Dietitians and Nutritionists

Registered dietitians (RDs) are professionals who have met certain educational requirements and passed a national certification exam. For the purposes of this article, the terms dietitian and registered dietitian will be used interchangeably. RDs provide people with foods and dietary advice that will improve or maintain their health. They may be self-employed or work for institutions, such as hospitals, schools, restaurants, and nursing homes—any place where food is served or nutritional counseling is required. Hospital dietitians, for example, may ensure that the food served in the cafeteria is nourishing or create special diets for patients with particular nutritional problems and needs.

Regulation of those using the professional title nutritionist varies by state. For example, in some states a person without any specialized training may be able to call himself or herself a nutritionist and offer dietary advice. For the purposes of this article, however, the term nutritionist refers to certified clinical nutritionists (CCNs) who have received specialized training and passed a certification exam. CCNs usually work in private practice and are concerned with the biochemical aspects of nutrition.

There are approximately 59,530 dietitians and nutritionists working in the United States.

Quick Facts
Duties Plan and oversee food education and nutrition programs; conduct research on nutrition- and dietary-related topics
Alternate Title(s) Administrative Dietitians, Certified Clinical Nutritionists, Community Dietitians, Consultant Dietitians, Hospital Dietitians, Management Dietitians, Registered Dietitians, Research Dietitians, Teaching Dietitians
Salary Range $25,000 to $100,000
Employment Prospects Good
Advancement Prospects Good
Work Environment Primarily Indoors
Best Geographical Location(s) Nationwide; most opportunities available in large, metropolitan areas
Education and Training
  • Bachelor's Degree
Related School Subjects
  • Chemistry
  • Family and Consumer Science
  • Health
Experience Internship
  • Leadership
  • Scientific
  • Teaching
Personality Traits
  • Helpful
  • Problem-Solving
  • Technical
Licensure/Certification Required
Special Requirements None
Career Ladder
  • Department Manager or Professor
  • Dietitian/Nutritionist
  • Intern or Assistant

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