In order to become a research dietitian, it will be necessary to complete a degree program, and then typically pass a certification exam in order to become licensed. Some people who work as dietitians are able to simply get a bachelor's degree and then become licensed, but those who wish to work in research, which is a more advanced field, may need to get a master's degree or higher. It will then be necessary to find employment with a company or organization. Universities sometimes hire research dietitians, as well as hospitals, government programs, or independent companies that wish to conduct research on food and nutrition.
Education is the most important step in order to become a research dietitian. It is necessary at the very least to pursue a bachelor's degree in this field from an accredited university. Because so many dietitian careers require a master's degree, anyone who wants to become a research dietitian will almost certainly be required to have one; some universities will even combine their undergraduate and graduate programs and allow students to go straight through without having to reapply. Sometimes this will allow the education to be completed in as little as five years if the student goes full time.
The next step will generally be a certification exam in order to become a licensed and registered dietitian. Even if you will not be working directly with patients as a research dietitian, most companies will still want someone who is licensed as a final way of ensuring he or she has completed her education, and has the knowledge necessary to succeed in whatever position she is given. Once education and licensing is complete, the next step to become a research dietitian is to find a company or organization that is currently conducting this type of research.
For some people, a university is the next logical step; someone who wants to be a professor may even go on to get his or her PhD in dietetics. Hospitals and schools sometimes also conduct their own research in this field, or may hire a dietitian to plan meals based on the nutritional needs of the people they serve. Independent companies, such as food producers, or even health companies conducting research on the impacts of diet on the human body, may also hire dietitians for this purpose. There are a number of different ways to become a research dietitian and pursue a career path that interests you.