The job of a registered dietitian is one that is professionally and financially rewarding. If you are someone who is passionate about health, nutrition, and eating right, and wish to guide those around you, here’s a look into how you can become a registered dietitian and pursue your passion.
A Registered Dietitian (RD) is someone who has the highest credentials as a food and nutrition expert, and is capable of guiding people toward living a healthy lifestyle by monitoring their diet program. These professionals may also chart out diet programs for those who are suffering from or recovering from any kind of health problem. These are individuals who study food sciences and the effect of food on our bodies, so that they may be able to tell which ones are suitable for individuals based on their body type and several other factors.
RD is a credential that is nationally recognized in the field of food and nutrition and in the health care industry. It takes a lot of hard work to become a registered dietitian. However, if you make it through, you will have pursued one of the most rewarding careers there was. For those of you who are interested, here’s how to become one.
Requirements to be a Registered Dietitian
As mentioned earlier, becoming a registered dietitian and then fulfilling the requirements of the career is a lot of hard work. You should be mentally prepared for it before you start off, so that you don’t find yourself regretting your choice. If you wish to, speak to a few registered dietitians and see what they have to say about the job. You may then go ahead and follow these steps towards becoming one yourself.
Step 1: Complete a Bachelor’s Degree
Attain a bachelor’s degree in food and nutrition or dietetics from a university that is approved by the Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education (CADE) of the American Dietetic Association (ADA). Along with your majors you may take courses in subjects such as food service systems management, physiology, biochemistry, microbiology, computers, business, mathematics, psychology, and sociology. These subjects will help you when you eventually start your practice.
Step 2: Attain an Internship in the Field
Getting an internship is as competitive as getting admission in a college of your choice. The internship program should be accredited by the CADE, a program that is supervised by professionals and experts. You may be able to complete the practice program in either a food service corporation, a health-care facility, or a community agency. This program may be 6 months to one year long. You may pursue this program in course of your bachelor’s education.
Step 3: Pass the Registration Examination to Become an RD
This is a national examination that is administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR), details regarding which are available on their website. Once you attain these credentials, you will have to obtain licensure in the state you work in. More often than not, you will have fulfilled all the state requirements to practice dietetics if you are aiming to become a registered dietitian. After clearing the exam, you may apply the credentials RD after your name.
Step 4: Pursue Continuing Education
To maintain the RD credentials, you will have to pursue approved continuing education, which requires you to complete 75 credit hours every five years.
Some of you may want to specialize in specific areas of nutrition, such as renal or diabetic nutrition, pediatric nutrition, or sports nutrition, for which you will be required to hold additional certification provided by the CDR. Once you attain the RD credentials, you can work in different types of settings that include those such as hospitals, health-care facilities, food and nutrition based industries, corporate wellness programs, in private practice, and in universities or other educational settings.
The salary of a registered dietitian is largely based on the state of employment, years of experience, and areas of specialization. However, the approximate range for someone who has been in the field for less than five years is US $51,000 to US $63,000. These figures will of course increase as you pursue continuing education and attain experience.
Keep in mind that registered dietitians may have to work in a variety of settings and may have to be on their feet almost all day. It is a task that may also turn out to be physically demanding. If you think you are cut out for it, go ahead and pursue all the educational requirements to pursue this career. Good luck!