Fundamentals of Human Nutrition/Nutrition as a Profession

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Although the terms nutritionist and dietician are commonly used interchangeably, there is a distinction between the two on a professional level. A dietician is a nutritionist who completes the requirements set by the Commission on Dietetic Registration. A nutritionist who wants to become a dietitian must complete a program approved by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) and pass an exam to be considered a Registered Dietician (“ExploreHealthCareers,” n.d.). Put simply, a dietician is a nutritionist registered and certified by the CDR. The median salary for a dietician in the United States is $55,920, with the top 10% of dieticians earning $78,720 and the bottom 10% earning $33,980(“ How much do Nutritionists make?” n.d.). In addition, California is the state that pays its dieticians and nutritionists the most.

To begin a career in nutrition, a four-year bachelor’s degree is required. This degree is usually in a program that focuses on dietetics, nutrition, biology, or another type of physical science. To receive the Registered Dietician certification, an internship or work-study program with at least 1200 hours of supervised training must be completed (“Nutrition Careers,” n.d.). In some states, registered dieticians may be required to receive more credentialing in order to practice in that state, such as a Certified Dietician Nutritionist (“ExploreHealthCareers,” n.d.). Nevertheless, these additional licenses do not have more requirements beyond what is needed to become a registered dietician.

The field of nutrition can be divided in to three main settings in which dieticians and nutritionists can work. Registered dieticians and nutritionists can work in clinics, in the community, and in management (“ExploreHealthCareers,” n.d.). In clinics, dieticians and nutritionists work individually with patients and their families. They evaluate, plan, and enact dietary strategies and nutritional therapies that are concentrated on improving various medical problems such as hypertension, diabetes, and obesity. In addition, dieticians and nutritionists in this setting, come up with plans to help patients that are receiving medical treatments that may impact their diets and appetite, like cancer patients receiving chemotherapy. In the community, dieticians and nutritionists work in health and recreational centers. They work with and target specific populations such as the elderly or children. The goal of this targeting is to inform the public and enact new plans to achieve healthier lifestyles. Lastly, dieticians and nutritionists can work in management. They may work in various large-scale food-service operations that feed the community. Dieticians and nutritionists are needed in these settings to help maintain and optimize performance of these operations through food sourcing, long-term budgeting, and menu planning. (n.d.). Retrieved November 17, 2015, from

How much do Nutritionists make? (n.d.). Retrieved November 17, 2015, from

Nutrition Careers | (n.d.). Retrieved November 17, 2015, from

Professions in nutrition are on the rise in the United States and hospitals are not the only place looking to hire nutritionists (, 2015). Nutritionists and dietitians are finding jobs in health care, education, food service, daycare programs, corporate cafeterias, and even fast food chains (, 2015). Even Firs Lady Michelle Obama has made the importance of food literacy a major priority on a national level (, 2015). Nutritionists and dietitians are not the same thing contrary to a lot of people’s knowledge. Basically a dietitian is a nutritionist who is licensed and registered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR). (, 2015) To become a registered dietitian you need to complete a 4-year bachelor’s degree program in a nutrition or physical science related field and 1200 hours of supervised training through an approved internship or work-study program. There are over 250 ACEND (Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics) –accredited dietetic internship programs in the United States. Registered dietitian nutritionists are nutrition and food experts who can bridge the gap of the science of nutrition and healthy living to help individuals make distinctive and positive lifestyle changes. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) of the United States of Labor states the mean annual salary for a registered dietician nationally was averaged at $56,170 in 2012. The animal food manufacturing industry was the top paying industry where dieticians worked and they made an average of $88,100 a year (, 2015). Dietitians do a variety of different things in their everyday work. They provide food and nutrition plans and programs to people, patients, athletes, etc. They help their patients with weight loss and other diet related interests ( , 2015). Most importantly dietitians provide and promote healthy eating habits and dietary modifications to help prevent and treat illnesses.

Nutrition Careers | (n.d.). Retrieved November 30, 2015, from

What is an RDN and DTR? (n.d.). Retrieved November 30, 2015, from

Careers in Food Science and Human Nutrition. (n.d.). Retrieved December 1, 2015, from

Registered Dietitian Career Overview. (n.d.). Retrieved December 1, 2015, from

In today’s society, there are many career opportunities available in nutritional sciences. Colleges and universities now have the option for students to major and/or minor in nutrition as well. The role of nutrition is increasing in importance largely because a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle can reduce the risk of many medical conditions that doctors diagnose on a daily basis. Dieticians implement nutrition programs and oversee the preparation and serving of meals. Like any other health care provider, their goal is to prevent and treat patients’ illnesses by educating them about proper eating habits and making adjustments to their current diet. Three types specialties for dietitians that will be discussed in this section are clinical dietitian, community dietitian, and consultant. Clinical dietitians offer nutritional services to patients in nursing homes, hospitals, and other institutions. Their job is to create a nutritional program based on the patient’s nutritional needs, evaluate, and provide feedback of the patient’s personalized program. They discuss the medical and nutritional needs with the patient’s doctors and other health care providers (“Careers in Food,” n.d.). Clinical dietitians can also specialize in fields such as pediatric, renal, diabetes, nutrition support, and many more. Usually the clinical dietitian is required to be a registered dietitian nutritionist, otherwise known as an RDN (“Career Opportunities,” n.d.). In addition to clinical dietitians, other types of dieticians exist in nutrition. Community dieticians counsel people on nutritional practices that are made to promote health and prevent illnesses. They work in public health clinics, health maintenance organizations, and home health agencies. At these places, community dietitians are able to assess individuals’ needs, design plans based off these needs, and teach them about how to follow the plan accordingly. A consultant dietitian can own a private practice or work at a health care facility. They can administer nutrition screenings and advise their clients about health concerns that are impacted by diet such as weight loss. This specialty is very versatile in that a consultant can work for sports teams and even wellness programs (“Careers in Food,” n.d.). With a focus in health and human nutrition, people can become a public health educator. State and local departments of public health employ them, and their job is to direct State-mandated public health programs. Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is an organization that a public health educator could potentially work closely with or for. WIC serves low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women and children under the age of five who are at nutritional risk. They provide supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for these people (“Women, Infants, and Children,” n.d.). Other job opportunities in this field of nutrition are cooperative extension offices and the Congregate Meals program (“Career Opportunities,” n.d.).

Career Opportunities with a Nutritional Sciences Degree. (n.d.). Retrieved December 3, 2015, from

Careers in Food Science and Human Nutrition. (n.d.). Retrieved December 3, 2015, from

Women, Infants and Children (WIC). (2014, March 10). Retrieved December 3, 2015, from

In order to become either a Registered Dietician Nutritionist or a Dietician Technician Registered you have to first obtain degrees and pass a national examination. For dieticians one can study a variety of subjects such as food and nutrition sciences, business, economics, biochemistry, microbiology, and chemistry. In order to become an RD the following steps must be completed: earn a bachelor’s degree at a US accredited college or university and the coursework must be accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Also, one must pass a national examination given by the Commission on Dietetic Registration. Finally one must complete an ACEND-accredited supervised practice program at a community agency, local foodservice, or a health-care facility. (“Registered Dietitian (RD) – ACEND Fact Sheet,” n.d.) In order to become a DTR the following steps must be completed: earn an associate’s degree granted by a US accredited college/university; has completed a Dietetic Technician Program as approved by the Commission on Accreditation/Approval for Dietetics Education of the American Dietetic Association; has completed the Registration Examination for Dietetic Technicians; has canceled the annual registration maintenance fee; and has completed 50 hours of approved continuing professional education every 5 years. (“CDR Credential Verification System” n.d.)

The Following are possible career opportunities for those interested in nutritional science: • Clinical Dietetics • Food and Nutrition Management • Education and Research • Related Health Professionals (M.D., PA, RN) • Public Health Nutrition

Clinical Dietetics: Those that are Clinical Dietetics are normally in Hospitals in an outpatient setting and deal with long-term care. There are many different specialties to choose from such as pediatrics, diabetes, and renal; although an RD is normally required for such. Median Salaries for in-patient care earn $56,659. Ambulatory care workers earn a median salary of $51,750. Long-term care workers earn a median salary of $58,281. (“Compensation Benefits Survey of the Dietetics Profession,” 2009)

Food and Nutrition Management: With a degree in this area the types of jobs that are found are as follows: hospitals, long-term care, businesses, and schools. Also, you have the ability to work with sports teams, day care centers, work with Chefs, or be a consultant for health choices on menus. The Median salary for these jobs is $67,995. (“Compensation Benefits Survey of the Dietetics Profession,” 2009)

Education and Research: Opportunities for this field include work in: colleges, universities, health professional schools, and culinary schools. The work of this person is to educate physician’s assistants, nurses, dietetic students and so for on the science of food and nutrition. However if one wishes to work in a research or university-based job, then advanced degrees will most likely be required. Also, in order to teach K-12 one must complete further coursework. The median salary is $65,000. (“Compensation Benefits Survey of the Dietetics Profession,” 2009)

Related Health Professionals: These include: o Chiropractor (DC) o Dentist (DDS) o Physical Therapist (PT) o Physician (MD or DO) o Physician Assistant (PA) o Veterinarian

ACEND Fact Sheet - Registered Dietitian (RD) - from the Academy. (n.d.). Retrieved December 2, 2015, from CDR Credential Verification. (n.d.). Retrieved December 3, 2015, from prweb28 p28fn01 prd eng Compensation & Benefits Survey 2009: Despite Overall Downturn in Economy, RD and DTR Salaries Rise. (2010). Retrieved December 3, 2015, from