An individual who has an interest in food, nutrition and diets and has a propensity for science & research is suited for this profession. Exceptional communication skills and attributes like patience and concern for human health are essential for pursuing this career.
An aptitude to interact with people from all areas of the community, while simultaneously having the ability to explain complex things easily is what’s required. A dietitian and nutritionist should have good planning and organizing skills, maintain a positive & motivating attitude and have an understanding approach.
Want to know more about it?
Dietitians or nutritionists plan, implement and supervise dietary plans for individuals and groups. They analyze current eating habits while assessing whether they meet recommended daily allowances, suggesting replacements and healthier alternatives along the way. Dietitians and nutritionists focus on general health unlike weight loss experts who pay more attention to slimming down. They work also work with patients suffering from certain diseases, monitoring their diet to prevent or control certain ailments. For example, a dietitian may educate a patient with hypertension on how to consume less salt whilst preparing meals. They are also responsible for the diagnoses and dietary treatment of disease.
Dietitians assist people in creating a diet menu according to individual requirements while overseeing the preparation and serving of meals. Nutritionists play a bigger role in counseling & educating on healthy eating habits and prevention of nutritional deficiencies. They should be able to give unbiased advice to the masses.
Areas of specialization for dietitians include clinical dietitians, community dietitians, research dietitians, management dietitians & consultant dietitians. Apart from these, many food companies also employ dietitians & nutritionists to verify the quality of the food products, for advice on development of new products & for marketing related guidance. Recently, nutrition-related jobs are opening in fields such as marketing, food manufacturing, and advertising. This is due to people’s increasing interest in personal health and nutrition. Nutritionists working in these jobs analyze food products and their nutritional content, and then write and dispense information based on their research.
A dietitian should have a bachelor’s degree in an area like dietetics, food & nutrition or food service systems and preferably complete a master’s degree M.Sc (Nutrition) after graduation, which is usually a 2 year long course. A job in managing a school or hospital cafeteria may be of value on your CV.
Another option is to pursue a 1 year post-graduate diploma in Nutrition and Dietetics. Entry level dietitians and nutritionists usually undergo training for 1 year or undertake an internship for 900 hours. Those wishing to work in fields like public health & research or have a clinical career, need different advanced degrees. To practice as a registered dietitian or a nutritionist a license and registration is usually required. To retain the license, dietitians or nutritionists may be required to complete a standard period of continuing education every 5 years.
What are Salary Prospects?
In India, A fresher with a diploma can get anywhere around Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 15,000 per month. Those with a master’s degree can expect a higher package ranging between Rs. 2.5 lakh and Rs. 7 lakh per annum. The salaries get higher with experience
How is Life?
Nutritionists counsel individuals and groups, manage the food service systems in hospitals, schools, universities, hotels, catering businesses etc. Clinical dietitians and nutritionists generally have regular work hours and they may be required to work weekends as well. They come in direct contact with patients and advise them the pertinent diet according to the disease they have.
In the commercial food industry, working hours are often irregular. Research work is carried out in laboratories while in most other projects the office is situated near food preparation areas. A certain amount of time may be needed to be spent in kitchens, factories etc. which are usually hot & congested.
There is group work involved- working with other healthcare professionals to provide a multidisciplinary approach to problem solving. Most dietitians and nutritionists work an average of 40 hours per week.
What Perks come along with this career?
Dietitians and nutritionists enjoy the autonomy in managing their patients’ nutritional needs. Interaction with a diverse population consisting of students, families, patients, groups and other allied health professionals makes the job more interesting. There are promising career opportunities because of the fast growth of the food industry. Dietitians & nutritionists can expect an above average income.
Which Downsides are there in this career?
There are a few disadvantages of being a dietitian & nutritionist. The work environment may be harsh for instance, hot kitchens. They may be exposed to food bacteria and other organisms, therefore being susceptible to food borne diseases. Unsanitary conditions may also harbor a threat to health. Most dietitians & nutritionists are on their feet for most hours of the day.
Nowadays, there is lack of coverage of nutritionist services by healthcare providers and insurance companies leading to a sense of unreliability. Dietetics and nutrition is a highly competitive field, especially for those with just a bachelor’s degree. Education is rigorous & coursework intense.
A number of dietitians leave the field and go into sales for food manufacturing, equipment, or pharmaceuticals. Moreover, other professionals like doctors & chefs are taking over the role of nutrition in today’s world.
How is Competition?
The demand for dietitians and nutritionists is increasing nowadays with obesity and other dietary health disorders being on a rise. Moreover recently, the public is greatly concerned about their health and fitness due to an increase in general awareness. Services of dietitians and nutritionists are being sought in schools, hospitals, hotels etc. because of their fine comprehension in healthy eating and nutrition. Hiring dietitians and nutritionists in restaurants and other food places is a new trend these days, since everyone is becoming more curious & conscious of the food they eat.
There are approximately 60,000 dietitians and nutritionists working in the US. This field is projected to grow by 9% through the next decade, an average rate of growth compared to other jobs. Job opportunities are especially bright for women because the field is female dominated.
Locations where this career is good?
Virtually every country requires services of dietitians and nutritionists. Employment opportunities are especially concentrated in the west, for example in USA, Europe and Canada. Other places of interest are Australia, New Zealand, and even third world or developing countries.
The first step is to take up a home science course after Class 10. After completing Class 12, one can get a bachelor’s degree in home science. This course is offered as BSc (home science) or BA (home science). Then, do a master’s in home science with specialisation in food science and nutrition. Preference is given to candidates with science background in Class 12. The other way is to take up a full-time catering diploma and then do a specialisation in nutrition as a part of further education.