Dietitian Salary

Dietitian SalaryDoes an apple a day really keep the doctor away? Go ask your dietitian. Their job is to support clients in making changes to their diet. Using their extensive knowledge of food and nutrition, they educate the public on eating habits that promote healthier lifestyles. Ever wondered how much a dietitian makes? Or how to become one? Look no further, as we’ll take a look at a dietitians average salary, key responsibilities, work environment and career path.

Dietitian Salary

What is the salary of a dietitian? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), dietitians make $57,440 per year, or $27.62 per hour. The top 10% of earners have salaries of $79,840 per annum, whilst the lowest 10% earn $35,040 annually.

Annual income is determined by a number of factors. Earnings rise proportionally with job experience. Professionals new to the field can expect starting salaries of around $35,040, while those with 10-20 years of experience enjoy annual earnings almost 50% higher . Location of employment also contributes, as earnings vary by state. The top 5 paying states are California, Maryland, Nevada, Connecticut and New Jersey. Salaries of also differ with employer. Generally, those working in private practices earn more than those in hospitals.

Dietitian also enjoy comprehensive benefit packages, typically consisting of health care, social security, retirement plans and time-off.

Job Description

Dietitians advise clients on their diets to help them achieve their goals. Before scheduled appointments, they review medical records and case files, looking for recent fluctuations in weight or conditions that reveal nutritional deficiencies. During appointments, their goal is to assess their client’s health and dietary needs. Based on their findings, they can then design a nutritional plan catering to the specific needs of their client.

Suggested dietary changes differ considerably as not all clients require the same thing. For example, a professional athlete will have completely different nutritional needs to a sedentary, middle-aged man suffering from diabetes. Plans can help clients lose weight, gain muscle, lower blood pressure, or perhaps recover from a specific illness. After the nutritional plan has been implemented, dietitians will evaluate their client’s progress. If they are not moving towards their goal, modifications may need to be made.

Another key task is educating the general public about dietary habits which promote general health and well-being. This includes giving presentations in schools and to other groups, providing nutritional advice. Also, with health and food advice constantly changing, it’s important for dietitians to keep abreast with the latest developments in their field. Continual learning may come from attending seminars or reading journal articles.

Work Environment

Most dietitians’ time is divided between working with clients in wards or examination rooms, and completing administrative tasks in an office. The majority of professionals are employed full-time, working around 40 hours per week during normal business hours. 1 in 5 worked part time in 2012.

Many individuals opt to work for themselves, with 11% of professionals choosing to be their own boss. This grants greater schedule flexibility, and increases potential income. That said, being self-employed often means working longer hours, as your livelihood depends on expanding your network of clients and developing business opportunities.

Work setting varies with specialization. Clinical dietitians provide nutritional therapy in hospitals, so are surrounded by wards, patients and medical staff. Management dietitians design, plan and budget meal programs and typically work in cafeterias, schools, prisons or hospitals. On the other hand, community nutritionists talk to lots of specific groups, so travel frequently.

Dietetics ranks highly in job satisfaction. When asked to describe its most positive aspects, one dietician answered “before the patient is discharged, I try to do a teaching session with them. It’s wonderful to see them dressed and looking healthier. They’re asking you questions, they’re motivated to eat well…it feels like I’ve made a difference.”

How to become a Dietitian

Most in the profession have a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree in dietetics, food and nutrition, clinical nutrition or a related field. Many universities offer four year degree programs, in which students take courses such as biology, chemistry, nutrition and psychology.

After graduation, graduates must complete several hundreds of hours of supervised work experience in the form of an internship. Some schools include work placements in their programs, whereas others expect you to find one after graduating.

Regulations fluctuate considerably between states. Most require licensing, or at least some form of certification. On the other hand, some states have no regulations. Typically, obtaining a license requires applicants to have attained a relevant Bachelor’s degree, completed a supervised work placement, as well as passing licensing exams.

Although certification is not compulsory, many employers prefer, or even require, candidates to be certified. The most common credential is the Registered Dietetic Nutritionist (RDN) certificate, which requires a bachelor’s degree and internship experience to obtain. In order to maintain license and certification, dietitians must complete continuing professional education requirements.

Career Outlook

Now is a great time to start a career in dietetics, as it’s a dynamic, fast growing field. BLS expects dietitian employment opportunities to grow by 21% in the 2012-2022 projection period, which is faster than average.

Demand is driven by multiple factors. With a third of the U.S population obese, incidences of chronic diseases such as diabetes are rising. Dietitians are needed to provide nutritional advice, and support people to improve their dietary habits, helping the country become leaner and healthier. Secondly, as the baby-boom population ages, elderly people are looking for ways to remain active and healthy, also driving demand.

As with all health care professions, job prospects are particularly sensitive to current healthcare legislation. With medical funding expected to rise, hospitals are able to hire more dietitians, and expanded health care coverage means people are more likely to take advantage of their services.

Related Careers

Medical doctors treat and diagnose various illnesses and diseases. They use a variety of tests and examinations to identify their patient’s medical condition. They then design treatment plans and prescribe medication to promote recovery. Becoming a doctor involves graduating from medical school. The average annual income of medical doctor’s in 2013 was $187,000 (BLS).

Dentists perform a wide variety of dental treatments to improve the oral health of their patients. With extensive knowledge of oral diseases and conditions, they diagnose clients and treat them accordingly. Becoming a dentist involves graduating from dental school, then passing the licensing exam. Dentists can specialize in a number of areas, all of which require further education, such as orthodontics or oral pharmacology. According to BLS, the average pay for dentists was $149,310 in 2012.

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