Registered dietitians (RDs) work in a wide variety of employment settings—including healthcare, business and industry, community/public health, education, research, government agencies, and private practice.
Many work environments—particularly those in medical and healthcare settings—require an individual be credentialed as an RD. RDs work in:
- Hospitals, HMOs, or other healthcare facilities—teaching patients about nutrition and administering medical nutrition therapy as part of the healthcare team. They may also manage the foodservice operations in these settings, as well as in schools, daycare centers, and correctional facilities, overseeing everything from food purchasing and preparation to managing staff.
- Sports nutrition and corporate wellness programs—educating clients about the connection among food, fitness, and health.
- Food and nutrition-related business and industries—working in communications, consumer affairs, public relations, marketing, product development, or consulting with chefs in restaurants and culinary schools.
- Private practice—working under contract with healthcare or food companies, or in their own business. RDs may collaborate with foodservice or restaurant managers, food vendors and distributors or athletes, nursing home residents, or company employees.
- Community and public health settings—teaching, monitoring, and advising the public and helping improve their quality of life through healthy eating habits.
- Universities and medical centers—teaching physician assistants, nurses, dietetics students, dentists, and others the sophisticated science of food and nutrition.
- Research areas in food and pharmaceutical companies, universities, and hospitals—directing or conducting experiments to answer critical nutrition questions and find alternative foods or nutrition recommendations for the public.
According to the American Dietetic Association's 2009 Dietetics Compensation and Benefits survey, half of all RDs in the United States who have been working in the field for five years or less earn $51,100 to $62,200 per year. As with any profession, salaries and fees vary by region of the country, employment settings, scope of responsibility, and supply of RDs. Salaries increase with years of experience—and RDs in management and business earn incomes of $85,000 to $88,000 annually. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of dietitians is expected to grow as fast as the average for all occupations through 2014 because of the increased emphasis on disease prevention, a growing and aging population, and public interest in nutrition. Employment in hospitals is expected to show little change because of anticipated slow growth and reduced lengths of hospital stay. Faster growth, however, is anticipated in nursing homes, residential care facilities, and physician clinics.
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