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Registered Dietitian Career Information and Education Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a registered dietician. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and certification requirements to find out if this is the career for you.

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Partially because of the growing concern for healthy nutrition practices these days, employment growth of dieticians and nutritionists is projected to be much faster than that for many other occupations. With the proper education, training and completion of an internship, you may qualify to become licensed as a Registered Dietician/Nutritionist.

Essential Information

Registered dietitians evaluate the nutritional needs of individuals and groups to develop appropriate nutritional plans. They work in a variety of settings including doctors' offices, government agencies, nursing homes, community health organizations, schools, home healthcare services, outpatient care centers and private practices. Registered dietitians must complete a degree program and internship, as well as pass the registration examination for dietitians.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in nutrition or dietetics
Other Requirements Registered Dietician Nutritionist credential requires 1,200 hours of supervised experience and passing an exam
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 16% for all for dietitians and nutritionists
Average Salary (2015)* $57,910 for all for dietitians and nutritionists

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Registered Dietitian Career Information

As food and nutrition experts, registered dietitians plan nutrition programs for clients or medical patients, promote healthy eating habits through education, plan menus for hospitals or schools, conduct nutrition research and provide nutritional counseling. Registered dietitians may also recommend dietary changes or nutritional programs to clients that address health issues, such as obesity, high blood pressure or heart disease.

Dietitians work in a variety of settings, including doctors' offices, government agencies, nursing homes, community health organizations, schools, home healthcare services, outpatient care centers and private practices. In clinical or community settings, dietitians perform management, consultant and research duties. Additional specialization areas include diabetes education, renal nutrition and pediatric nutrition.

Career Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there is expected to be a 16% increase in jobs for dietitians and nutritionists between 2014 and 2024. Analysts believe this expected growth is the result of the rising interest in health and nutrition of the public, the aging population in particular. The BLS reported that as of May 2015, dietitians and nutritionists earned a median annual salary of $57,910.

Registered Dietitian Education Requirements

Dietitians are typically required to have at least a bachelor's degree in nutrition or dietetics. Common courses include nutritional assessment, clinical nutrition, food systems management and nutrient metabolism. In addition to coursework, students may complete seminars, research, clinical experiences and internships.

Certification

While not necessary to practice as a dietitian, candidates may earn a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) credential through the American Dietetic Association's Commission on Dietetic Registration. Dietitians earn the credential upon completion of a bachelor's degree or academic coursework in dietetics, a supervised internship of at least 1,200 hours and the passage of the Registration Examination for Dietitians. RDNs must complete a minimum of 75 hours of continuing education every five years to maintain certification.

You can become an RDN with a bachelor's degree earned through a program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). With the completion of a 1,200-hour internship, you can qualify to sit for the RDN credential exam. Though specifics vary, most states require licensure which in turn may require RDN certification.

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