For those who are looking for a career in the Health and Wellness field, becoming a Dietitian or a Nutritionist can be both lucrative and rewarding. Often the two terms are used interchangeably but they actually are two different jobs. A Dietitian may be defined as 1) an expert in nutrition and 2) one who advises people on healthy eating and lifestyle, to achieve a health related goal. A Registered Dietitian must meet requirements academically ,including a bachelor’s degree in an accredited program, a passed state exam, and an internship in an approved healthcare facility. Requirements vary from state to state and country to country so those who are interested would do well to write and to visit a number of colleges and then decide what specialty area they are most interested in.
Clinical Dietitians work in hospitals, and nursing care facilities. Community Dietitians work in wellness programs and public health agencies. Food Service Dietitians are responsible for large food planning and service in prisons, restaurants, and school cafeterias. Gerontological Dietitians specialize in nutrition as it applies to the elderly. They may work in nursing home facilities, hospitals, and home health agencies. Neonatal Dietitians work with the nutritional needs of premature and often critically ill newborns. They are often considered part of a Neonatal Intensive Care Team. They can also work in Pediatrics, in research, management positions and as consultants to businesses or under contract or in private practice.
So how do they vary from the Nutritionist?
A Nutritionist may be defined as one who advises on matter of diet and health. Because it is not strictly regulated by all states uniformly, the two definitions do overlap. However, one school offered this quote… “All Dietitians are Nutritionists, but not all Nutritionists are Dietitians.” Therefore, the best training will come from qualified schools or colleges that offer accredited programs that will best prepare you for any specialty area you desire.
According to the B.L.S., jobs for Nutritionists are expected to grow 21% through 2022, and the National average for all jobs for the same period is 11%.
A search has shown that there are many accredited colleges, many with on-line curriculums. Only by researching what each program has to offer can a choice be made. Some examples:
The American College of Healthcare Sciences, the first college that I spoke with, quoted $460 per credit hour for post graduate classes, and $315 for undergrads. They offer Holistic Nutrition and other holistic courses. They rank as one of the top 15% military friendly schools in the U.S.
Kaplan University offers a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition Science and focuses on pharmacology and the principles of nutrition, and dietary choices can create a healthier lifestyle,also they instill an understanding of food metabolism in their students. This is a four year course, and it is taught on-line. As with pretty much any other school, financial aid is available. They have a special military program and benefits. The tuition is $371 per credit, but your books are included in this fee. There is no need to go to the campus, as the whole course is taught on-line.
Pacific Rim College of complementary and Integrative Medicine also has on-line classes. They offer a Diploma of Holistic Nutrition. It is a six semester program that studies the medicinal use of North American and European herbs. The program is comprised of both theoretical and practical studies. It is possible to obtain a Dual Degree of Phytotherapy and Holistic Nutrition. It is a 5 year program that combines the Diploma of Phytotherapy with the Diploma of Holistic Nutrition. Among their other offerings is a 4 month program that introduces its students to the world of plants and their medicinal use within various cultures.
Arizona State University offers an Online Bachelor of Science in Nutrition program. This is a four-year program (120 credit hours) and the tuition per credit hour is $709. All books and materials are included in the program and everything is online. Arizona State University’s online bachelor of science in nutrition prepares students for careers in food production, service management, marketing and journalism around health and wellness topics.
Arizona State University offers an Online Master of Science in Nutrition Dietetics program. This is a one-year program (30 credit hours) and the tuition per credit hour is $766. All books and materials are included in the program and everything is online. The online MS in Nutrition (Dietetics) is based on scientific foundations of nutrition and reinforces essential skills in project management, interpretation of research literature, critical inquiry and problem-solving. Offered by ASU’s School of Nutrition and Health Promotion, this non-thesis program is available only to registered dietitians with at least one year of experience.
There are a wide range of schools, colleges and programs for Dietitians and Nutritionists. It is a field of study that can be lucrative, yes, but most importantly, with it, one can educate others to avoid serious health problems, and possibly live longer, happier lives. An incredible return on your investment.