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The Registered Dietitian (RD) is a supportive member of the professional health care team who directs nutritional care to achieve optimal health of individuals and groups. Dietitians and nutritionists promote healthy eating habits, evaluates clients’ diets, and suggests diet modifications to help prevent disease and treat illnesses. RDs who manage large scale food service systems for institutions such as hospitals, prison and schools are usually referred to as Management Dietitians. Consultant Dietitians, often work under contract with various entities such as with sport teams, extended health care facilities or in a group or private practice. Dietitians in Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT) assess nutritional needs of patients, prescribe a therapeutic plan, and assess the results. Community Dietitians work in public health clinics, supermarkets and home health agencies. Within the last few years, interest in nutrition has led to opportunities in food manufacturing, advertising and marketing. Some dietitians engage in research activities to enhance the profession.

Educational Qualifications

Registered Dietitians (RDs) are food and nutrition experts who have completed a minimum of a BS at an accredited US university, or have college coursework approved by the Commission on Accreditation/ Approval for Dietetics Education (CAADE) of the American Dietetic Association(ADA). An RD must complete an accredited, approved and supervised practice program at a hospital or medical center and pass a national, written examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR). Once credentialed, an RD must continue to complete professional education requirements in order to maintain registration. Some RDs hold additional certifications in specialized areas of practice, such as pediatric or renal nutrition, nutrition support, and diabetes education.

Job Outlook

Nutrition and Dietetics is one of the four fastest growing healthcare professions with an expected growth rate of 20% through 2020. An increasingly obese and aging population demands food and nutritional counseling regarding fitness and sports performance. Public interest in nutrition and the emphasis on health education and prudent lifestyles also spurs demand. About half of the job openings are in hospitals, residential care facilities, or offices and clinics of physicians. Additional jobs may be in colleges and universities, school systems, and social service agencies.

Entering Salary

The national average is $56,170 and the average California income is $68,700. However, the salary is different depending on the practice area. 

Career information adapted from:

  • U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2013). Occupational Outlook Handbook. Retrieved from http://www.bls.gov/ooh

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