Career as a Dietitian and Nutritionist

Are you a fitness freak, sweating it out in the gym for hours at a stretch simplybecause you like staying fit? Do you count the calories you consume while others gorge on them mindlessly? If yes, then here’s a career for you to consider.

A Dietitian and Nutritionistis an expert in the field of healthcare with the knowledge of nutrition and dietetics. They improve people’s quality of life by evaluatingvarious physical and psychological factors including gender, age, sickness, food habits and other health conditions to suggest an appropriate diet plan. Dietitians and nutritionists help people achieve better health by advising on their lifestyle and food choices.

Although the terms dietitian and nutritionist are often used loosely, they are not interchangeable. A nutritionist can become a dietitian by taking the relevant certification course and training, and securing a license (applicable only in some countries including India.)All dietitians can call themselves nutritionists or dietitian-nutritionist. However, nutritionists without a proper dietitian degree calling themselves dietitians or dietitian-nutritionists is not legally permitted.


Top Colleges

There are several courses in nutrition and dietetics across universities in India and abroad available for students interested to pursue it as a career. Employers of dietitians and nutritionists prefer candidates with physics, chemistry or home science backgrounds and who have passed the Registered Dietitians examination or Certified Nutrition Specialists examination.

A bachelor’s degree in dietetics is the minimum qualification to become a dietitian. The countries like USA,Canada and India need dietitians to take an additional exam to secure a licence/registration to practice.

In India, nutrition and dietetics courses are offered as undergraduate, post-graduate, diploma and certificate programs. Admission to BSc. (Food Science and Nutrition) and MSc. (Nutrition) is based on merits and entrance exams. To pursue an MSc.degree in nutrition, students are expected to have a bachelor’s degree preferably in science subjects like Microbiology, Chemistry andMedicine although Home Science, Hotel management and Catering Technology students are also eligible to apply.To pursue the three years BSc. (Food Science and Nutrition) degree, students should have Science with Physics, Chemistry and Biology as their main subjects in high school.

Canada is one of the best countries to study nutrition and dietetics courses. After earninga Bachelor’s degree in food and nutrition from a Partnership for Dietetic Education and Practice (PDEP)certified university, future Dietitians must undergo a supervised practical training for the same. The University of British Columbia offers a five-year professional program in Dietetics which involves two years of pre-requisite studies and three more years of general studies in Biology and Social Sciences including a year of internship at the university. Students can also earn a BSc(NutrSc) Dietetics Major at the McGill University.It is a 3.5 years program which includes 40 weeks of internship. University of Toronto offers a4 years BSc. in Nutritional Sciences program.. The US also has several good universities which offer four-yearfull-time undergraduate Bachelor of Science in dietetics courses.

INDIA

Duration : 1 - 4 years

Fee per course/annum : Rs 20,000- 30,000

INDIA

US

Duration : 4 years

Fee per course/annum : $11,000 - $53,000

USA

CANADA

Duration : 4 - 5 years

Fee per course/annum : CAN $17,000 –CAN $46,000

CANADA

 

Career Prospects

Obesity and health-related problems arising from excessive weight are two of the major causes of concerns in the modern medicine world. In the US, around 36.4% of the white population is considered obese and about 1 in every 13 peopleare extremely obese. Obesity amongst children and adolescents between the ages of 2 and 19 is about 17.2%, and approximately 1 in 17 children fall into the category of extremely obese. In India too, at least 5% of the country’s population is suffering from obesity and related health problems. This has led to a high demand for dietitians and nutritionists.In India, once you have cleared the registered dietitian exam which is conducted by the Indian Dietetic Association, you will be able to start practising individually or as an employee in a firm. The job role of a registered dietitian includes planning, monitoring and supervising the diet for patients in hospitals, clinics, health centres, sports centres or as a part of their own private practice. They recommend corrective food and lifestyle habits after taking into consideration patient’s age, health, lifestyle, and allergies if any. A dietitian and nutritionist can work in various positions:

  • Clinical dietitians
  • Consultant dietitians
  • Food technologists

Each of these profiles fit into a variety of workplaces. For example, food nutrition services are needed in hospitals, nutrition counselling is required in public health agencies and fitness clubs, and clinical management professionals are hired in food service systems.

Nutritionists can find work as:

  • Administrative nutritionist
  • Business nutritionist
  • Clinical nutritionist
  • Community nutritionist
  • Consultant nutritionist

Jobs & Salary

Besides the traditional areas of work like hospitals, outpatient clinics, nursing homes, schools, community health care centres, public research institutes andhealth care agencies, there is a strong demand for dietitians and nutritionists in many new and upcoming service areas including:

  • Sports and health clubs
  • Slimming Centres
  • Catering departments of hotels and high-endrestaurants
  • Food product manufacturing companies
  • News channels associated with disseminating information on nutritional care

Statistical projections show a positive occupational outlook for dietitians and nutritionists in the US. In 2012, 67,400 were employed across the United States and this number is expected to reach 81,600 by the year 2022. The expected employment growth of 21% is faster than the average for many other occupations.

The average monthly salary of dietitians and nutritionists in the USis $4,700.Grantmaking and giving services, home health care, office administration and insurance are the highest paying industries for these professions. Hawaii, Connecticut, California, Maryland and Nevada are the best states to work in terms of pay.

In India, the starting salary is Rs.10,000 a month for a trainee dietitian and nutritionistin a private hospital. The pay can go up to Rs.35,000 a month with experience and expertise. Perks and benefits are over and above the salary. However, there is no upper limit to the amount of moneyconsultant dietitians in private practice make which is mostly dependant on their skills and reputation.

Pros & Cons

Like medicine, nutrition and dieteticsis considered a noble profession. To become a good dietitian and nutritionist, you must possess a keen interest in health and diet as well asstrong communication and motivational skills. Since the job involves working closely with patients, a dietitianmust also be compassionate, patient, and most importantly, sensitive to a patient’s individual needs.

Pros
  • Immense job satisfaction since you willhelp people become healthier
  • Opportunity to work in multiple places at the same time
  • You can take care of your own health and offer advice to family, and friends

Cons

  • Working with patients with limited life expectancy can get difficult
  • Like medicine, one has to study and train for several years before starting to work
  • You will have to continuously monitor your own fitness to maintain a positive public profile

Famous Personalities


Rujuta Diwekar

The author of the bestseller healthy living and wellness book - Women and The Weight Loss Tamasha, RujutaDiwekar isIndia’s top celebrity nutritionist and exercise science expert. She is the winner of the prestigious ‘Nutrition award’ from Asian Institute of Gastroenterology (AIG). In 2012, the People magazine voted her as one of the 50 most powerful people in India. She hasan enviouscelebrity clientele including Anil Ambani, Kareena&Karisma Kapoor, AnupamKher andRichaChadda.

Robin Miller

A famous face on television, Robin Miller hosts the ‘Quick Fix Meals with Robin Miller’cooking show on the Food Network. She is a nutritionist and food writer, who has eight books to her credit and a host of publications in multiple magazines. On her cooking show, Miller offers strategies to make ‘stress-free’ meals and gives tips on best cooking options with minimum effort. ‘Quick Fix Meals with Robin Miller’and ‘Robin to the Rescue’are her latest cookbooks

Shubi Husain

With over two decades of experience in the Fitness & Lifestyle industry,Shubi Hussain is a well renowned Food and Nutrition expert. She founded Health Sanctuary, a chain of diet, weight loss, laser and dermatology clinics. Shubi Hussain has been the recipient of theprestigious “Female Entrepreneur of the Year Stevie Award” and the “Brand Achievers Award.”Many movie actors consult her regularly.


Timeline :

      1770 - The French chemist and the Father of Nutrition and Chemistrydiscover how metabolism works.


      1790 - George Fordyce discovers that calcium is necessary for survival.


      1912 - The name vitamin is introduced by Polish biochemist Casimir Funk.


      1927 - German chemist Adolf Windaus wins Nobel Prize for synthesizing vitamin D.


      1940 - Water-soluble B and C vitamins are identified.


      1968 - Nobel Prize winner in chemistry Linus Pauling proposes that by giving the right concentration of molecules (optimum nutrition) to the body, better health and prolonged life can be achieved. 


      1970's - 80's : Studies suggest that very large doses of vitamin C increases the survival time and quality of life in terminal cancer patients.


       1994 - 2000 : The Dietary and Supplement Health and Education Act is approved by the US Congress that sets rules about what can and cannot be written about nutritional supplements without prior FDA review.

 


Did you now?

  • The word dietitian is derived from the word ‘dietetics’ which comes from the Greek word ‘diaitia’ which means ‘way of life’.
  • Foods labelled ‘no trans-fat’ may legally contain some.
  • Fruit juice sometimes has more calories and sugar than soda.



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