How to Become a Dietitian

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Dietitians are experts in food and nutrition. They design dietary programs to treat and prevent certain illnesses, and they educate individuals and groups about eating properly. Their skills are used in health care facilities, private industry, day care centers, schools, universities, nursing homes, prisons and, increasingly, the media.

Things You'll Need

  • ADA Information
  • Certification Information
  • College Catalogs
  • Individual School Requirements And Application
  • Career Counseling
  • Study biology, chemistry, mathematics, home economics and health in high school.

  • Ask your guidance counselor for a list of colleges in your geographical area that offer bachelor's degrees in dietetics, food and nutrition, or food service systems management. There are 235 programs approved by the Commission on Accreditation/Approval for Dietetics Education (CAADE) of the American Dietetics Association (ADA).

  • Send for college catalogs and applications. Compare their programs, including the required supervised practice experience, an integral part of the degree work. Depending on the school, you can either combine academic and supervised practice experience in a four-year program or complete 900 hours of supervised practice experience in an ADA-accredited internship.

  • Be prepared to take courses in nutrition, biology, microbiology, psychology, sociology, mathematics, institutional management and computer science.

  • Polish your writing skills.

  • Take a certification exam to become credentialed as a registered dietitian after you complete your bachelor's degree and the supervised practice experience. If you pass the exam, the Commission on Dietetic Registration of the ADA will grant you the credential, which most dietitians in medical and health care settings are required to have.

  • Get a master's degree if you want to work in research, an advanced clinical position or public health. You can do this part-time while you are working.

Tips & Warnings

  • Consult your state regarding any special licensing requirements.
  • Set aside time for continuing education in order to maintain your registration.

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