Dietitian or Nutritionist
Nutritionists and registered dietitians both study nutrition and help people select their food to reach a healthier lifestyle, but there is a major difference. Nutritionists manage general nutritional behaviors and goals. Dietitians are qualified to diagnose eating disorders and treat specific medical conditions. Both should be compassionate thinkers, problem solvers, good listeners, flexible and strong communicators. Is this you? Then you might want to investigate these job options.
A nutritionist is an expert in food and nutrition. Nutritionists advise people on their diet to promote a healthy lifestyle and manage diseases. They can also help people achieve a specific health-related goal.
Dietitians teach people and populations about nutrition, food and health. They can help diagnose and treat illnesses. They often work with people with eating disorders, substance abuse or medical conditions with symptoms that can be improved or managed with a more specific diet or meal planning. They often collaborate with mental health professionals to screen for eating disorders.
Many nutritionists and registered dietitians work in hospitals, nursing homes, long-term care facilities, medical offices or other care settings, but they can also work in their clients' homes or institutions like universities.
Nutritionists who are certified by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) are called dietitians. In the U.S., the title of "registered dietitian" (RD) is a nationally-recognized profession, while "nutritionist" is regulated on a state-by-state basis.
Nutritionists' education requirements vary from state to state. Depending on where you live, you might be able to offer nutritional advice without certification. There are specific requirements for becoming a registered dietitian, including getting a certification authorized by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR).
Most dietitians and nutritionists have at least a bachelor's degree. Popular degrees among nutritionist professionals are a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition or Health Care Administration Leadership and a Bachelor of Arts in General Studies with a concentration in health care. If you aim to become a registered dietitian, choose a bachelor's program that is approved by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics.
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When you think about healthcare, your thoughts likely turn to doctors and nurses, and caring for patients. Career opportunities in healthcare today are not only in high demand they are also highly diverse – spanning a range of specialist areas and different settings from home to hospital. For many healthcare positions you can get your start with a certificate, and advance your career with an associate or bachelor’s degree.
Texas Labor Market Information, Texas Workforce Commission. Statewide wages by occupation, 2021. Statewide projections by occupation, 2020-2030.