What Do Dietitians and Nutritionists Do?
Dietitians and nutritionists create and implement food programs to help clients maintain a healthy lifestyle and control disease. These plans focus on nutrition and may include diets that are free of chemicals, low in carbohydrates or that omit certain foods. Many dietitians and nutritionists also counsel clients, work in hospitals or nursing homes or conduct research on nutrition.
Dietitians and Nutritionists Skills and Abilities
Dietitians and nutritionists must be personable and sensitive in order to foster good relationships with clients. Some individuals have trouble talking about their struggles with weight and food, so you must be understanding and patient.You will need excellent active listening and critical thinking skills, which assist you in understanding your clients’ problems and using a logical thought process to come up with solutions. Other necessary abilities include:
- Ability to monitor clients’ performance
- Reading comprehension skills
- Clear speaking voice
Dietitians and Nutritionists Duties
The main duties of dietitians and nutritionists include establishing and maintaining relationships with clients, obtaining information about their situation and using relevant knowledge to come up with a nutrition plan that acts as a solution to the problem.As a dietitian or nutritionist, you will assess your clients’ nutritional needs, determine if there are restrictions due to situations such as allergies or religious beliefs and create a personalized plan for them to follow. You will meet with them regularly to ensure they are following the plan. You will then determine if it’s working or if it needs modification. A dietitian’s goal is to educate people on healthy living, so you must be able to explain why you chose a plan and how it will benefit the individual.Instead of working with individuals, you may choose to work in an environment such as a nursing home, hospital or school. In these cases, you will plan meals, purchase food and hire and train people to help you cook and serve meals to students or residents. You might decide to teach classes about nutrition. If you opt for this path, you will develop a class curriculum and prepare all of the outlines, visual aids and materials for students.
Dietitians and Nutritionists Tools and Technology
Dietitians and nutritionists use several scales and meters to monitor their clients’ progress. You will need hydrostatic bodyweight scales, metabolic carts, glucometers and impedance meters. You’ll also need working knowledge of a computer for reading and storing the results of these measurements.Dietitians and nutritionists also use a variety of software programs for analyzing and storing information. Popular choices include:
- Aurora FoodPro
- CyberSoft NutriBase
- BioEx Systems Nutrition Maker Plus
- Mosby’s Nutritac
- ValuSoft MasterCook
- SureQuest Systems Square 1
Additionally, you must have working knowledge of spreadsheet and word processing software. Microsoft is used most often.
Education and Training for Dietitians and Nutritionists
Dietitians and nutritionists must have a Bachelor’s degree. Programs you can study include clinical nutrition, dietetics, human nutrition and nutrition sciences, among several others. You do not need experience in the field to get a job as a dietitian or nutritionist, but you will have to complete an internship or residency program.
Dietitians and Nutritionists Salary
Dietitians and nutritionists typically earn about $35,000 in their first year. As you gain experience, you will earn more, with the average income being $57,000 per year. People in the top 10 percent of the field make just under $80,000 per year.
Dietitians and Nutritionists Jobs by Geography
There are just over 67,000 dietitians and nutritionists in the United States. California, Texas and New York have more nutritionists than other states, but openings are expected to grow by 21 percent over the next few years. Significant openings are likely to become available in Utah, Colorado and Kentucky in that time.