There are three primary types of dietitian careers: teaching, research and patient consultation. A dietitian is someone who works to promote healthy eating. He or she can find employment opportunities in the health services sector, in universities or in companies that produce food. The primary reason that most people want to pursue a dietitian career is to help people improve their health.
Some of the most popular dietitian careers involve teaching. There are two types of teaching careers: those in the health care sector and those in the general public. Teaching in the heath care sector is primarily focused on groups of patients or clients facing similar health challenges. For example, a diabetes center might host a course or series of courses on healthy eating for people with diabetes. These courses are very focused and are primarily targeted at adults.
Courses for the general public are intended to reach a wider audience. For example, a community center can offer courses on healthy eating on a budget, how to cook healthy meals at home or how to make healthy food choices when eating out. The audience is very broad, but the course material is quite focused. Someone who is interested in this type of teaching must be an engaging speaker and have a passion for teaching. There is an increasing demand for these types of courses, because public interest in healthy eating is very high.
Research-focused dietitian careers can include positions in hospitals, university research labs or government agencies. This type of career can require additional training in food sciences, organic chemistry or microbiology. The primary areas of research include nutritional properties of food, the impact of food choices on long- and short-term health as well as the impact of diet on specific diseases or health conditions.
People who explore dietitian careers are often naturally outgoing, enjoy working with a variety of people and get a great deal of personal satisfaction from their work. The ability to have a positive impact on someone else, help them overcome health challenges and provide advice that can be used on a daily basis is very motivating. Anyone who is shy and does not enjoy continually meeting new people might not find this type of career enjoyable.
A post-secondary education from a recognized university in nutritional studies is required to become a dietitian. Many people complete a graduate or doctoral degree in food sciences or nutrition in order to become a dietitian. This program typically takes between eight and nine years of full-time study to complete.