In 1996, when I attended New York University to receive my RD certification and MS degree in clinical nutrition and dietetics, the job opportunities were limited. The mainstream jobs included being an in-house or outpatient dietitian in a hospital setting, working at a nursing home, or being in private practice. More than 20 years later, the job opportunities in the field of dietetics have become plentiful. Here are some of the dietetics jobs in which my fellow RDs are prospering.
Whether in the front of the store or in the corporate office, RDs are now a big part of supermarkets.
In-store dietitians offer consumers advice on what healthful foods to buy, host cooking demos, provide recipes, and also take part in community nutrition education. Corporate dietitians usually don’t have as much contact with consumers as in-store RDs, but they do provide input on nutrition programs and types of products being sold.
Food and Nutrition Bloggers
With the expansion of the Internet over the past 20 years has come an influx of food and nutrition bloggers. I began blogging for FoodNetwork.com’s Healthy Eats when no one really knew what blogging was. Today, you can find several hundred RD bloggers who specialize in a variety of areas including diabetes, digestive disorders, heart disease, cancer, food myths, sports and fitness, and weight management. Dietitians can find a comprehensive blog directory at Nutrition Blog Network.
Many public relations agencies that specialize in the food industry are hiring RDs to help with marketing and communications for food companies, commodities, and associations. Some of the duties include organizing events, creating and communicating nutrition messaging, and helping with RD outreach.
Long Term Care
Facilities understand the value of RDs to the health and wellness of older adults in long term care, where regulations may require the availability of dietitians to evaluate patients, plan menus, and fill other roles. RDs aren’t only in nursing homes but also in hospice and palliative care facilities.
Workplace wellness programs have boomed over the past 20 years, and employers see the value of healthy employees. RDs provide an array of services including one-on-one counseling, cooking demos, education sessions, health screening, and input on menu planning for onsite foodservice. The services provided depend on the type of wellness program in place.
RDs work with athletes of all ages and fitness levels in professional baseball, hockey, and basketball. Colleges and universities also hire sports dietitians to help counsel athletes and provide nutrition education to teams.
Specialized Clinical Dietitians
Many RDs now specialize in various clinical areas in a hospital, medical practice, specialty program, or in private practice. Some dietitians specialize in gastrointestinal disorders, diabetes, pediatrics, geriatrics, pregnancy and lactation, and renal nutrition. Many of these RDs also are consultants to media outlets and provide information and interviews or write articles for online and print publications.
The job descriptions mentioned above just scratch the surface. There are many other opportunities available for RDs throughout the country. If you feel there’s a niche to be filled in your area, seize the opportunity. The RD world offers much support through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Dietetic Practice Groups and its LISTSERVs.
— Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is the founder of Toby Amidor Nutrition (http://tobyamidornutrition.com) and the author of the cookbook The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day. She’s also a nutrition expert for FoodNetwork.com and a contributor to US News Eat + Run, MensFitness.com, and Muscle & Fitness.