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How to become a Dietician

Majors Overview November 7, 2012

There is a big job market for dieticians. In this article, we will show you the steps in becoming a dietician.

Dieticians share their expertise in nutritional health by advising people about what they should eat to ensure a healthy lifestyle.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has ruled that being employed as a dietician; a person must have a bachelor degree, or complete an internship including hundreds of hours of practical experience under supervision. Additionally, the potential dietician must meet requirements necessary for state certification or licensure.

Students can either enroll in a didactic program in dietetics (DPD) or in a coordinated program (CP) in dietetics and must do so in a school accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND).

They can earn a bachelor degree by enrolling in a didactic program in dietetics, while a coordinated program enrollment will give them supervised experience, in addition classroom work leading to a bachelor degree.

Thereafter, the students must apply to and complete an accredited internship program. The bachelor degree could be in any food service systems management, dietetics, and foods and nutrition. Most states require licensure or certification in addition to one to two years experiences. The student is required to demonstrate strong people skills, communication and organizational skills (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).

The first step is to enroll in a coordinated program or didactic program in dietetics to earn a bachelor degree. Subjects such as foods and nutrition, nutritional sciences, food service systems management and dietetics pre-dominate coursework that mainly focuses on nutrition science, psychology, biology and chemistry. Those who enroll into coordinated program will not need to do a separate dietetic internship and able to take the licensing examination.

However, completion of internship is compulsory for students opting for a didactic program in dietetics; alternatively, they can enroll for an ACEND-accredited training program following their graduation. Such a program will typically require about 1,200 hours of practice under supervision spanning eight to twenty-four months. Students are advised to consult faculty members and the program director of their didactic program in dietetics to get information about where and how to apply for the DI program.

The final step is licensure or certification. Many states insist on licensure while others allow dieticians to practice with certification, while others have no regulations at all.

Licensure is best achieved by becoming a registered dietician (RD), though this is not required in some states. To become a registered dietician you must complete your bachelor degree and successfully complete a supervised practice program; thereafter, take a registered computer-based exam for dieticians. Menu planning, nutrition diagnosis, medical monitoring, evaluation and nutrition screening, and assessment are the areas of knowledge that you will be tested.

Even after becoming licensed or certified, a registered dietician can maintain his/her credentials and enhance career growth with continued education.

Dietetics and Clinical Nutrition Statistics

dietetics jobs

Top Schools For Dietetics and Clinical Nutrition Programs

School Name Tuition Size Degrees Granted Degrees Granted By Type
Florida State University
Tallahassee, FL
$19,011 30,803 115 Bachelor’s (96), Master’s (19)
Northern Illinois University
Dekalb, IL
$18,410 18,277 102 Bachelor’s (83), Master’s (19)
Cal State Long Beach
Long Beach, CA
$15,530 29,348 102 Bachelor’s (91), Master’s (11)
San Diego State University
San Diego, CA
$16,062 26,796 100 Bachelor’s (89), Master’s (11)
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI
$27,343 36,489 93 Bachelor’s (93)
Cal State Los Angeles
Los Angeles, CA
$17,255 15,857 91 Bachelor’s (60), Master’s (31)
Cal Poly
San Luis Obispo, CA
$19,071 17,725 86 Bachelor’s (86)
University of Northern Colorado
Greeley, CO
$18,145 9,973 85 Bachelor’s (85)
West Chester Univ. of PA
West Chester, PA
$17,634 11,920 78 Bachelor’s (78)
San Jose State University
San Jose, CA
$17,988 24,280 76 Bachelor’s (44), Master’s (32)

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