University of Wisconsin–Madison

Dietitian

Specializations

  • Clinical—work in hospital and other health care facilities. Part of a multi-disciplinary team.
  • Community—work with wellness programs and international health organizations.
  • Foodservice—responsible for large-scale food planning and service.
  • Gerontological—specialists in nutrition and aging.
  • Pediatric—provide health advice for persons under the age of 18.
  • Research—studies and researches nutrition and dietetics.
  • Administrative—manages dietary department and implements policy and procedure.
  • Business—serve as resource people for the media.
  • Consultant—works under contract in private and public institutions counseling staff on proper nutrition.

Work Activities/Work Locations

  • A Dietitian is an expert in food and nutrition; they promote good health through proper eating.
  • They supervise the preparation and service of food, develop modified diets, participate in research and educate individuals and groups on good nutritional habits.
  • May specialize in certain areas and therefore their duties may vary.
  • Only people with specified educational credentials can call themselves “dietitians”. The term “nutritionist” is also widely used, however, is NOT regulated as “dietitian” is.
  • Clinical dietitians in a hospital setting, as part of a multi-disciplinary team, consult with physicians and other health care personnel.
  • They create menus and plan meals and nutritional requirements, based on an individual’s dietary needs and restrictions as well as providing education on proper nutrition.
  • Dietitians may also do studies and research in nutrition and dietetics.
  • Clinical dietitians work in health care settings such as hospitals, clinics, nursing, homes, health maintenance organizations (HMO’s), government departments, home health care agencies, and public health organizations.
  • Might work in other various locations such as cafeterias and kitchens depending on specialization.
  • Increased interest in nutrition has led to opportunities in food manufacturing, advertising, and marketing, in which dieticians analyze foods, prepare literature for distribution, or report on issues such as the nutritional content of recipes, dietary fiber, or vitamin supplements.

Advantages and Disadvantages

  • Enjoy working with many different people.
  • Most often enjoy pleasant working conditions.
  • Clinical dietitians often have a high amount of patient and people interaction.
  • Dieticians may also be on their feet often during a regular workday.

 Education: 4-5 years

 Patient Interaction: High

 Physical Activity: Medium

 Salary: $54,403

 Job Growth: High

Getting Started

  • High School Courses
    • Students should take a college preparatory curriculum.
    • Helpful high school courses would include Home Economics, Anatomy & Physiology, Biology, Chemistry, Statistics and Probability, Economics, Health, and Mathematics.
  • Education and Training
    • Dietitians and nutritionists need at least Bachelor’s Degree in Dietetics, Foods and Nutrition, Food Service Systems Management, or a related area. AND complete ADA accredited pre-professional practice program.
    • College students in these majors take courses in Foods, Nutrition, Institution Management, Chemistry, Biochemistry, Biology, Microbiology, and Physiology.
    • Other suggested courses include Business, Mathematics, Statistics, Computer Science, Psychology, Sociology, and Economics.
    • A Master’s Degree in Dietetics OR a postgraduate Diploma in Dietetics combined with a Bachelor’s of Science Degree will also qualify.
    • ADA accredited pre-professional practice program can be acquired in two ways:
    • ONE, requires the completion of a Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education (CADE) accredited program. In a Coordinated Program (CP) students acquire internship hours concurrently with their coursework. Combined academic and supervised practice experience generally last 4 to 5 years.
    • OR TWO, requires the completion of 900 hours of supervised practice experience in any of the 265 CADE-accredited Internships. This is considered a Didactic Program (DP) as these hours in the Didactic Internship are completed AFTER obtaining a degree. These Internships may be full-time programs lasting 6 to 12 months or part-time programs lasting 2 years.
    • To maintain a Registered Dietitian (RD) status, at least 75 credit hours in approved continuing education classes are required every 5 years.

    Educational Institutions

    Mount Mary College
    University of Wisconsin – Green Bay
    University of Wisconsin – Madison
    University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee
    University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point
    University of Wisconsin – Stout
    Viterbo University
    Western Technical College
    Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College – Ashland
    Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College – New Richmond
    Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College – Rice Lake
    Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College – Superior

    Hospitals with Associated Educational Programs

    University of Wisconsin Hospital & Clinics, Madison 
    Veterans Administration Medical Center, Milwaukee

  • Method of Entry
    • Dietitians must pass a national exam to become registered AND meet strict, specific educational and professional prerequisites.
    • They may take the exam after they graduate from a college program approved by the American Dietetic Association (ADA) and complete an ADA accredited pre-professional practice program of at least 1200 hours of practical, supervised experience through an ACCREDITED program..
    • Some employers prefer to hire individuals who have a Master’s Degree.
    • Dietitians are registered with the Commission on Dietetic Registration (certifying agency of the ADA). In the US the terms registered dietitian and dietitian are legally protected terms regulated by ADA.
    • Once the degree is earned, the internship completed, and registration examination passed, the individual can now use the nationally recognized legal term, Registered Dietitian or Dietitian.
  • Professional Organizations

     

    Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
    120 South Riverside Plaza, Suite 2000
    Chicago, IL, 60606-6995
    312/899-0040 or 800/877-1600
    www.eatright.org

    American Nutrition Association
    4707 Willow Springs Rd., Suite 203
    La Grange, IL, 60525
    708/246 – FOOD (3663)
    americannutritionassociation.org/

    American Society for Nutrition
    9650 Rockville Pike
    Bethesda, MD, 20814
    301/634-7050
    www.nutrition.org/

    School Nutrition Association
    120 Waterfront Street, Suite 300
    National Harbor, MD, 20745
    301/686-3100
    www.schoolnutrition.org/

    Wisconsin Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
    563 Carter Court, Suite B
    Kimberly, WI, 54136
    920/560-5619 or 888/232-8631

    www.eatrightwisc.org

Career Outlook

Number Employed in 2014 (Wisconsin): 1,440
Number Employed in 2014 (U.S.): 66,700
Expected Employment in 2024 (U.S.): 77,600
Percent Employment Growth (2014-2024): 16%
Expected Annual Openings: 1,600
Median Salary in 2014 (Wisconsin): $54,403

Salary information is located at Career One Stop

Wisconsin AHEC Health Careers Information Center provides the most current salary information available from CareerOneStop. CareerOneStop will have a lapse between when the information is gathered and when it is released.

  • Dietitians may work part-time or full-time – 40 hours a week.
  • Shift work, including weekend and holiday work schedules is not unusual.
  • Dietitians may be promoted to management positions as head dietitians, assistant director, associate director, or director of a dietetic department, or may become self-employed. Some dietitians specialize in areas such as renal, diabetic, cardiovascular, or pediatric dietetics.
  • Others leave the occupation to become sales representatives for equipment, pharmaceutical or food manufacturers.
  • Some work as clinical dietitians at hospitals, schools, and other food service programs.
  • Researchers and university professors must have a doctoral degree.