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Nutritionists and dieticians plan meals and nutritional programs for the purpose of promoting health, preventing and treating illness, and facilitating weight control.

There are several classifications of dieticians and nutritionists including clinical dieticians, community dieticians, management dieticians, and consultant dieticians. Clinical dieticians work in nursing homes and hospitals where they create nutritional programs for patients. Clinical dieticians usually confer with doctors and other health care professionals when designing nutritional programs. Community dieticians are typically placed in public health clinics, home health agencies, and health maintenance organizations (HMOs). They generally educate individuals and small groups on nutrition for health promotion and disease prevention. Management dieticians manage large-scale meal planning and preparation in hospitals, cafeterias, schools and other facilities. Finally, consultant dieticians maintain their own private practice or contract their services to a variety of organizations. They may create nutritional plans for individuals, wellness programs, sports teams, or other organizations that have nutritional needs.

Education and Training

In the U.S., nutritionists and dieticians may need the following education and training:

  • a bachelor's degree with a major in dietetics, nutrition, or related area

Forty states require licensing, certification or registration. Completing an approved bachelor's degree program, engaging in supervised practice and passing a certification exam usually can satisfy these requirements.

On the Job

Most nutritionists and dieticians work a standard forty-hour week although some may work on weekends or off-hours. Many nutritionists work part time. Nutritionists consult with a variety of patients and health care providers during their workday.

Math on the Job

Nutritionists must consider several factors such as weight and age when creating a nutritional plan. Nutritionists may apply a formula, proportion or other mathematical technique in order to produce a diet that has the appropriate nutritional balance.

Related Careers

  • food services manager
  • nurse
  • personal trainer

You can get more information about dieticians and nutritionists and about nutrition and health from the American Dietetic Association (ADA) .