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Clinical Dietician

Career Overview

Clinical dieticians oversee the nutrition programs for hospitals, nursing homes and other institutions. They assess patient's nutritional needs where appropriate, develop and implement nutrition programs and track the results.

A clinical dietician is expected to confer with the appropriate doctors and nurses about nutritional needs and special diets as needed. Some clinical dieticians specialize in overweight patients, patients with kidney problems or in critically ill patients. In some institutions outside the acute care field they may supervise food preparation as well.

Education

An aspiring clinical dietician must obtain a bachelor's degree in diatetics, food service management, nutrition or a related field. There are master's programs available as well at a few schools; however the prevailing level of education is the bachelor's degree. Of the 48 states with laws governing diatetics, 35 require licensure for clinical dieticians. Twelve additional states have a statutory certification program.

Employment

There were about 57,000 dieticians employed in the United States in 2006. About half worked in hospitals or nursing homes. Others worked in schools, home health care services and for medical practices.

Job Outlook

Job growth in this field is expected to be abou the same as the overall projected job growth over the next several years. Job opportunities may be driven by the expansion of assisted living facilities as our population ages.

Salary

Lowest 10% $40,429

Median Salary $50,532

Highest 10% $60,536

Source: Salary.com

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