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How Do I Become a Dietitian?

Hillary Flynn
Updated May 17, 2024
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Dietitians, also called nutritionists, work in private practices, at hospitals, for schools or nursing homes, and for outpatient clinics. The main goal of a dietitian is to implement healthy eating plans for patients with disorders or diseases or as a preventative measure for healthy individuals. To become a dietitian, one must complete a bachelor's degree program in food and nutrition, dietetics, food service systems, or a similar subject. The program should be approved by the American Dietetic Association’s Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education.

An online registered dietitian can work in a hospital or serve patients by providing nutritional care in another medical setting. Sometimes, registered dietitian nutritionists work at nonprofits, educational centers, or government departments to provide population-level nutritional assistance.

The median salary of a registered dietitian is $63,090 with job growth expected to increase by 11 percent from 2020 to 2030. To become a dietician, you will likely need an accredited bachelor’s or master’s degree and a state license.

Most states require a license to become a dietitian. However, requirements vary by state, so it is key to determine which state one wishes to practice in before planning an academic program. In addition to the requirements made by individual states, some may wish to pursue certification by the Commission on Dietetic Registration of the American Dietetic Association. The credential awarded is Registered Dietitian. Though this is not required, it may increase job opportunities.

To acquire the Registered Dietitian designation, one must pass an exam. Before being allowed to sit for the exam, a candidate must first complete certain educational requirements as well as a supervised accredited internship. Most internships come after a bachelor's degree is obtained, so a lot of candidates wishing to become a dietitian choose to complete internships in conjunction with a graduate degree program. All advanced education in dietetics is helpful in obtaining sought after positions and competition is often heavy for prime spots.

To become a dietitian specializing in a focused area such as rehabilitative nutrition for anorexics, it is always best to acquire advanced education on that particular subject. Dietetics has many areas of specialization, but to branch out into different areas, a dietitian must first gain the appropriate knowledge, then gain the appropriate experience that will support entry into a new area of expertise. To become a dietitian for a school, or nursing home, or any of the other common facilities, a candidate should be selective with internship options and ensure the internship will provide the required experience. Similarly, if a dietician wants to specialize in a certain field, such as pediatric healthcare, then they should also aim to select an internship opportunity within that field.

Some dietitians work in research, some in clinical practice, and some choose to work in education. It's a good idea to explore all opportunities to determine where the best fit will be for each individual. Most academic programs will provide an overview of the different areas, but it's important to do a lot of investigating to ensure admittance to the most comprehensive program.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Hillary Flynn
By Hillary Flynn
Hillary Flynn's insatiable curiosity led her to join the WiseGeek team, where she contributes well-researched articles on various topics. In addition to her work with WiseGeek, Hillary manages an electronic publishing business that allows her to develop her skills in technical writing, graphic design, and business development. With a passion for satirical writing and traveling to historical places, Hillary brings a distinctive voice to her content.
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Hillary Flynn
Hillary Flynn
Hillary Flynn's insatiable curiosity led her to join the WiseGeek team, where she contributes well-researched articles...
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