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There is an old saying that a person is what he or she eats. Nothing has a bigger impact on a person’s health and longevity than diet. A dietician is someone who promotes healthy dietary habits by creating and supervising nutritional programs. The primary goal of the dietician is to ensure the patient or client is eating the right diet for his or her health. A person becomes a dietitian by earning a dietician degree.
Degrees and Course Work
A bachelor’s dietician degree is the minimum requirement to be a professional dietician and a graduate dietician degree may be necessary for higher positions. Also make sure the program is accredited by the American Dietetic Association's Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education or the dietician degree may not lead to a license or certification required for certain jobs.
Dietician degree coursework will include: advanced nutrition; community nutrition; nutrition counseling; food science principles; life cycle nutrition; medical nutrition and food service management. Science courses will include: biochemistry; chemistry; human anatomy; physiology and microbiology. Other dietician degree courses needed may include: management; budgeting; and, purchasing.
Licensure and Certification
Dietitians are regulated to one degree or another in 46 different jurisdictions in the U.S., with licensure required in 33 and certification in 12 of the jurisdictions. Usually, a minimum education and work experience is necessary to qualify for a dietician degree, licensure or certification. In some states a person must be licensed to work in the field while in others your occupational title is limited without a license. Be sure the dietician degree program satisfies the applicable requirements for the applicable jurisdiction.
Career Paths For Students with Dietician Degree
Clinical dietitians work in nursing homes and hospitals along with doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers to better determine and satisfy personal diet needs. They diagnose nutritional needs, develop and implement nutrition programs, and evaluate and report the results. Some clinical dietitians specialize in various area such as weight management or in the dietary care of diabetic, or critically ill patients.
Community dieticians work for health maintenance businesses or public health clinics teaching people healthy eating habits and how to prevent food related illnesses and diseases. A community dietician will also consult and advise on special dieting needs for children, the elderly or individuals with health issues.
Management dietitians generally work for different businesses or organizations like cafeterias, intuitional settings or private practice. They manage large-scale meal planning and preparation for these organizations. The management duties include hiring, training, and directing other dietitians and food service workers; budgeting for and purchasing food, equipment, and supplies; enforcing compliance with sanitary and safety regulations; and preparing records and reports.
Consultant dietitians are private practitioners and contractors with healthcare and other large organizations and facilities. They perform dietary screenings for clients and offer advice on nutrional concerns, weight loss, cholesterol reduction and other issues. Some work for wellness programs, sports teams, retail chains, and other food businesses. They may consult with food services, providing expertise in a variety of areas.
Think about what kind of career path you are looking for and then gear your dietician degree toward it.
Average job growth is expected for dietitians for the next decade. For those with advanced or specialist dietician degrees the job prospects are the best.