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Dawn Rosenberg McKay

Weekly Career Profile: Dietitians and Nutritionists

By May 29, 2013

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One week you hear reports on the news that warn against eating foods with too much sodium. Then the following week you are told that consuming two much sugar is dangerous. Are you tempted to start a diet of cardboard only? I am. Bland, tasteless and with lots of fiber, cardboard has it all. Of course I'm joking but it does get so confusing with all the conflicting reports telling us what to eat less of and what should be a bigger part of our diets. Who knows what is best to eat? Dietitians and nutritionists do. They know what foods are good for us and which ones are bad. They plan food and nutrition programs in schools, hospitals, nursing homes, restaurants, cruise ships and spas. They also teach communities healthy eating habits.

If you want to become a dietitian or nutritionist, you will need to earn a bachelor's degree. You have several choices as far as what you can major in. Your choices include, for example, dietetics, foods and nutrition, culinary nutrition or food service systems management. You can attend an accredited program and fulfill certain requirements in order to become a registered dietitian (RD). You don't have to, but doing so will open up many more job opportunities. Job growth in this field will be faster than the average for all occupations through 2020 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition).

Before you make a commitment to becoming a dietitian or nutritionist, you must do your homework. Gather some basic information by first reading Dietitian and Nutritionist: Career Information. You'll learn about job duties, earnings and advancement opportunities. Then read How to Become a Dietitian to learn about entry-level job requirements.

Next, a firsthand account of life as a dietitian and nutritionist can help you see beyond what a simple job description can provide. Find out what some of our readers who work in this field have to say by reading our Real Life of a Dietitian and Nutritionist submissions. Take the Should You Become a Dietitian? quiz to help you decide if this career is a good fit for you.

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