The job description for a Registered Dietitian (RD) varies depending upon the setting in which the RD works. Generally, RDs advise and counsel others on food and nutrition. They may explain nutrition issues to clients, assess the dietary and health needs of clients, develop meal plans for clients, gauge the effects of these meal plans, promote nutrition through public speaking and community outreach programs, and keep abreast of the latest research in nutritional and food sciences. Specialties within the Registered Dietitian profession include:
In order to be a good, effective Registered Dietitian, one should possess the following skills:
The Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) requires that students complete a college/university educational program in dietetics and/or nutrition that is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND). Educational programs may be in one of the following categories:
Coursework must include the following subjects:
Dietetic internships are usually within a food and nutrition specialty area, including but not limited to:
Before one can become a Registered Dietitian, he or she must complete the educational requirements above and pass the CDR’s Registration Examination for Dietitians. Once RD credentials have been earned, one must then fulfill the licensing/certification requirements of the state in which he or she plans to work. State laws regarding licensure/certification processes for Registered Dietitians may be found here. This involves applying for licensure/certification and paying the proper fees, and maintaining that licensure/certification through fulfilling a state’s continuing education requirements. The continuing education requirements of the CDR must also be fulfilled, as the RD credentials are renewed on a five-year cycle.
As of May 2012, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) of the U.S. Department of Labor states that the mean annual salary for Registered Dietitians nationally was $56,170. At that time, approximately 58,240 persons were employed as dietitians and/or nutritionists across the country. The highest paying state in which dietitians and nutritionists worked at that time was Maryland, where RDs earned an annual mean salary of $82,650. The top paying industry in which dietitians and nutritionists worked was the animal food manufacturing industry, where the annual mean salary of a RD was $88,100.
Employment projections from the BLS indicate that the job outlook for Registered Dietitians nationwide is quite good. Between the years 2010 and 2020, employment opportunities for Registered Dietitians are expected to increase at a faster than average rate of 20 to 28 percent. There are an estimated 35,400 job openings predicted for dietitians and nutritionists during that decade.