With an obesity epidemic currently sweeping the nation, dietitians are more vital than ever for helping people learn about proper nutritional practices and for overseeing the implementation of diet plans and regimes. Dietitians are able to assist people in overcoming various health issues related to food and nutrition imperfections in the patient’s diet. As people continue to reach out for help concerning their weight and nutrition related dilemmas, dietitians will continue to play an important role in helping others to gain and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
There are several different types of dietitians, and the salary that a dietitian earns depends on his or her specialization, experience, and place of work. As the world has gradually become more health-conscious, more opportunities for dietitians and nutritionists have begun to emerge, and each new practice that is available to dietitians comes with its own educational and experience requirements. Generally, the practices requiring more extensive education and greater experience pay the greatest wages.
The American Dietetic Association has separated average annual wages for dietitians based on their area of practice. Dietitians who work in business and consultation earned an average of $60,008; in acute clinical nutrition, $48,984; in long term clinical nutrition, $53,997; in ambulatory clinical nutrition, $52,000; in management of nutrition and food, $64,002; in community nutrition education, $48,006; and in nutritional education and research, $66,061.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Additionally, the wage of a dietitian depends on his or her geographic location. Some areas in the nation are hot spots for health conscious people and nutritional education. For instance, California and New York are home to an above-average percentage of health conscious people, and dietitians oftentimes earn better salaries in these states. Other areas, such as the South, are much less concerned with nutritional fundamentals, and dietitians earn lower wages in these places.
Job Description and Outlook
Dietitians are responsible for helping their patients to achieve healthy lifestyles. This includes educating the common public, designing specific meal plans and guidelines in order to remedy a particular health issue, and inspecting foods and new food products for health and nutritional quality. There are four specific types of dietitians recognized by the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
Clinical dietitians offer their services to patients who are in hospitals. They give them health advice that will hopefully aid the patient in overcoming his or her illness, such as diet plans to help one overcome acute diabetes or aiding obese patients with weight loss.
Management dietitians ensure that the meals provided at public places such as schools or prisons are well-rounded and healthy. These dietitians budget the establishment’s food spending, plan all meals, and survey the location’s sanitation levels to ensure that visitors are always eating in a healthy environment.
Community dietitians are dedicated to educating the general public about healthy eating practices. They will oftentimes hold health clinics or seminars that educate people about leading healthy lifestyles.
Consultant dietitians maintain their own practices. They are hired by clients to instruct the client about how to achieve a desired level of health and fitness. For instance, a consultant dietitian may be hired by a sports team to educate the team about how to refuel their bodies after a tough workout.
Dietitians typically work in pleasant, clean environments and will usually put in a 40 hour work week. The outlook for this career is rather positive, with the field available to dietitians increasing by about 9 percent. This constitutes normal growth for a career path.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Training and Education Requirements
To become a dietitian, one must possess at least a bachelor’s degree in an area related to the study of food and health. For instance, one could become a dietitian with a bachelor’s degree in foods and nutrition or dietetics. Dietitians with more extensive educations will earn greater salaries.
Internships or other prerequisite experiences are not required to become a dietitian in most cases. However, when certification is required for one to legally be able to practice in a particular state, some certification programs require a term of supervised internship.
Licensure and certification requirements vary by state. In some areas, these requirements are more rigorous that others; for instance, in some states, one does not need to be certified in order to practice as a dietitian, but he or she must be certified in order to place certain distinguishing titles before their name.
To achieve a license or certification, one must meet a variety of educational standards, which again vary by state. One should check the requirements mandated by the state that he or she wishes to practice in before their education has been completed. Occasionally, one must pass a special exam in order to achieve certification.
The mandatory certification programs required by various states are independent of any professional association. However, the Commission on Dietetic Registration of the American Dietetic Association offers a special certification, called a Registered Dietitian certification, which can help further educate a dietitian and boost his or her potential salary. To achieve this certification, one must either complete 900 hours of supervised internship at an accredited location or complete a special program lasting four to five years. Registered Dietitians must then complete a minimum of 75 credit hours in special continued-education courses every 5 years.
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