A career in health care can be rewarding. Not only do people have the opportunity to choose from a wide variety of careers, but they are able to use their passions in health care to help people work toward their individual health goals. The good news is that you do not have to go to years of medical school in order to work in the health care industry. There are many positions that do not demand as much education and training, and still provide the opportunity to work directly with patients. One of these positions is as a nutritionist, which is also called a Registered Dietitian. This valuable health care team member is integral to the overall health of patients, and does not required medical school for licensing.
What is a Nutritionist and what do they do?
A nutritionist is a trained, licensed health care provider who specializes in advising patients about their nutritional and dietary needs in order to meet health goals. The role of a nutritionist as part of a health care team is to advise patients about their nutritional and dietary needs based on their specific health, circumstances, and goals. In addition to providing one-on-one nutrition guidance, many nutritionists work with facilities to provide advice on mal-planning, such as at a hospital, rehab facility, sports program, or school.
Where does a Nutritionist work?
Nutritionists work in a variety of health care settings, including in hospitals, clinics, and in offices, either alone or with other health care providers. If they are providing consultative services for a facility or organization’s meal-planning, they will work at that facility. However, they may also be on staff at a school, doctor’s office, or another clinic to be part of a patient’s health care team. Wherever there is need for nutrition and dietary guidance, a facility may employ you to fill the role. As a nutritionist, you may also be self-employed rather than taking a position through a facility or organization.
How do I become a Nutritionist?
Like any health care career, nutritionists must go through an educational training program to earn certification to practice. You must have at least a Bachelor’s degree in dietetics or a related field. Once earning their degrees, students must attend an accredited practice program, which typically runs between six and twelve months.
After completing the practice program, nutritionist students sit for the national examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration, the governing body for Registered Dietitians. After passing this exam, nutritionists are officially licensed to practice. However, they must complete continuing education requirements to maintain their licensure.
How much does a Nutritionist make?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nutritionists (Registered Dietitians) earn approximately $55,000 a year or approximately $26 per hour. As with any job, this varies based on education, experience, and location. Some of the variance is due to the demand for nutritionists in certain areas as well as availability. For example, if a small community needs nutritionists but has few, it is likely a person will earn more money in that community, particularly when compared to a large city that has access to a much wider variety available.
What is the job outlook for Nutritionists?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook is good for nutritionists. Between 2012 and 2022, the career field is expected to grow approximately 21 percent, which is higher than average. This is due in part to increased emphasis on individuals getting healthy through a balanced diet and exercise rather than prescriptions and “quick fixes.” As this interest in healthy lifestyles continues to increase, there will be an increasing demand for licensed, experienced nutritionists to guide patients in making healthy choices and lifestyle changes.
What else do I need to know about Nutritionists?
In an effort to make health care and health education more available to people who have limited access, clinics and health care organizations work to bring a strong foundation of health care to their facilities. This includes nutritionists. For those who want to become nutritionists in order to help patients work toward their own health, working on a health care team that focuses on providing car an education to underserved communities can be very rewarding. Not only does this type of work allow you the ability to share their knowledge to help patients, but it is in an area of health care that is growing, which would make jobs available in years to come.
Making the decision to go into the health care industry is a valuable one. Once you decide to pursue a career helping patients achieve their health goals, you can narrow your options to a career that suits your needs and allows you to work with patients without years of medical school. By pursuing a career as a nutritionist, you can work with individuals to help them make healthier nutritional choices, which will lead to greater overall health.