Put down that Big Mac and listen up. It’s time to think about your diet. Instinctively, we all know that healthy eating is good for our overall medical health. Thankfully, dietitians in the medical field are well trained to guide us on how exactly we can do this.
The role of a dietitian in the medical field involves educating the public about proper nutrition and diet. Trained dietitians teach people how to eat healthily, by helping them plan personalized menus and also investigating the nutritional characteristics of food. A dietitian studies and understands the science behind food.
To become a dietitian, you must have studied at the undergraduate level and received a Bachelor’s degree. You can also go further and pursue a Master’s degree. The American Dietetic Association (ADA) approves several programs across the country. Your degree program should include both practical and classroom learning. Because many dietitians also manage nutritional and community programs, their degree courses will include business and administration classes, in addition to the scientific and nutritional ones.
Once you’ve completed your degree and the requisite internship hours, you can apply for a license or certificate in your sate of practice, although this is not mandatory. This involves passing an exam. Your certification as a Registered Dietitian should be approved by the Commission on Dietetic Registration of the American Dietetic Association. This certification also involves continuing education throughout your career. There are also specific state approved certifications.
The average salary of a dietitian is quite substantial. At the moment, dietitians can make anywhere from $31,000 to $71,000 per year. Of course, education, location, and experience will also contribute to a higher salary level. In opposition to other medical careers, dietitians who work in private care centers (outpatient) earn more on average than those employed by the government. Dietitians who work as consultants and in businesses also earn more (over $60,000); while those in long term care facilities such as clinics or nursing homes earn around $53,000. Dietitians employed by community centers can still earn in the high 40’s annually.
Future job prospects for dietitians are promising, although the growth expected will only be at the average rate of 9% in years to come. This will be a result of an increased need for nutritional education among the elderly population. Another factor in the growth rate will be the above mentioned interest in healthier eating and lifestyle changes. There will be an especially greater need for dietitians to work in the food service industry, to ensure that these organizations meet dietary standards. Metropolitan areas such as New York and Los Angeles offer the best employment outlooks right now. These are good reasons for those pursuing a career as a dietitian to get their degree, as those who have the better credentials will get the better jobs.
Now more than ever, Americans are becoming aware of the state of their nutritional health. From disturbing facts about fast food to the Atkins diet, it’s clear that people know that they need proper dietary and nutrition advice. In the United Sates, reports estimate that people are spending billions each year trying to lose weight. Millions of Americans are constantly on diets. Obesity and heart disease are rampant, and obesity in particular is affecting more and more young people. A career as a dietitian can offer you a fantastic opportunity to be part of a positive change in the nutritional lifestyle of young and old alike.