Choosing to follow a career as a nutritionist or dietitian can be extremely rewarding. As a nutritionist or dietitian, you will be responsible for creating healthy, well-balanced eating plans for schools, sports teams, hospitals, or in private practice. These healthy dietary plans can also be used to help manage weight, and treat and prevent various health complications. While these careers are rewarding, especially when you can see your patient health improving, it should be noted that there are differences between the two professions. All licensed dietitians are also considered nutritionists, but not nutritionists can be considered dietitians, and it is important to understand the differences between the two before you choose a career.
A Career as a Nutritionist or Dietitian
If you enjoy helping people and are already interested in eating healthier, a career as a nutritionist or dietician might be perfect for you. These careers concentrate on creating nutritious, well-balanced meals for patients or groups and watching someone’s health improve due to the dietary plans you create can be an extremely rewarding experience. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is also predicting an increasing need for employees in this field, which makes it an excellent time for you to consider the enrolling school.
Before you decide to pursue a career as a nutritionist or dietitian, it is important to understand the differences between these professions. A dietitian is registered and has received a certificate stating that they have completed the necessary course requirements. While nutritionists are capable of working out healthy diet plans, the lack of any formally recognized schooling can limit your career options. Many dietitians do start out as nutritionists and work their way through the class work while also learning on the job. There are also several areas you can choose to specialize in, which can make it easier to find a career that you love.
What Type of Salary You Can Expect
With the Bureau of Labor Statistics expecting a 21 percent increase in the number of available jobs for registered dieticians and nutritionists, the average yearly salary has also gone up in recent years. While some states like California do pay more, you also want to factor in the cost of living before you have your heart set on working in the particular area. Recent statistics released by the Labor Bureau estimate that the average salary of registered dietitians is $55.9 thousand, with some dietary experts earning up to $78.7 thousand. There are some rural areas where the average pay is significantly less, but this is often offset by a lower cost of living. You also have the advantage of being able to work specifically in one area of nutrition, which can help increase your average annual salary.
Necessary Education for a Nutritionist or Dietitian
While it is not necessary for a nutritionist to have a licensed or be certified to work with patients, in some states, it is mandatory for all dietitians. Most dietary workers do have a four year Bachelor’s degree in nutrition, and some may also specialize in certain areas. Some of the classes you can expect to be required to pass will include nutrition, chemistry, psychology, and biology. You will also be required to go through hundreds of hours of extensive training, which is one reason why some nutritionists choose to continue their education while they’re working.
While your class work is vital to becoming a successful dietitian or nutritionist, you also want to consider your personality. Throughout your classes, you will also learn how to be firm with your patients concerning their eating habits, even when you are afraid of hurting their feelings. Since it is your job to help patients improve their health, partially through their eating habits, you have to be strong enough to stand up to someone’s tears and to beg.
With more people starting to pay attention to how their eating habits affect their health, there has never been a better time to consider a rewarding career as a dietitian or a nutritionist. With an average salary that can easily provide you with a comfortable lifestyle, along with plenty of job security it is easy to see why this is becoming a popular career option. Helping to improve other peoples’ health through nutritional plans that you created can also be a rewarding experience, and if you are interested in a career as a dietitian or nutritionist your health care provider can help you get started.