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Online Dietician Degree

More and more Americans are now embracing healthier lifestyles. With this awareness, many individuals are turning towards professionals for help. The reason for this new health trend stems from a number of factors. Some of these include disease prevention and performance enhancement. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for dieticians is expected to grow by 21% from 2012-2022. This is faster than the average for all occupations. The sector for dieticians and nutritionists is expanding fast, opening up many exciting job opportunities. These careers are directed towards helping people improve their health and as a result lead a productive life.

Dietician Degree Programs

Preparing for a career as a dietician requires education, and hands on experience. Many accredited schools, online colleges, and vocational schools are now offering clinical dietician programs, dietician certification programs, and dietician courses. These programs are to help students get in-depth knowledge in this field.

Associate Degree in Dietetics

High school students interested in becoming a dietician can opt for an associate-level degree in dietetics. This is a two-year undergraduate program that aims at providing students with fundamental knowledge of the field. Students can prepare for entry-level positions as dieticians.
The coursework of a dietician associates degree will include a number of subjects that cover topics on nutrition. These include therapy, wellness, food, and education. Students will learn about the importance of nutritional science and food. Here are some of the courses you will be required to study:

  • Human anatomy and physiology
  • Human nutrition
  • Sociology
  • Introduction to psychology
  • Dietetics in community health
  • Clinical nutrition
  • Nutritional counseling
  • Fundamentals of food
  • Life cycle nutrition

Masters Degree in Dietetics

In dietician graduate programs, students will learn how to design nutrition programs and integrate principles from biomedical science and psychology. This is an advanced-level program that prepares students for leadership roles within this field.
The curriculum is divided into classroom learning, research, and practical experience. Students will gain in-depth knowledge of the principles of nutrition and related disciplines of dietetics. The program focuses upon the growth and importance of dietetics, nutrition, and community health. The curriculum may vary with different colleges, but will generally include the following courses:

  • Introduction to biostatistics
  • Nutrition for disease prevention
  • Advanced clinical nutrition
  • Metabolic regulation
  • Food service management
  • Social and behavioral sciences

Each course will carry credit hours that must be earned. The duration of a dietician masters degree will depend upon the institute. Some colleges offer accelerated dietician masters programs that could be completed in less than two years.

Dietician Certification

In many states, dieticians need to be certified or licensed. The Commission on Dietetics Registration is a leading organization that offers the Registered Dietician Nutritionist (RDN) credential. This organization is responsible for managing and administering reliable credentialing processes in the field of nutrition and dietetics. The RDN credential is one of the most common and in demand.
Individuals must complete the eligibility criteria to qualify for this certification. The eligibility requirements include:

  • Minimum 4 year college degree
  • Completion of a program in dietetics – accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND)
  • Completion of supervised practice hours

Clinical Dietician Degree

Clinical dietician programs are available at both undergraduate and graduate level. These programs are geared towards equipping students with knowledge of human nutrition and its relation to health, disease prevention, and the biochemical basis of human nutrition. Clinical dietician courses will focus upon the following areas:
  • Medical nutrition
  • Bone disease
  • Geriatrics
  • Health promotion
  • Obesity and weight management
  • Diabetes care
  • Nutrition care process

Online Dietician Degree

Did you know you could also become a dietician by studying online? A number of colleges are offering online dietician programs. With online programs, students have the advantage of studying according to their schedule. Many find this mode of learning flexible and it fits well with the busy routine of working individuals. The coursework of a dietician degree online is covered through videos, online lectures, tutorials, and online classroom lectures. Here are some of the benefits of pursuing dietician courses online:

  • Flexible schedule
  • Convenience
  • Self-paced program
  • Individualized attention

Learning Objectives of Dietetics Degree Programs

  • Students will understand the principles of nutrition and dietetics
  • Students will gain a thorough understanding of the ethical standards employed within the industry
  • Students will gain hands on experience and will master the skill of menu development and management
  • Demonstrate strong communication skills
  • Meet client goals
  • Develop programs for health promotion
  • Educate and guide clients about nutrition and dietetics
  • Assess and diagnose issues related to nutrition
  • Gather and evaluate information on client’s health
  • Develop and modify diets and nutrition care programs for clients
  • Understand and comply with all rules and regulations of the industry

How to Enroll in a Dietitian Degree

The enrollment criteria will depend upon which college you wish to join, and the level of program you want to pursue. For undergraduate programs, students will be required to submit proof of a high school diploma or an equivalent qualification. Students interested in enrolling in a master’s degree in dietetics will need to submit their official bachelor degree transcript. Other general requirements may include:
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Personal essay
  • Minimum CGPA score

Please check with prospective schools to find out if there are other requirements.

Career Prospects

A degree in dietetics will help you prepare for a challenging career as a dietician. Depending upon the level of degree, students could look for employment with healthcare practitioners, hospitals, nursing care facilities, schools, and community health centers. If you do not wish to work in an organization, you could consider starting your own business.
According to the BLS, around 11% of dieticians were self-employed in 2012.
The job duties of a dietician typically include:

  • Assess patient and client needs
  • Develop meal plans for clients
  • Counsel patients and educate regarding healthy eating habits
  • Conduct research and contribute to the field of dietetics
  • Promote good eating habits

The income level varies with different employers. In 2012, dieticians made a median annual income of $55,240 according to BLS. The top 10% earned more than $77,590 whereas the bottom 10% earned approximately $34,500. Factors such as location, employer, certification, and skill set usually affects the income potential.


Frequently Asked Question(s)

Q:What is the career outlook with clinical dietician programs?

A:According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, dieticians and nutritionists as a whole might experience a faster than average growth in terms of jobs between 2012 and 2022. The most common area for employment of these individuals continues to be hospitals and nursing homes, but there might be a significant amount of outsourcing of food service and management.

Q:How does a certificate testing program to get a dietitian certification work internally?

A:According to the Commission on Dietetic Registration, there are a certain number of steps you need to follow to obtain your dietician certification. The first is a Dietetics Practice Audit, following by test specifications, test item developments, new test item review, item pool review, test item processing, test administration, passing score determination, score reporting and finally program evaluation.

Q:What is a clinical dietician?

A:A clinical dietician is a professional who is responsible of monitoring and prescribing nutritional and dietary plans for patients in private practices, nursing homes, prisons, hospitals and schools. Their main area of focus is diet plans and how they can be used to prevent or treat health ailments like obesity and high blood pressure. The minimum amount of education you will need to become a clinical dietician is a bachelor's degree.

Q:What subjects are covered in a dietician degree online?

A:In a dietician degree, you will cover a range of subjects that will equip you with in-depth knowledge and skills needed for a career as a dietician. Some of the topics include: nutrition assessment and therapy, humanities, nutritional aspects of disease, food service sanitation, food production, biochemistry, food science, principles of nutrition, and more. The curriculum may vary from place to place.

Q:After completing dietitian programs, what can I do?

A:With a degree in dietetics, you can work as a dietician in a healthcare institution, nursing facility, or even start-up your own business. The income level depends on your qualification, skill, and location. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, dietitians made a median annual income of $55,240 in 2012. (Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Q:What are the considerations I should keep in mind before applying for dietician courses online?

A:There are a few things you need to keep in mind when applying for a dietician course online. To be able to enroll in one of these, you will need to meet the prerequisite requirements. For instance, for a bachelor's degree, you might need to have done a sufficient amount of courses in chemistry, anatomy and physiology and biology, among others. Similarly, you must keep in mind that there will be offline requirements as well, so you need to find suitable facilities for such assignments. This, in most cases, is an internship in a healthcare facility.

Q:How long do dietitian masters programs take?

A:A masters degree in dietetics typically takes 2 years to complete. The program is designed to prepare students for advanced jobs in this field. Students must cover all the course components and earn a minimum number of credit hours to earn the degree. If you are looking for a shorter route to get a masters degree in dietetics, you can opt for an accelerated track.

Q:What practical experiences do dietitian graduate programs typically offer?

A:There is a very significant practical element in dietician graduate programs. These experiences are typically available in various settings such as working at an eating disorders clinic, clinical research centers at large teaching hospitals, outpatient cardiovascular clinics, offices of nationally distributed newsletters, private practices focused on nutrition for athletes. Graduates are prepared to work in a wide set of public health jobs.

Q:What are the jobs that I can get with a dietitian associates degree?

A:An associate degree in dietetics is an entry-level program. It is designed to equip you for entry-level jobs as dieticians. You can also become eligible for certain professional certifications with this degree such as the registered dietetic technician (DTR). However, you will first need to complete training and accumulate a certain number of work hours to get certified.

Q:Where should I get a clinical dietitian degree from?

A:There are a number of colleges offering dietetics and nutrition degree programs. You can search online and find out which college best fit your goals and costs. When selecting a school, you should check the following factors: accreditation of the school and the program, ranking, faculty qualifications, student reviews, and costs.

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