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Career Snapshots

Dietitian

What dietitians do

Eating the right foods can make a lot of difference in the quality of a person's life. Dietitians study the foods we eat, the amount we eat, and how we eat it so that we can learn how to be happier and healthier. Dietitians work in many different places, doing many different things. Clinical dietitians teach people about food in places like hospitals, medical schools, outpatient centers, and doctors' offices. Community dietitians give classes on eating right and staying healthy in public places like government health agencies and health fitness clubs. Management dietitians work in hospitals, schools, cafeterias, and restaurants to make sure that the food is well-prepared. Business dietitians work for big companies. They help the companies to make and sell nutritious foods, or they might help the companies to tell people about how good their food is. Consultant dietitians work on their own for private customers. They plan meals for people, families, groups, companies, nursing homes, doctor's offices, sports teams and more! Dietitians also teach people about eating healthy foods in schools and colleges, and some of them study all the time so that they can write articles and books to help people.

Preparing for the job

Learning about food is not as easy as it might sound. If you would like to be a dietitian, you should learn everything you can in your science classes. Once you graduate from high school, you will have to take four years of college. In college, you will learn important information about the vitamins, minerals, proteins, and other things that food gives us. You will also learn how the food we eat affects the way we grow, and about making healthy food that looks nice and tastes good. Your classes will teach you how to help other people to eat better by giving them advice or by making sure that the public places where they eat are safe and healthy. Once you have graduated, you will have to either work at an internship or get a masters degree before you can take a test to become licensed. When you pass the test, you will be called a registered dietitian (R.D.). You have to be an R.D. to work in many of the jobs we talked about in the first section. If you would like to do research or teach dietetics at a college, you will need to go to even more classes so you can earn a doctoral degree!

The future

More people want to stay healthy now by eating right, so there will be a need for more dietitians in the future. There are also a lot of people who are beginning to grow old now. This means that there will be more nursing homes, home health agencies, and other groups who will need dietitians.