How to Become a Dietitian – Overview
A healthy lifestyle leads to a healthy and disease-free life. And it starts with a healthy diet, we are what we eat! Most people have adopted a modern lifestyle full of busy schedules, fast food, no workouts, etc. You must adopt a healthy lifestyle by taking proper nutrition-rich foods and looking after your health.
There’s a profession that helps people live a healthy life i.e. a dietitian. How to become a dietitian? – Let’s find out the answer!
What is a Dietitian?
A dietitian is an expert who looks after the nutritional value of human beings. They are responsible for regulating the number of nutrients in the human body. They advise people about their diet and help them lose weight, balance diabetes, improve their overall health, etc.
According to a recent survey, there is a good career opportunity in this field as employment in this particular field is expected to increase by 10% in the coming years. If you are interested in dietetics, then this guide will help you know everything about this career.
How Does a Dietitian Work?
A dietitian is a registered professional who is an expert in food and nutrition. They help patients manage their diseases and help them live healthy lives. A dietitian prepares a diet chart as per the health status of the patient. One has to follow the diet chart suggested by the dietitian to improve the lifestyle.
Not just diseased people, but normal people also consult dietitians to achieve their health goals. Yes, a registered dietitian certainly helps achieve your health goal. We invite life-threatening diseases by not following a proper diet. When we approach a dietitian, he will guide us about our daily diet.
If we talk about the US, a registered dietitian is a nationally-recognized profession. They are certified by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. They are expert professionals with a better understanding of nutritional values in different types of foods. After getting the certifications and registration, they can start practicing.
How to Become a Dietitian?
Dietitians can work independently or under the hospital as per the years of practice they have done. A trained dietitian runs his clinic to counsel patients about diet and nutrition. Before you know about the area of work, let’s see how you can become a certified dietitian!
You can become a certified dietitian by completing these five steps. Each step is crucial to earning a certification.
Step 1: Bachelor’s Degree
You have to complete your education and earn a bachelor’s degree in one of the following fields.
- Foods and Nutrition
- Public health nutrition
- Clinical Nutrition
Students need to gain knowledge about the nutritional facts and values of the food items that come from different groups. Know about the food service systems and how modern life affects overall health, etc. The programs one chooses to earn the bachelor’s degree must be accredited by an organization tied up with the government.
Step 2: Internship
Just like any other degree, you need to complete an internship in your field first. This will help you understand how the fieldwork works in real. The clinical experience makes you a complete dietitian as you will get to meet real people and follow their diets, help them follow proper diets, etc.
A student must complete an internship of 1200 hours under the supervision of a professional and certified dietitian. Every student needs to complete this internship program to earn their license.
Step 3: Registration Process
To become a registered dietitian, one has to complete the registration examination. The registration examination is administered by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Commission. The exam contains 125 to 145 questions based on the dietetics fields which covers food service system, management of nutrition program, basics of nutrition care, dietetic principles, etc.
Step 4: Apply for State License
Each state follows a different procedure here. Even if you have passed the registration examination, you must obtain a state license from the registered department to get a job in the field. The Commission of Dietetic Registration looks after this process where they provide and passed a state license to a registered dietitian who has completed and passed out the Registration Examination.
Step 5: Final Certification
You can start your fieldwork after obtaining a state license. A completely registered dietitian requires a certification from the Board for Certification of Nutrition Specialists. A candidate must earn certification from this board to become a certified dietitian specialist.
The final certification process requires you to complete a bachelor’s degree, at least 1,000 hours of internship under a professional dietitian, and completion of the final certification examination.
Where do Dietitians Work?
The area of specialty of each dietitian is different. They are certified professionals who help patients follow a healthy diet program. Dietitians can work in different fields as per their experience degree.
Certified dietitians can work in hospitals initially, can provide counseling to independent individuals, can set up their clinics, can tie up with schools and universities, can work with organizations, can work with big enterprises to help their employees live a healthy life, etc.
Do I have to Complete the Advanced Degree?
If you want to become a Certified Nutrition Specialist, you will have to obtain a Master’s Degree or Doctoral Degree in the same field. The need for an advanced degree is based on the employer’s needs. Most employers hire dietitians without the Cerfieid Nutrition Specialist tag which requires a Master’s Degree.
A certified nutrition specialist can run an independent clinic. The value of a Cerfieid Nutrition Specialist is higher than the normal dietitians who have just completed their Bachelor’s Degree.
The Bottom Line:
The requirements in the dietitian’s field are increasing day by day. Job security in this field is higher than in others as it depends on your area of interest. If you have a caring nature and want to help others, then this field gives you both, money and peace of mind.
Dietitians are made to improve the lives of others, they also earn blessings from their patients and not just money.