Career Options for Dietitians
The Health and Nutrition Sciences Department (foods and nutrition concentration) prepares students for careers in the field of dietetics and nutrition. The program provides students with the necessary training to meet the requirements of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Acccreditation Counsel for Education (ACEND) for a Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD). The curriculum satisfies part of the requirement to enable students to become registered dietitians (RDs). DPD graduates work in health care facilities, community programs, public policy, private practice and research settings. The following career options are available to both DPD graduates and registered dietitians:
Food service directors are responsible for food production in institutions such as hospitals, nursing homes, schools, restaurants and nutrition intervention programs such as Head Start, Meals on Wheels, God's Love We Deliver and senior centers.
Community nutritionists counsel individuals and groups on sound nutrition practices to prevent disease and to promote good health. They are employed in Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs); human service agencies, including Women, Infants and Children's Program (WIC); Prenatal Care Assistance Program (PCAP) and community health clinics.
Wellness and disease prevention is a concern in the United States today, and many people seek the advice of nutrition experts. Nutritionists in private practice offer nutrition counseling in areas such as fitness and weight control, disease prevention and nutritional therapy.
Consulting nutritionists disseminate information to the public through various channels, such as speaking at seminars, writing articles, and appearing on radio and television. Nutrition consultants also take on various projects: product consulting, evaluation of existing food and nutrition programs, health and fitness programs, public relations and part-time counseling.
Researchers determine the nutritional status and requirements for healthy people and those with acute or chronic diseases. They evaluate the efficacy of nutritional intervention in the prevention of specific diseases and develop and test effective methods to change dietary behavior in the community.
For additional information on career opportunities in nutrition and dietetics, visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Nutrition and Dietetics Career Opportunities
The bachelor of science degree with a concentration in food and nutrition prepares you for entry-level positions such as foods writer for a magazine or newspaper or a consumer relations specialist in the food industry. If, after graduation, you go on to complete clinical training requirements and are eligible to take the Registration Examination for Dietitians, you expand your career choices considerably. Once you are a registered dietitian, you have a wider range of opportunities and are qualified for higher positions in therapeutic or management dietetics in hospitals, nursing homes, community nutrition programs, businesses and other types of agencies.
As a registered dietitian, you may:
- Counsel adults to reduce disease risk factors
- Help expectant mothers to improve their diets and to have healthy babies
- Organize home-delivery meals for senior citizens
- Help accident victims to recover from critical injuries
- Develop menus and recipes for food companies or national publications
- Counsel professional athletes on eating habits that help them to maintain a competitive edge
- Teach preschool children about healthful eating habits
Jobs obtained by graduates include the following:
- Nutrition teachers in schools
- Nutrition educators in community agencies
- Clinical dietitians or managers of nutrition programs in hospitals, nursing homes, schools and other agencies
- Counselors of patients with chronic conditions
- Members of clinical specialty teams in pediatrics, family medicine, surgery, critical care medicine and other services
- Staff members of private sector agencies such as the American Heart Association
- Staff members of local and state health departments
- Staff members of federal agencies, such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
- Project officers for private foundations
- Food writers, editors and media consultants
- Product development staff in food companies
- Owners and managers of restaurants and catering firms
- Clinical nutrition manager
- Clinical dietitians
- HIV specialists
- School food service manager