Dietitian and Nutritionist

Nutritionists and dietitians advise their clients about nutrition and often coordinate food preparation programs. They are also responsible to recommend diets for people struggling with illness or those seeking to make healthy diet changes. Dieticians frequently consult people struggling with heart disease make dietary changes or those trying to lose weight.

Many dietitians coordinate food preparation programs for schools, hospitals, and other organizations. They also perform research and promote nutrition by teaching classes and seminars. Dietitians can become experts in the following areas: management, community nutrition, or consulting.

Clinical dietitians coordinate and supervise nutrition programs at health care and other facilities. These dietitians determine what types of foods are best for patients, coordinate nutrition plans, and evaluate how the plans affect patients. They also work closely with medical professionals to determine patients' diets. Certain clinical dietitians work exclusively with patients losing weight or overcoming serious illnesses. Clinical dietitians employed at health care facilities are often responsible for supervising the food preparation division.

Community dietitians meet with people to discuss the benefits of eating healthy food. Community dietitians work at health care clinics, HMOs, and home care companies coordinating nutritional programs and teaching people about nutrition. Those working visiting people at their homes may provide tips when shopping for food and teach their clients how to prepare nutritious meals.

Because of public concern about healthy eating, marketing and food production companies are hiring more dieticians. Their main responsibilities include reviewing foods for nutritional quality, preparing information to be used in advertising, and determining the percentages of vitamins and other nutritional indicators in foods.

Management dietitians supervise food preparation at facilities such as cafeterias where large quantities of food is prepared. These dieticians are often responsible to hire staff, order food, and instruct food preparation workers and cooks about food preparation. Management dietitians are also responsible to make sure food is prepared in sanitary kitchens.

Consultant dietitians run their own businesses or are employed by heath care companies. They usually discuss diets with clients desiring to lose weight or manage health problems. Certain consultant dietitians are employed by grocery stores, self wellness organizations, and sporting franchises. They often consult with people responsible for food preparation about proper sanitation, food planning, and menu creation.

Work environment. Nutritionists and dietitians usually spend their days in sanitary, brightly-lit, and properly ventilated environments. Some nutrition professionals spend their days in stuffy, hot food preparation facilities, and most stand for a large portion of the day.

Dietitians and nutritionists usually work 40 hours every week, occasionally working during the weekends. During 2012, one third of nutrition professionals were employed part time.

Career Training and Education

Registered dietitians usually hold bachelor's degrees in dietetics.

There are two kinds of dietetics programs. One program emphasizes classroom learning, followed by an internship lasting a year, while the other combines classroom learning with 900 hours of field work.

After graduating, you'll be qualified to take an exam to become licensed as a dietitian. To remain licensed, you must complete continuing education.

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