Dietitian and Nutritionist Overview
Dr. Evelyn Crayton, president of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, started down her career path because, as she puts it, “a man who would be considered sexist now” pointed her in the right direction.
Crayton, who attended Grambling State University in the 1960s, excelled in her science classes and one of her professors wanted to give her some advice. He suggested that, instead of becoming a professor, she should consider home economics because men wanted their women to cook, clean and have children. She wasn’t offended. “This was the ’60s,” Crayton laughs. “We hadn’t become liberated women yet.”
Nonetheless, she took his advice and visited the university’s Institute Management department, where she excelled in dietitian courses that eventually helped her acquire a coveted internship at St. Louis University. Graduate and doctorate degrees followed, as did a career that included clinical jobs, research and mentoring the next generation of professionals.
Crayton wishes her late mother could see her career trajectory. “People told her I was a cook,” she says. “They didn’t really know [what I did as a dietitian and nutritionist.]”
Although these professionals are experts in food and nutrition, they aren’t usually the cooks. Rather, dietitians and nutritionists advise clients how to eat in order to achieve a desired goal, whether that’s losing weight or managing a chronic condition such as diabetes. Their clients might include low-income people who need to eat right on a budget. A large segment of dietitians and nutritionists are employed by hospitals to oversee the food service.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects this profession to grow at a rate of 16 percent between 2014 and 2024, resulting in 11,000 new jobs for dietitians and nutritionists. This job growth is directly related to both the aging population, who is looking to stay healthy, and the increasing obese population, who is seeking help in changing diets and lifestyles.
$56,950 Median Salary
2.9% Unemployment Rate
The majority of dietitians and nutritionists have a bachelor’s degree in dietetics, foods and nutrition, food service systems management, clinical nutrition or a related area, and many professionals in this field have an advanced degree. Critical coursework includes nutrition, psychology, chemistry and biology. Dietitians and nutritionists usually undergo several hundred hours of supervised training through internships and school programs. Most states require licenses for dietitians and nutritionists, although some only require state registration or certification. (A few states have no regulations on this profession.) Many dietitians earn the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist credential, which requires candidates to have a bachelor’s degree and complete a dietetic internship program. Nutritionists may earn the Certified Nutrition Specialist certification, and other certifications are available from the Commission on Dietetic Registration for specialized practices like sports dietetics or pediatric nutrition.
Average Americans work well into their 60s, so workers might as well have a job that’s enjoyable and a career that’s fulfilling. A job with a low stress level, good work-life balance and solid prospects to improve, get promoted and earn a higher salary would make many employees happy. Here’s how this job’s satisfaction is rated in terms of upward mobility, stress level and flexibility.
Upward Mobility. Average
Opportunities for advancements and salary
Stress Level. Average
Work environment and complexities of the job s responsibilities
Flexibility. Above Average
Alternative working schedule and work life balance