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How Do I Become a Registered Dietitian? Education & Career

Registered Dietitian

A registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN), also known as a registered dietitian (RD), is a credentialed healthcare professional who applies evidence-based information about nutrition and diet to contribute to the health and wellness of individuals, groups, and communities.

You will learn what the work of these nutrition specialists consists of and, also, how you can become one. As public awareness and concern for healthy living increases, so does the demand for nutrition-trained healthcare professionals.

Salary of a nutritionist in the United States

The average salary for a nutritionist is $55,251 per year, but this salary can depend on several factors including experience, education, and certifications. Such salary can also vary depending on where the person lives and whether they work in a specialized field, such as consulting or research.

For example, the cities in the United States that pay the highest salaries for nutritionists are the following:

  • New York, NY: $63,992 per year
  • Harford, CT: $59,891 per year
  • Philadelphia, PA: $58,286 per year
  • Brooklyn, NY: $57,597 per year
  • Houston, TX: $56,434 per year
  • Cincinnati, OH: $54,703 per year
  • Las Vegas, NV: $54,367 per year
  • Chesapeake, VA: $48,202 per year
  • Hickory, NC: $47,494 per year
Encouraging employment opportunities

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), nutritionist and dietitian jobs are expected to grow 11% much faster than the average for the job market as a whole through 2030.

Employment opportunities should increase due to a large population ageing, as well as society’s growing interest in health and nutrition.

Since high job growth is expected for nutritionists, applicants who have a bachelor’s degree and state license (if required) will have many opportunities to work in their field after graduation.A master’s degree and specialty certification, such as registered dietitians can also be an advantage.

What does a Nutritionist Do?

Many people turn to a nutritionist to ensure they follow the best diet for their needs and lifestyle. Let’s see what a nutritionist is and what their responsibilities are:

Nutritionists work in a variety of settings, such as public health clinics, schools, cafeterias, and nursing homes.
Nutritionists are food and nutrition experts who help people develop healthy eating practices and make good food choices.

Your job responsibilities include:

  • Explain the benefits of good nutrition to clients.
  • Determine the health and dietary needs of the consultant.
  • Develop appropriate meal plans for the client, considering her health, lifestyle, and budget needs.
  • Continually evaluate the effectiveness of the client’s meal plan and make any necessary adjustments.
  • Promote good nutrition through presentations on diet and disease prevention through healthy eating.
  • Raise awareness about proper food labeling and other nutrition-related public policy issues.
  • Conduct research and continually train.

Step 1. Get a bachelor’s degree

Nutritionists are generally required to have at least a 4-year college degree. Relevant careers for future nutritionists are nutrition science, dietetics, and food management.

In some schools, these degrees are combined into one specialty. Courses for these specializations may include classes in basic science, food principles, nutrition therapy, and food safety.

Step 2. Consider a graduate degree

While a graduate degree is generally not required, aspiring nutritionists may want to consider pursuing a graduate degree, because some employers prefer them.

There are master’s and doctoral degrees available in nutrition and related sciences.

You may also benefit from earning a graduate degree in a business field, which can help you work for private companies or start your own business.

Step 3. Meet the license requirements

In the United States, most states require nutritionists to be licensed, and the requirements vary by state.

Twelve states require legal certification of nutritionists, which means that only nutritionists who have received certification can use certain titles; nutritionists who are not licensed can still practice.

Only one state requires registration for the use of specific titles, but unregistered nutritionists can still practice.

Step 4. Get certified

The Commission on Dietary Registration (CDR) (site available only in English as of this writing) of the American Dietetic Association certifies nutritionists.

Offers the Registered Dietitian (RD) designation to nutritionists who hold a bachelor’s degree or have completed an accredited dietetics program and passed a written examination.

In addition, an internship program or academic program that includes supervised practice of at least 1,200 hours is required.

CDR also offers specialty certifications for nutritionists, such as Board Certified Specialist in Gerontologic Nutrition (CSG) and Board Certified Specialist in Pediatric Nutrition (CSP).

Although all certifications are voluntary, some employers prefer nutritionists with the RD designation.

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