How to Start Your Career as a Registered Dietitian
Are you an active advocate for healthy eating? Do you know more about food types, nutritional value and nutritional benefits more than an ordinary person? Do you follow scientific studies and research about nutrition closely? Are you interested in becoming a registered dietitian practicing for a renowned organization? If you answered yes to all of these questions, then it’s time you considered pursuing a career as a nutrition professional.Specifically, as a Registered Dietitian.
Being a registered dietitian is a great career option that has gained precedence over the last decade. In fact, according to recent stats, the demand for registered dietitians is on the rise and there is a projected growth of up to 16% for the next five years. So if you’re ready to take on this field, here are a few essentials you need to know.
Obtain a Degree in Nutrition
To kick start your career as a registered dietitian, you need to have a four-year bachelor’s degree in nutrition, food system management, and relevant study areas. However, the degree will only facilitate your journey into the world of nutrition. If you want to specifically direct your career into that of a registered dietitian, you will need to obtain credentialing as a registered dietitian.
2. Pathways to becoming a Registered Dietitian
If your goal is to be a dietitian and work in a healthcare facility or a hospital, then it is necessary to pursue a RD certification granted by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Do note though that the academy grants this certification only to graduates of programs approved by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). To earn the certificate you will have to complete a 6 to 12 month internship program and pass an exam following which you will be eligible to hold a job as a registered dietitian.
3. Getting Certified According to Your State
Most states require that nutritionists and dietitians be licensed in order to practice. It is not enough to obtain your RD credential, you should study the requirements in your state and seek the appropriate license needed to practice. Visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to know the specific requirements of each state.
4. Decide the Specialization You Want to Master
Nutrition care is a huge field and it is generally not advisable to practice it on a broad scale. The best nutrition experts are those who specialize in a certain category of nutrition care. The segmentation is based on the audience you are comfortable working with and the type of nutrition program you want to pursue. So if for example, you’re a fitness trainer who wants to help people lose weight with customized diet plans, you can pursue a specialization in weight loss management. If you’re a sports trainer, you can specialize in sports nutrition. With the combination of your sports nutrition certification and your sports trainer certification, you are absolutely in demand.
5. Gain on-Field Experience
Once you have your degrees and certifications, look for employment in your preferred field. If this is your first time working as a nutrition professional, start at a place where you will have ample opportunity to grow. Do not rush to become a supervisor or establish a nutrition business without gaining on-field experience. The knowledge you accumulate is not as helpful on its own, but backed with at least 3 years of professional experience, will be very advantageous. While you’re working as a professional, also begin establishing your personal brand and build your persona as an expert in your field. Not only is this great for your career, but will also help you earn an edge over other professionals in your circle.
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