For entry-level work as a pediatric nutritionist, a bachelor's degree is often sufficient; however, in order to advance in the field, a graduate degree is usually needed. All pediatric nutritionists must be registered dietitians, which requires ongoing education to maintain registration status.
Pediatric nutritionists, also called pediatric dietitians, are registered dietitians (RDs) who are often certified in pediatrics. They are responsible for encouraging healthy food choices for children of all ages and backgrounds by assessing and coordinating nutritional menus. They play a vital role in the health of children. A bachelor's degree is generally required for entry-level employment. State licensing is often necessary. Professional credentials, such as the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) and Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS), may cover state licensing requirements. Professional credentials require students to meet specific education and training requirements and pass an exam.
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree; graduate degree for advancement|
|Other Requirements||State license and/or professional registration/certification credentials|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||16% for nutritionists and dietitians*|
|Median Salary (2015)||$57,910 for nutritionists and dietitians*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Pediatric Nutritionist Salary
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for both nutritionists and dietitians was $57,910 as of 2015 (www.bls.gov). Most of these professionals earned between $35,240 and $80,950. The BLS projected job growth of 16% from 2014-2024 for dietitians and nutritionists, which is faster than average when compared to other industries.
The duties of pediatric nutritionists revolve around the health of children with and without special needs, such as those with obesity or diabetes. Pediatric dietitians plan menus, incorporating balanced diets supporting healthy nourishment. They also counsel children or parents on healthful eating and basic nutrition.
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Since pediatric nutritionists are RDs, they must earn at least 75 continuing education credits every five years to continue their status, according to the BLS (www.bls.gov). Licensure may be required, depending on the state in which the nutritionist works. Since licensing requirements vary from state-to-state, it is strongly advised that individuals check their state requirements.
An interest in children and their well-being is an essential requirement of this position. Pediatric nutritionists should also have strong teaching and oral communication skills.
Nutritionists-to-be are required to complete a bachelor's degree program in nutrition or dietetics that is accepted by the Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education (CADE). Approved undergraduate programs might include the following course topics:
- Nutrition therapy
- Human anatomy
- Food science
Graduates must complete 6-12 months of hands-on training to be able to sit for the national RD exam. Upon acquiring their RD credential, they can seek certification in pediatrics in order to practice in this specialty, although this is voluntary. According to the American Dietetic Association (ADA), certification can be pursued through its Commission on Dietetic Registration or other organizations focused on nutrition.
Since pediatric nutritionists focus on getting kids to adopt healthy diets, it's important that they are interested in children. Pediatric nutritionists also need excellent communication skills, as they often counsel children and adults about various topics in nutrition. Job growth for this field is expected to be much higher than average for the 2014-2024 decade, according to the BLS.