Careers in Dietetics
Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDN) can find employment in a variety of settings. Some may include healthcare, government agencies, research, education, community/public health, business and private practice. The field of dietetics employment is often broken down into three general areas: clinical nutrition, community nutrition and food service.
Jobs in this area may include working in a hospital, clinic or other health-care facility. In this capacity, RDNs educate patients about nutrition and administer medical nutrition therapy. RDNs work as part of a health-care team which usually includes doctors, nurses, physical therapists and speech therapists.
Community RDNs teach, monitor and advise the public and help improve the quality of life through healthy eating. They can help create, implement and promote wellness programs and are the expert in nutrition to provide sound advice for large audiences.
On a smaller scale, RDNs may also be involved in corporate wellness programs or educate clients on the relationship between food, fitness and health to help improve sports performance. They may also work individually with clients with chronic disease conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, digestive disorders or food allergies.
RDNs have the education required to manage foodservice operations at healthcare facilities, schools, day-care centers or correctional facilities. As a foodservice manager, the RDN will supervise all processes of the foodservice operation including purchasing and preparing food as well as managing the kitchen staff.
Other areas such as private practice, education and research can also be possibilities for RDNs and may fall under any of these categories depending on the individual's personal interests.
Job Outlook and Salary
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average employment growth rate for RDNs from 2016-2026 is 15%, much faster than average of 7%, with an expected job increase of almost 10,000 jobs. This is in part related to the increasing interest in the role of food and nutrition in disease prevention. This may increase the demand for dietitians in the grocery store to help consumers make healthy food choices. The increasing aging population also plays a role in the positive job outlook for RDNs which will provide job opportunities in nursing homes, residential care facilities and physician clinics.
In 2016, the median annual salary for RDNs was $58,920. The lowest 10% earned less than $36,470 and the highest 10% earned more than $82,410. About 25% of RDNs worked part time.