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Most dietitians and nutritionists have a bachelor’s degree and have completed supervised training through an internship. Many states require dietitians and nutritionists to be licensed.Education
Most dietitians and nutritionists have a bachelor’s degree in dietetics, foods and nutrition, clinical nutrition, public health nutrition, or a related area. Dietitians also may study food service systems management. Programs include courses in nutrition, psychology, chemistry, and biology.
Many dietitians and nutritionists have advanced degrees.Training
Dietitians and nutritionists typically receive several hundred hours of supervised training, usually in the form of an internship following graduation from college. Some dietetics schools offer coordinated programs in dietetics that allow students to complete supervised training as part of their undergraduate or graduate-level coursework.Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Most states require dietitians and nutritionists to be licensed in order to practice. Other states require only state registration or certification to use certain titles, and a few states have no regulations for this occupation.
The requirements for state licensure and state certification vary by state, but most include having a bachelor’s degree in food and nutrition or a related area, completing supervised practice, and passing an exam.
Many dietitians choose to earn the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) credential. Although the RDN is not always required, the qualifications are often the same as those necessary for becoming a licensed dietitian in states that require a license. Many employers prefer or require the RDN, which is administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration, the credentialing agency for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
The RDN requires dietitian nutritionists to complete a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and a Dietetic Internship (DI), which consists of at least 1,200 hours of supervised experience. Students may complete both criteria at once through a coordinated program, or they may finish their required coursework before applying for an internship. These programs are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND), part of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. In order to maintain the RDN credential, dietitians and nutritionists who have earned it must complete 75 continuing professional education credits every 5 years.
Nutritionists may earn the Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS) credential to show an advanced level of knowledge. The CNS credential is accepted in several states for licensure purposes. To qualify for the credential, applicants must have a master’s or doctoral degree, complete 1,000 hours of experience, and pass an exam. The credential is administered by the Board for Certification of Nutrition Specialists.
Dietitians and nutritionists may seek additional certifications in an area of specialty. The Commission on Dietetic Registration offers specialty certifications in oncology nutrition, renal nutrition, gerontological nutrition, pediatric nutrition, and sports dietetics.Important Qualities
Analytical skills. Dietitians and nutritionists must keep up to date with the latest food and nutrition research. They should be able to interpret scientific studies and translate nutrition science into practical eating advice.
Compassion. Dietitians and nutritionists must be caring and empathetic when helping clients address health and dietary issues and any related emotions.
Listening skills. Dietitians and nutritionists must listen carefully to understand clients’ goals and concerns. They may work with other healthcare workers as part of a team to improve the health of a patient, and they need to listen to team members when constructing eating plans.
Organizational skills. Because there are many aspects to the work of dietitians and nutritionists, they should be able to stay organized. Management dietitians, for example, must consider the nutritional needs of their clients, the costs of meals, and access to food.
Problem-solving skills. Dietitians and nutritionists must evaluate the health status of patients and determine the most appropriate food choices for a client to improve his or her overall health or manage a disease.
Speaking skills. Dietitians and nutritionists must explain complicated topics in a way that people with less technical knowledge can understand. They must be able to clearly explain eating plans to clients and to other healthcare professionals involved in a patient’s care.
Average Length of Employment
Top Careers Before Clinical Dietitian
Top Careers After Clinical Dietitian
Hispanic or Latino8.7%
Black or African American0.8%
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New York University8.1%
Iowa State University6.6%
University of Alabama6.4%
Texas Woman's University6.2%
Florida International University6.1%
University of Delaware5.7%
Michigan State University5.4%
Eastern Michigan University4.9%
Case Western Reserve University4.9%
Indiana University of Pennsylvania4.9%
University of Central Oklahoma4.7%
Ohio State University4.2%
Pennsylvania State University4.2%
California State University - Los Angeles4.2%
Central Michigan University4.2%
University of Kentucky4.0%
Kansas State University3.9%
University of Illinois at Chicago3.9%
University of Memphis3.7%
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|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Supervisor-Clinical Dietitian||Sutter Health East Bay Region||Antioch, CA||Oct 01, 2013||$81,473|
|Clinical Dietitian||CHW-Mercy Hospitals of Bakersfield||Bakersfield, CA||Oct 31, 2011||$76,071|
|Chief Clinical Dietitian||CHW-Mercy Hospitals of Bakersfield||Bakersfield, CA||Oct 31, 2011||$76,071|
|Clinical Dietitian||Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center||Pomona, CA||Sep 01, 2011||$75,000|
|Clinical Dietitian Nutritionist||Compass Nutrition LLC||New York, NY||Dec 30, 2016||$74,880|
|Clinical Dietitian||Sutter Delta Medical Center||Antioch, CA||Oct 01, 2010||$73,421|
|Clinical Dietitian||Michael Tenenbaum||Malverne, NY||Dec 15, 2009||$73,045|
|Clinical Dietitian||Compass Nutrition LLC||New York, NY||Dec 30, 2013||$73,045|
|Clinical Dietitian||Sutter Delta Medical Center||Antioch, CA||Sep 20, 2010||$69,247|
|Clinical Dietitian||Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center||New York, NY||Jul 01, 2012||$68,529|
|Clinical Dietitian||Children's Hospital of Orange County||Orange, CA||Jul 16, 2010||$68,162|
|Clinical Dietitian||Montebello Artificial Kidney Center, LLC||Montebello, CA||Sep 23, 2016||$56,015|
|Clinical Dietitian (RD)||Desert Valley Hospital, Inc.||Victorville, CA||Jul 18, 2016||$55,515|
|Clinical Dietitian||Desert Valley Hospital||Victorville, CA||Nov 10, 2014||$55,515|
|Clinical Dietitian||Catholic Healthcare West||Bakersfield, CA||Feb 18, 2010||$55,431 -
|Clinical Dietitian||Sodexo, Inc.||Palmdale, CA||Jul 05, 2013||$55,105|
|Clinical Dietitian||Sodexo, Inc.||Aiea, HI||Sep 21, 2009||$55,000|
|Clinical Dietitian (RD)||Prime Healthcare Services-San Dimas, LLC||San Dimas, CA||Aug 27, 2014||$54,930|
|Clinical Dietitian||Barton Memorial Hospital||South Lake Tahoe, CA||Jul 01, 2010||$54,846|
|Clinical Dietitian||Napa State Hospital||Napa, CA||Sep 01, 2009||$47,916|
|Clinical Dietitian||Mecosta County Medical Center||Big Rapids, MI||Jun 27, 2016||$47,840|
|Clinical Dietitian||Compass Group USA Inc.||Miami, FL||May 01, 2010||$47,235|
|Clinical Dietitian||Medical Center Hospital||Odessa, TX||Aug 29, 2011||$47,041 -
|Clinical Dietitian I||Aramark Food and Support Services Group, Inc.||Albany, GA||Sep 23, 2015||$47,000|
|Clinical Dietitian||Healthcare Services Group Inc.||New York, NY||Oct 24, 2011||$47,000|
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