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Community Dietician

Career Overview

Community dietitians engage in nutritional outreach. They advise individuals and groups on nutritional practices, both for preventive medical purposes and to promote a healthy lifestyle. They work in public health clinics, HMOs and home health agencies. Often they will counsel families on nutritional practices if chronic illness is a problem in the home.

Community dieticians can develop dietary plans for individuals or families in an effort to get them on the right track. In home health agencies, a community dietician may provide instruction on such basics as grocery shopping and food preparation, particularly in homes with elderly residents or people with special dietary needs.

Education

Most dieticians' jobs require a bachelor's degree in dietetics, foods and nutrition, or a related area such as food service management. There is a lot of science involved in this course of study, including classes in biology, chemistry, physiology, biochemistry and microbiology. Every state requires some form of licensure or certification.

Employment

There were 57,000 dieticians working in this country in 2006. More than half were in hospitals, nursing homes, outpatient facilities or other health care offices. There were also a substantial number of dieticians employed by government agencies. Many of these government employees and some of the workers in outpatient facilities worked as community dieticians.

Job Outlook

Jobs are projected to grow at about the same rate as the average rate of job growth overall over the next several years. Changes in health care coverage may limit some of the career specialties for dieticians however, as may cutbacks in government spending on public health.

Salary

10th Percentile $31,460

Median Salary $50,590

90th Percentile $73,410

Source: U.S. Department of Labor

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