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Career Guide: Dietician and Nutritionist

Career Guide: Dietician and Nutritionist

Employment growth, however, may be constrained if some employers substitute other workers, such as health educators, food service managers, and dietetic technicians, to do work related to nutrition. Also, demand for nutritional therapy services is related to the ability of patients to pay, either out-of-pocket or through health insurance, and although more insurance plans now cover nutritional therapy services, the extent of such coverage varies among plans. Growth may be curbed by limitations on insurance reimbursement for dietetic services.

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Hospitals will continue to employ a large number of dietitians and nutritionists to provide medical nutritional therapy and plan meals. But hospitals also will continue to contract with outside agencies for food service and move medical nutritional therapy to outpatient care facilities, slowing job growth in hospitals relative to food service, outpatient facilities, and other employers.

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Salary: $29,860 - $68,200
Min. Education: Bachelor's
Related Careers: Physician, Psychologist

The number of dietitian positions in nursing care facilities is expected to decline, as these establishments continue to contract with outside agencies for food services. However, employment is expected to grow rapidly in contract providers of food services, in outpatient care centers, and in offices of physicians and other health practitioners.

Finally, with increased public awareness of obesity and diabetes, Medicare coverage may be expanded to include medical nutrition therapy for renal and diabetic patients, creating job growth for dietitians and nutritionists specializing in those diseases.

Job Prospects

In addition to employment growth, job openings will result from the need to replace experienced workers who retire or leave the occupation for other reasons. Overall, job opportunities will be good for dietitians and nutritionists, particularly for licensed and registered dietitians. Job opportunities should be particularly good in outpatient care facilities, offices of physicians, and food service management. Dietitians and nutritionists without a bachelor’s degree will face keen competition for jobs.

Dietitians with specialized training, an advanced degree, or certifications beyond the particular State’s minimum requirement will experience the best job opportunities. Those specializing in renal and diabetic nutrition or gerontological nutrition will benefit from the growing number of diabetics and the aging of the population.

Earnings

Median annual earnings of dietitians and nutritionists were $46,980 in May 2006. The middle 50 percent earned between $38,430 and $57,090. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $29,860, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $68,330. Median annual earnings in the industries employing the largest numbers of dietitians and nutritionists in May 2006 were:

Outpatient care centers $49,950 General medical and surgical hospitals $47,320 State government $46,690 Nursing care facilities $46,660 Local government $43,250


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