Registered Dietitian

Two people looking at nutrition facts booklet with bowl of fruit in the foreground.

A career as a Registered Dietitian (RD) or Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) will provide you opportunities to use food services and nutritional programs to assist in the promotion of health and control of disease. Registered Dietitians assess nutritional needs, diet restrictions and health plans to develop and implement dietary-care plans and provide nutritional counseling. For example, a dietitian or dietitian nutritionist might teach a client with diabetes how to plan meals to balance the client’s blood sugar.

You will be trained to advise patients on basic rules of good nutrition, healthy eating habits, and food selection and preparation to improve quality of life. Using nutritional principles, dietary plans and modifications you may supervise activities of a department providing food services, counseling individuals, or conducting nutritional research.

A Registered Dietitian is a trained nutrition professional who has met the strict educational and experiential standards set forth by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND), the accrediting agency of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

  • Percent Change in Employment, Projected 2018 - 202813% Health diagnosing and treating practitioners

  • 11%Dietitians

  • 5% Total, all occupations

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Outlook and demand

Demand for Registered Dietitians are projected to grow due to the role of food in preventing and treating diseases, such as diabetes, is now well known. More Registered Dietitians will be needed to provide care for patients with various medical conditions and to advise people who want to improve their overall health.

Employers look for professionals who can:

  • Assess patients’ and clients’ nutritional and health needs
  • Counsel patients on nutrition issues and healthy eating habits
  • Develop and evaluate effects meal and nutrition plans
  • Promote better health by speaking to groups about diet, nutrition, and disease prevention
  • Create educational materials about healthy food choices
  • Keep up with or contribute to the latest food and nutritional science research

Paths that can lead to this career

Dietitians typically need a bachelor’s degree, along with supervised training through an internship. Many Registered Dietitians have advanced graduate degrees. Many states require dietitians to be licensed. At UAB, the Dietitian Education Program and the Lifestyle Management and Disease Prevention Track with the Dietitian Education Program-Certificate can lead to eligibility to sit for the registration exam.

Please note, the UAB Clinical Track/Dietetic Internship is a competitive program that participates in the Dietetic Internship Centralized Application System (DICAS) and online computer matching through D&D Digital. Students who are matched to the MS in Nutrition Sciences, Clinical Track/Dietetic Internship will then apply to the Graduate School.

High School

If you're currently in high school and interested in becoming a Registered Dietitian you can do the following steps to prepare for this career:

Undergraduate

If you're currently an undergraduate and interested in becoming a Registered Dietitian you can do the following steps to prepare for this career:

  • In order to apply to the Clinical Track/Dietetic Internship, you must first complete a bachelor degree from an ACEND-accredited Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD). If you have completed an ACEND-accredited Didactic Program in Dietetics you will apply for the UAB Dietetic Internship through the Dietetic Internship Centralized Application Services (DICAS) portal.
  • Even if you're attending a school without an ACEND-accredited Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD), UAB has MS in Nutrition Sciences programs that will allow you to make a difference through nutrition education.
  • Find opportunities to job shadow licensed Registered Dietitians.
  • Think about adding on the UAB Nutrition Sciences Minor.
  • Study and schedule a time to take the GRE exam. UAB's code for the GRE is 7801.
  • Attend a MS in Nutrition Sciences, Clinical Track Dietetic/Internship open house session.

Graduate

If you already have a bachelor's degree, did you take these types of courses?

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Anatomy & Physiology
  • Human Nutrition
  • Biochemistry
  • Psychology
  • Sociology

Job titles and employers

Did you know?

The UAB Department of Nutrition Sciences is the home of two major NIH-funded research centers.

Registered Dietician

Places of work for this career:

  • Schools
  • Hospitals
  • Research
  • Rehabilitation Facilites
  • Cafeterias
  • Corporate Nutrition Programs
  • Sports Nutrition
  • State and Local Governments

To find out detailed salary information and more information on this career, you can explore the Department of Labor's O*Net database.

Organizations to check out for this career:

Next steps

Explore

Find out more information about the MS in Nutrition Sciences program.

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