in excellent working conditions but occasionally work limited weekend hours.
  • Dieticians are popular with celebrities and athletes who rely on their expertise to keep them at the peak of their physical health.

Education/Training Needed to become a Dietician

Although masters programs in nutrition are available, most working dieticians need only a bachelor's degree in a food service related course study like:

  • foods and nutrition,
  • dietetics and
  • Food service systems management.

Jobs for Dieticians

As a dietitian, you can seek employment in a variety of areas including:

  • Consultant dieticians - work under contract with health facilities, companies, spas and institutions. They perform screenings and make recommendations on specific health issues like cholesterol, blood pressure or weight loss.
  • Management dieticians - oversee meal planning and preparation for large institutions like schools, prisons, company cafeterias and healthcare facilities. Their responsibilities include everything from hiring and firing employees, budgeting, scheduling, sanitary issues and food preparation. 
  • Community dieticians - work in public health clinics or with home health care organizations to give nutritional information that helps prevent disease and promotes health. Many work directly with people and their families to devise meal plans, shopping lists and food preparation methods for healthy meals.
  • Clinical dieticians - typically work in healthcare institutions. They assess patients dietary needs, use those assessments to develop a patient-specific dietary plan and then monitor and report on the results of their plan.
  • Institutional dieticians - work for community and healthcare institutions alike. They concentrate on everything from health issues that can be addressed with nutrition, to meal planning and preparation for employees and members. They focus on promoting sound eating habits, educating on dietary dos and don'ts and conducting dietary research.

Typical Salaries of Dieticians

Nutritionists and dietitians typically earn about $45,000 with the higher wages being found in positions with out-patient care centers. Starting salaries typically begin around $35,000 but experience and continuing education classes can push that up near $70,000. Individuals with registration, certification or specialties will earn the highest salaries.

The Future of Careers as a Dietician

The future of jobs for dieticians and nutritionists is projected to continue to rise steadily. As the significance of food science continues to increase, job opportunities will continue to emerge for those educated in this specialty. Areas like diabetic nutrition continue to become more important as our country's elderly population continues to increase and incidents of high blood sugar and diabetes rise.