Nutritionist and Dietitian Careers
Areas of Practice
Nutritionists are found in areas of health and wellness organizations throughout the US and the world as well as at schools, business and resorts. Depending on the specialty and certifications, nutritionists can find employment at:
- Outpatient clinics
- Community clinics
- Long and short-term care facilities
- Community support agencies
- Research institutes
- Retail nutrition and wellness centers
- Private communities
- Educational institutions
- Hospitality including hotels and resorts
- Consulting companies and agencies
- Government agencies
Remember, employment requirements can vary by state. Be sure to check with your state's licensure body for licensing requirements or contact a nutritional school in your state.
Nutritionists and Dietitians can have varied careers which require different job duties and employment requirements. For more information on specific nutritional and dietetic careers, please visit our career pages.
What are the daily tasks for various Nutritionists and Dietitians?
The day-to-day activities in the nutritional field can vary wildly depending on the area of expertise and specific location of practice. In general, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov), nutritionists and registered dietitians may be expected to plan food and nutrition programs, supervise meal preparation, and/or oversee the serving of meals. They may also be responsible for promoting healthy eating habits and recommending dietary modifications which may prevent and treat some illnesses.
Clinical Nutritionists and Dietitians work in hospitals, clinics and long and short term care facilities, and may focus on patients whose primary illnesses can range from diabetes, heart disease, kidney failure, or obesity to routine operations and hospital stays due to illness or injury. This environment can mean working closely with physicians, nurses and other medical specialists as a team to treat patients and ensure their long-term health. Remember, those interested in a hospital or care facility environments should learn more about the facilities and requirements in their area.
Community Nutritionists and Dietitians work primarily in public health clinics, health and human services agencies, and private community clinics to provide counseling to individuals and groups on nutritional best practices. These programs are typically part of a community program to prevent nutritional related diseases and promote health. Community nutritionists and dietitians can review their patient's needs and prepare nutritional recommendations to fit their specific needs and lifestyles or provide group guidance to the obese, elderberry or expecting mothers. Nutritionists and dietitians working in community settings may also be responsible for producing health literature for distribution on issues such as dietary fiber, vitamin supplements, or the nutritional content of recipes.
Management Nutritionists and Dietitians typically spend their days in health care facilities, cafeterias, prisons, schools and other areas where a large number of people are fed. Preparing meals for large groups of people on a daily basis can involve not only food preparation but the coordination of a staff of workers and supply orders but also accounting and customer service.
Consultant Nutritionists and Dietitians can work with health care facilities or for private practices to perform nutritional screenings of clients or prescribe diet-related advice to combat ailments such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
What are the character traits of a good Nutritionist or Dietitian?
According to the BLS, a dietetic career can require analytical and organizational skills but also a need to show compassion. Some careers, such as community dieticians, may also be required to be good speakers as well as good listeners. And, as dietetics is a medical science, dietitians and nutritionists should have problem solving skills as they must evaluate the health of patients and determine the appropriate food choices to obtain their goals.
What do Nutritionists and Registered Dietitians earn?
The income of a nutritional science professional can vary widely, depending on the state and area of interest. The variance depends primarily on the area in which the professional is practicing. A small town nutritionist can make a modest income compared to a registered dietitian in a metropolitan city, where as a the same dietitian working in a hospital may earn less than a nutritionist running their own practice.
According to the United States Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary of nutritionists and dietitians was above the national average for all occupations. The following is a list of median annual incomes compiled by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics for the following areas.
Nutritionist Salary and Outlook Information
Find Specific Salary information by State please visit our detailed nutritional salary page
What is The Commission on Dietetic Registration and its examination process?
According to their website, the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) is a body that "protects the public through credentialing and assessment processes that assure the competence of registered dietitians and dietetic technicians, registered" and has screened over 80,000 Registered Dietitians and Dietetic Technicians through its examination process since 1968.
The CDR awards seven different credentials including:
- Registered Dietitian (RD)
- Dietetic Technician, Registered (DTR)
- Board Certified Specialist in Renal Nutrition (CSR)
- Board Certified Specialist in Pediatric Nutrition (CSP)
- Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD)
- Board Certified Specialist in Gerontological Nutrition (CSG)
- Board Certified Specialist in Oncology Nutrition (CSO)
What is a Nutritionist or Registered Dietitian Assistant?
A Nutritionist or Registered Dietitian Assistant works closely with professionals in the nutrition industry and performs tasks including daily nutritional assessments as well as general health and dietary assessments. They may also assist in prescribe general and specialized nutritional plans for clients and patients, as well as agencies and facilities working with clients or patients.
What are the next steps to a career in nutrition?
1. Find a degree in nutritional sciences offered on a campus in your area or online. (Be sure to check our list of accredited colleges)
2. Research schools and degree programs for an understanding of prerequisites and admissions requirements.
3. Satisfy undergraduate or graduate requirements in related fields. Be sure that the requirements for exams such as those of the CDR are met during this time.
4. If required, earn your certification or license as a nutritionist or dietitian.
Nutritionist & Dietitian Continuing Education Units/Credits CEU CE
Some licenses and certifications may require professionals to continue their education to maintain their credentials. Nutritionists and dietitians looking to complete continuing education units are encouraged to find courses and programs through Nutritionist World's network of institutions and find CEU's that work with their specific organization's requirements. We encourage our visiting professionals to request information from as many schools as they would like to find the information and institution that not only matches the needs of their continued certification, but their professional development as well. Find Continuing Education Credits
Sources and further readings:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Dietitians and Nutritionists: www.bls.gov/ooh/Healthcare/Dietitians-and-nutritionists.htm
Commission on Dietetic Registration: http://cdrnet.org/default.cfm
About the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: http://www.eatright.org/
The Certification Board for Nutrition Specialists (CBNS): http://cbns.org/