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Nutrition Science

Nutrition Career and Training Profile
Nutrition Schools

Nutrition Science

Nutritionist vs Dietician...What's the Difference?
According to the American Dietetics Association (ADA), the titles of registered dietitian (RD) and dietetic technician, registered (DTR) can only be used by dietetics practitioners who are currently authorized to use the credential by the Commission on Dietetic Registration of the American Dietetic Association. These are legally protected titles. Individuals with these credentials have completed specific academic and supervised practice requirements, successfully completed a registration examination and maintained requirements for recertification.

Some RDs or DTRs call themselves nutritionists. However, the definition and requirements for the term "nutritionist" vary. Some states have licensure laws that define the scope of practice for someone using the designation nutritionist. Nutritionists are more inclined to be professionals not involved in the feeding of people, but rather more focused on research and development, teaching, and production of foods. However, many people use the two terms interchangeably.

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Dietitian/Nutritionist Job Description
Dietitians and nutritionists plan food and nutrition programs, supervise meal preparation, and oversee the serving of meals. They prevent and treat illnesses by promoting healthy eating habits and recommending dietary modifications. For example, dietitians might teach a patient with high blood pressure how to use less salt when preparing meals, or create a diet reduced in fat and sugar for an overweight patient.

Dietitians manage food service systems for institutions such as hospitals and schools, promote sound eating habits through education, and conduct research. Many dietitians specialize, becoming a clinical dietitian, community dietitian, management dietitian, or consultant.

Clinical dietitians provide nutritional services to patients in hospitals, nursing care facilities, and other institutions. They assess patients' nutritional needs, develop and implement nutrition programs, and evaluate and report the results. They also confer with doctors and other health care professionals to coordinate medical and nutritional needs. Some clinical dietitians specialize in managing the weight of overweight patients or in the care of renal (kidney), diabetic, or critically ill patients. In addition, clinical dietitians in nursing care facilities, small hospitals, or correctional facilities may manage the food service department.

Community dietitians counsel individuals and groups on nutritional practices designed to prevent disease and promote health. Working in places such as public health clinics, home health agencies, and health maintenance organizations, community dietitians evaluate individual needs, develop nutritional care plans, and instruct individuals and their families. Dietitians working in home health agencies provide instruction on grocery shopping and food preparation to the elderly, children, and individuals with special needs.

Increased public interest in nutrition has led to job opportunities in food manufacturing, advertising, and marketing. In these areas, dietitians analyze foods, prepare literature for distribution, or report on issues such as dietary fiber, vitamin supplements, or the nutritional content of recipes.

Management dietitians oversee large-scale meal planning and preparation in health care facilities, company cafeterias, prisons, and schools. They hire, train, and direct other dietitians and food service workers; budget for and purchase food, equipment, and supplies; enforce sanitary and safety regulations; and prepare records and reports.

Consultant dietitians work under contract with health care facilities or in their own private practice. They perform nutrition screenings for their clients and offer advice on diet-related concerns such as weight loss and cholesterol reduction. Some work for wellness programs, sports teams, supermarkets, and other nutrition-related businesses. They may consult with food service managers, providing expertise in sanitation, safety procedures, menu development, budgeting, and planning.

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Nutrition Career Outlook

Employment of dietitians and nutritionists is projected to grow 16 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. In recent years, interest in the role of food and nutrition in promoting health and wellness has increased, particularly as a part of preventative healthcare in medical settings.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than one-third of U.S. adults are obese. Many diseases, such as diabetes and kidney disease, are associated with obesity. The importance of diet in preventing and treating illnesses is now well known. More dietitians and nutritionists will be needed to provide care for people with these conditions. In addition, there will be demand for dietitians in grocery stores to help consumers make healthy food choices.

As the baby-boom generation grows older and looks for ways to stay healthy, there will be more demand for dietetic services. Also, an aging population will increase the need for dietitians and nutritionists in nursing homes.

Nutrition Salary
The median annual wage for dietitians and nutritionists was $57,910 in May 2015. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $35,240, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $80,950.

In May 2015, the median annual wages for dietitians and nutritionists in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Outpatient care centers $62,330
Hospitals; state, local, and private 58,500
Nursing and residential care facilities 57,480
Government 55,490
Accommodation and food services 54,770

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Nutrition Education and Training
There are accredited programs throughout the United States at many colleges and universities for becoming a nutritionist. Since nutritionists are required to have a Bachelor's Degree, attending a four-year institution of higher learning is a must.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, a nutritionist can have a Bachelor's Degree in any of the following: Dietetics, Foods and Nutrition, Food Service Systems Management or a related field. The Department of Labor states that they must have had courses in the following areas: foods, nutrition, institutional management, chemistry, biochemistry, biology, microbiology, and physiology. It is also suggested that they have classes in business, statistics, computer science, psychology, sociology and economics.

Many programs also require a designated number of hours of supervised experience in a health care setting, similar to an internship.

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Professional Certification
he Department of Labor maintains that 46 states have some kind of law regarding the standards for nutritionists. Of these 46 states, 30 require licensure, 15 require certification, and 1 requires registration with the state upon graduation from an accredited program. Since requirements vary from state to state, it is a good idea to check out what the requirements are for your state before beginning a program.

Nutrition Professional Organizations

American Dietetic Association
120 S Riverside Plaza, Ste. 2000
Chicago, IL 60606-6995
(800) 877-1600

American Society for Nutrition
9650 Rockville Pike, Ste. 4500
Bethesda, MD 20814-3990
(301) 634-7050

Consultant Dietitians in Health Care Facilities
2219 Cardinal Dr.
Waterloo, IA 50701
(319) 235-0991

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