Dietitians typically need a bachelor's degree, along with supervised training through an internship. Many states require dietitians to have a bachelor's degree. Moreover, different dietitians have different areas of expertise, and there are many levels of dietitians. So when you want to become a professional dietitian, you need to carefully choose your field of expertise and pass the grade examination by your own efforts.
Step 1: Understand dietitian description and responsibilities
If you want to be a dietitian, you should first know what the job is for and what a dietitian does. Dietitians are experts in the use of food and nutrition to promote health and manage disease. They advise people on what to eat in order to lead a healthy lifestyle or achieve a specific health-related goal. Many dietitians provide customized information for specific individuals. For example, a dietitian might teach a client with diabetes how to plan meals to balance the client's blood sugar. Others work with groups of people who have similar needs. For example, a dietitian or nutritionist might plan a diet with healthy fat and limited sugar to help clients who are at risk for heart disease. They may work with other health-care professionals to coordinate patient care.
- Assess patients' and clients' health needs and diet
- Counsel patients on nutrition issues and healthy eating habits
- Develop meal plans, taking both cost and clients' preferences into account
- Evaluate the effects of meal plans and change the plans as needed
- Promote better nutrition by speaking to groups about diet, nutrition, and the relationship between good eating habits and preventing or managing specific diseases
- Keep up with the latest nutritional science research
- Write reports to document patient progress
Step 2: Think before you do: whether is it worth to be a dietitian
Before you decide to be a dietitian, you should first understand whether it is worth being a dietitian for you or no, because it will bring you both advantages and disadvantages.
There are several benefits that dietitian can bring to you:
1. You can choose the management side if you wish. The possible options you have include hospital food-service management, supermarket dietitian, consultant for nursing homes (menu planning, elder-care regulations, etc.).
2. You have the option of being a private practice RD, which means you can see individual patients in your office or their homes. You might combine being a certified yoga instructor or private trainer to go with your degree. Private practice RDs also do less "therapeutic" options like practice management, website development, social media consulting for other dietitians, menu consulting for restaurants who focus on wellness, etc.
3. Research shows that you are able to save the health-care system a lot of money, like when you see diabetics in a clinic setting. You can prevent those patients from landing back in the hospital for an expensive stay.
In the same way, the career of dietitians may be bothering you in the following ways:
1. The schooling is intense and may be expensive. Today, the trend is to require a master's degree before you can take the exam to be an RD (a master's used to be optional). Keep in mind that if you do an M.S./Dietetic Internship combined program, you may be able to receive pay for your work in the laboratory or assisting a professor. This eases the expenses to some extent. Try to choose an economical school & one with a very strong state "Agricultural Experiment Station" to gain employment. Also check housing costs, etc. in the places you might attend.
2. If you work in a hospital or clinic setting, very few types of nutrition care are reimbursable to the patient (through insurance or Medicare, Medicaid). This means an out-of-pocket cost that not everyone is able to do. The reimbursable areas generally are diabetes care, renal care (could be in a dialysis unit) and sometimes others. Other reimbursable areas might be if you work in a burn unit or critical care (where if the patient does not have you there, they may die). If you want to do something in these areas, you will need additional certification after you pass your R.D. exam.
3. You will need to explain to people what you do. They may think you only know how to cook!
4. You may not get respect for knowing all the chemistry and biochemistry that is part of your education. I recommend a healthy self-esteem if you want to be an R.D. Your abilities may be under-estimated; you will need some excellent 3-minute elevator speeches to market yourself.
Step 3: Research Best colleges and universities for dietitian
- University of Pennsylvania
- King's College London
- University of Toronto
- Johns Hopkins University
- The University of Leeds
- Yale University
- University of Technology Sydney
- Monash University
- University of Washington
- National University of Singapore (NUS)
- Newcastle University
- University of Michigan
- University of California, San Francisco
- University of Southampton
- University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
- The University of Sydney
- University of Pittsburgh
- University of Alberta
- Surrey University
- Duke University
Step 4: Go through College
University can help you to learn about nutrition systematically. You can contact many professionals and cutting-edge knowledge in University, which is the incomparable advantage for those who choose to not go to university. Many professional dietitian schools offer students a lot of high-quality courses and will award students bachelor's degrees and master's degrees when they meet the graduation requirements. Overall, studying at university is very important to become a professional dietitian. It can help you learn all kinds of related knowledge systematically and lay a solid foundation for your future career.
Step 5: Internship Opportunity
Systematic learning in university is the basis of becoming a dietitian. Most dietitians complete a minimum of seven years' training at the university level. During college, while learning the necessary knowledge, you should seize the opportunity to do some related part-time work, and improve your ability through practice at the same time. You can search for relevant part-time dietitian interns through some websites dedicated to that and you can also learn about relevant part-time information through the employment service center of the school. When choosing part-time jobs, you should try to choose jobs closely related to your knowledge and major, to increase your experience and improve your ability.
Step 6: Prepare relevant skills for dietitian
Analytical skills: Dietitians and nutritionists must keep up to date with the latest food and nutrition research. They should interpret scientific studies and translate nutrition science into practical eating advice.
Compassion: Dietitians and nutritionists must be caring and empathetic when helping clients address health and dietary issues and any related emotions.
Listening skills: Dietitians and nutritionists must listen carefully to understand clients' goals and concerns. They may work with other health-care workers as part of a team to improve the health of a patient, and they need to listen to team members when constructing eating plans.
Organizational skills: Because there are many aspects to the work of dietitians and nutritionists, they should stay organized. Management dietitians, for example, must consider the nutritional needs of their clients, the costs of meals, and access to food. Self-employed dietitians and nutritionists may need to schedule appointments, manage employees, bill insurance companies, and maintain patient files.
Problem-solving skills: Dietitians and nutritionists must evaluate the health status of patients and determine the most appropriate food choices for a client to improve his or her overall health or manage a disease.
Speaking skills: Dietitians and nutritionists must explain complicated topics in a way that people with less technical knowledge can understand. They must clearly explain eating plans to clients and to other healthcare professionals involved in a patient's care.
Step7: find relevant dietitian jobs and apply it
Where can I find relevant jobs? If you're ready to become a dietitian，you may want to know where to find a relevant job. There are many ways to find a suitable job for you, online or in the job fairs organized by your university or other universities. You can also check out https://jobs.salary.com/. You will find many interesting job opportunities.
Important Tools for a successful dietitian
Advanced knowledge and excellent ability are the keys to becoming a professional dietitian. They can help you develop a variety of career paths and obtain a high salary.
Develop your career path
Employment of dietitians and nutritionists is projected to grow 11 percent from 2018 to 2028, 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 in the context of preventive health care in the medical field.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than one-third of U.S. adults suffer from obesity. Many diseases, such as diabetes and heart problem, 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.
Moreover, as the baby-boom generation grows older and looks for ways to stay healthy, there will be more demand for dietetic and nutrition services. In addition, there will be demand for dietitians and nutritionists in grocery stores to help consumers make healthy food choices. This shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of dietitians and nutritionists, such as Registered Nurses, Health Educators and Community Health Workers, Rehabilitation Counselors.