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Become A Dietitian

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Working As A Dietitian

  • Getting Information
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Performing for or Working Directly with the Public
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • Deal with People

  • Mostly Sitting

  • Make Decisions

  • $81,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Dietitian Do

Dietitians and nutritionists are experts in the use of food and nutrition to promote health and manage disease. They advise people on what to eat in order to lead a healthy lifestyle or achieve a specific health-related goal.

Duties

Dietitians and nutritionists typically do the following:

  • Assess patients’ and clients’ nutritional and health needs
  • Counsel patients on nutrition issues and healthy eating habits
  • Develop meal plans, taking both cost and clients’ preferences into account
  • Evaluate the effects of meal plans and change the plans as needed
  • Promote better health by speaking to groups about diet, nutrition, and the relationship between good eating habits and preventing or managing specific diseases
  • Keep up with or contribute to the latest food and nutritional science research
  • Write reports to document patients’ progress

Dietitians and nutritionists evaluate the health of their clients. Based on their findings, dietitians and nutritionists advise clients on which foods to eat—and which to avoid—to improve their health.

Many dietitians and nutritionists provide customized information for specific individuals. For example, a dietitian or nutritionist might teach a client with diabetes how to plan meals to balance the client’s blood sugar. Others work with groups of people who have similar needs. For example, a dietitian or nutritionist might plan a diet with healthy fat and limited sugar to help clients who are at risk for heart disease. They may work with other healthcare professionals to coordinate patient care.

Dietitians and nutritionists who are self-employed may meet with patients, or they may work as consultants for a variety of organizations. They may need to spend time on marketing and other business-related tasks, such as scheduling appointments, keeping records, and preparing educational programs or informational materials for clients.

Although many dietitians and nutritionists do similar tasks, there are several specialties within the occupations. The following are examples of types of dietitians and nutritionists:

Clinical dietitians and clinical nutritionists provide medical nutrition therapy. They work in hospitals, long-term care facilities, clinics, private practice, and other institutions. They create nutritional programs based on the health needs of patients or residents and counsel patients on how to improve their health through nutrition. Clinical dietitians and clinical nutritionists may further specialize, such as by working only with patients with kidney diseases or those with diabetes.

Community dietitians and community nutritionists develop programs and counsel the public on topics related to food, health, and nutrition. They often work with specific groups of people, such as adolescents or the elderly. They work in public health clinics, government and nonprofit agencies, health maintenance organizations (HMOs), and other settings.

Management dietitians plan food programs. They work in food service settings such as cafeterias, hospitals, prisons, and schools. They may be responsible for buying food and for carrying out other business-related tasks, such as budgeting. Management dietitians may oversee kitchen staff or other dietitians.

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How To Become A Dietitian

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.

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Dietitian Career Paths

Dietitian
Consultant Supervisor Case Manager
Registered Nurse Case Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Consultant Manager General Manager
Food Service Director
9 Yearsyrs
Consultant Case Manager Registered Nurse Case Manager
Registered Nurse Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Health Coach Case Manager Director
Medical Director
9 Yearsyrs
Health Coach Owner Assistant Director
Director Of Food And Nutrition Services
9 Yearsyrs
Health Coach Owner Owner/Manager
Food Service Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Adjunct Professor Clinical Supervisor Nursing Director
Wellness Director
7 Yearsyrs
Adjunct Professor Faculty Nurse Practitioner
Registered Nurse Supervisor
7 Yearsyrs
Adjunct Professor Nurse Practitioner Registered Nurse Supervisor
Nurse Case Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Health Educator Social Worker Service Supervisor
Patient Services Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Diabetes Educator Clinical Manager Food Service Director
Nutrition Director
7 Yearsyrs
Adjunct Instructor Owner/Operator Food Service Manager
Dietary Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Adjunct Instructor Owner/Manager Food Service Manager
Assistant Food Service Director
5 Yearsyrs
Adjunct Instructor Training Manager Kitchen Manager
Cafeteria Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Food Service Supervisor Food Service Manager Dietary Manager
Certified Dietary Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Food Service Supervisor Dietary Manager
Nutrition Services Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Adjunct Faculty Registered Nurse Supervisor Registered Nurse Case Manager
Health Care Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Health Educator Exercise Physiologist Fitness Manager
Wellness Manager
7 Yearsyrs
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Dietitian Demographics

Gender

Female

77.0%

Unknown

12.1%

Male

10.8%
Ethnicity

White

61.3%

Hispanic or Latino

14.2%

Black or African American

11.1%

Asian

9.6%

Unknown

3.8%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

59.2%

French

9.0%

Hindi

4.3%

Russian

3.3%

Mandarin

2.8%

Cantonese

2.4%

Chinese

2.4%

Arabic

2.4%

Gujarati

1.9%

Italian

1.4%

Portuguese

1.4%

German

1.4%

Hebrew

1.4%

Swahili

0.9%

Vietnamese

0.9%

Marathi

0.9%

Ukrainian

0.9%

Malay

0.9%

Greek

0.9%

Japanese

0.9%
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Dietitian Education

Schools

New York University

11.6%

Texas Woman's University

7.1%

University of Alabama

6.4%

Florida International University

6.1%

Ohio State University

5.9%

Eastern Michigan University

5.5%

Iowa State University

5.2%

Michigan State University

4.9%

Kansas State University

4.6%

Framingham State University

4.6%

Indiana University of Pennsylvania

4.5%

University of Delaware

4.3%

Hunter College of the City University of New York

4.2%

Georgia State University

4.0%

Marywood University

3.7%

University of Akron

3.6%

California State University - Los Angeles

3.6%

Central Michigan University

3.6%

Pennsylvania State University

3.4%

University of Connecticut

3.4%
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Majors

Dietetics

39.7%

Food And Nutrition

27.8%

Nutrition Science

7.9%

Business

3.7%

Public Health

3.0%

Food Science

2.2%

Nursing

1.8%

Health Care Administration

1.7%

Family And Consumer Sciences

1.6%

Kinesiology

1.2%

Management

1.2%

Education

1.2%

Health Education

1.1%

Public Health Education

1.0%

General Education, Specific Areas

1.0%

Clinical Psychology

1.0%

Health Sciences And Services

0.8%

Hospitality Management

0.7%

Exercise Physiology

0.7%

Health And Wellness

0.7%
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Degrees

Masters

41.5%

Bachelors

35.8%

Other

14.6%

Certificate

3.1%

Associate

2.6%

Doctorate

1.5%

Diploma

0.7%

License

0.2%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$81,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$38,000
Min 10%
$81,000
Median 50%
$81,000
Median 50%
$81,000
Median 50%
$81,000
Median 50%
$81,000
Median 50%
$81,000
Median 50%
$81,000
Median 50%
$170,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Aurora Medical Group
Highest Paying City
Aurora, CO
Highest Paying State
North Dakota
Avg Experience Level
3.4 years
How much does a Dietitian make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Dietitian in the United States is $81,241 per year or $39 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $38,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $170,000.

Real Dietitian Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Senior Sports Dietitian United States Olympic Committee Chula Vista, CA Apr 01, 2015 $95,040
Senior Sports Dietitian United States Olympic Committee Chula Vista, CA Aug 05, 2013 $90,000
Dietitian The Center for Advanced Pediatrics, P.C Norwalk, CT Jan 03, 2016 $83,480
Sports Dietitian United States Olympic Committee Colorado Springs, CO Sep 03, 2014 $76,000
Dietitians and Nutritionists Nh Nutraceutical, Inc. Irvine, CA Feb 21, 2014 $74,464
Regional Dietitian Avalon Health Care Management, Inc. Salt Lake City, UT Oct 01, 2011 $71,758
Dietitian Nutrition Therapy Essentials San Jose, CA Sep 01, 2014 $70,958
Dietitian Nightshade Holdings, LLC Ukiah, CA Sep 02, 2015 $68,871
Dietitian Windflower Holdings, LLC Lakeport, CA Sep 02, 2015 $68,871
Dietitians and Nutritionists Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center New York, NY Nov 06, 2012 $68,529
Dietitians and Nutritionists Sherman Oaks Hospital CA Aug 05, 2014 $66,851
Dietitians and Nutritionists Compass Group USA, Inc. Claremont, CA Sep 10, 2014 $66,560
Dietitian Concourse Rehabilitation & Nursing Center New York, NY Jul 15, 2013 $66,346
Dietitians and Nutritionists Country Villa Service Corp Los Angeles, CA Aug 29, 2012 $66,165
Dietitian Compass Group USA Inc. Washington, DC Apr 07, 2014 $58,000
Dietitians and Nutritionists Healthcare Services Group, Inc. New York, NY Aug 22, 2012 $57,886
Dietitian Asante Medford, OR Oct 02, 2013 $57,580
Dietitians and Nutritionists Airport Terminal Management, Inc. Inglewood, CA Sep 09, 2014 $57,574
Dietitians and Nutritionists Healthcare Services Group, Inc. Linwood, NJ Mar 07, 2014 $57,554
Dietitian Housing Works Inc. New York, NY Oct 01, 2011 $57,000
Dietitian Secaucus Healthcare Center LLC Secaucus, NJ Sep 20, 2011 $57,000
Dietitian Secaucus Healthcare Cneter LLC Secaucus, NJ Sep 20, 2011 $57,000
Licensed Dietitian General Conference of Seventh Day Adventists Jan 01, 2016 $49,248
Dietitians and Nutritionists Wake Forest University Health Sciences Winston-Salem, NC Sep 26, 2014 $49,150 -
$54,246
Dietitians and Nutritionists Mary's Center for Maternal and Child Care Washington, DC Mar 03, 2014 $49,000 -
$55,000
Dietitian F7M Radiology Medical Center Inc. CA Sep 25, 2014 $48,731
Dietitian Florida Hospital Orlando, FL Jun 06, 2011 $48,648
Dietitian and Nutritionist Alliance of Herguan Universe Sunnyvale, CA Sep 01, 2015 $48,648
Dietitian Healthcare Services Group Inc. Edison, NJ Nov 15, 2011 $48,500
Dietitian Healthcare Services Group, Inc. Westerville, OH Nov 16, 2014 $48,500

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Top Skills for A Dietitian

  1. Weight Loss
  2. Comprehensive Nutrition Assessments
  3. Disease Process
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Create comprehensive dietary plans including individualized menu patterns and recipes to facilitate weight loss and create healthy lifelong eating habits.
  • Mentor dietetic interns; Therapeutic medical nutrition therapy sessions; Perform comprehensive nutrition assessments; Dynamic nutritional bulletin board displays
  • Increased patient knowledge of renal diet and disease process of end-stage renal disease, as well as diabetes.
  • Completed nutritional assessments, documented nutritional intervention and resident progress in medical charts while implementing nutrition care plans.
  • Provided nutrition education and diabetes management to ethnically diverse population to home bound patients.

What is it like to work as a Dietitian

4.0

Dietitian for 15 years

June 5, 2019 on Zippia

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Dietitian.. Show More

What do you like the most about working as Dietitian?

I love the daytime work hours and having the weekends off most of the time. I love it when a client is interested in diet and ready to learn... Show More

What do you NOT like?

Some areas of nutrition-especially outpatient-require a certain amount of persuasive ability. It can be hard to work with the public all the time. And some dietitians, mostly clinical and hospital food service have to work some holidays... Show More

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Top 10 Best States for Dietitians

  1. Alaska
  2. Nevada
  3. California
  4. Rhode Island
  5. Delaware
  6. New York
  7. Maryland
  8. New Jersey
  9. Hawaii
  10. Connecticut
  • (7 jobs)
  • (20 jobs)
  • (344 jobs)
  • (7 jobs)
  • (9 jobs)
  • (140 jobs)
  • (72 jobs)
  • (70 jobs)
  • (16 jobs)
  • (22 jobs)

Top Dietitian Employers

Jobs From Top Dietitian Employers

Dietitian Videos

Clinical Dietitian, Career Video from drkit.org

How to become a Dietitian

What it takes to be a Dietitian | Dietitan Talk

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