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Dietitian

Qualifications

Every state has their own guidelines for dietitians. Typically, dietitians must get a license to receive a Registered Dietitian credential. To earn a license, you need to complete a bachelor's degree, undergo supervised practice, and take an exam. 

Dietitians generally earn their bachelor's degree in foods and nutrition, dietetics food service systems, or other related fields. Basically, you'll need to be not only a food fan, but also a science and math person as well. Programs consist of chemistry, biology, nutrition, and physiology.

As soon as you put away your cap and gown, you need to apply for a program that's accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). These programs take place in medical facilities, hospitals, community agencies, or food service corporations. They can last anywhere from six to twelve months.

Once you finish your program, you can take a national examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration. The exam may ask you this type of question: "Vegetables with thiols are considered to be the most protective against cancer. Thiols are found in:

    A. Flax seed, oats, and barley
    B. Food with blue, blue-red, and violet pigments
    C. Prunes and dried fruits
    D. The cabbage family
    E. Haystacks

The answer is D—and thank goodness, because you could spend all day looking for a thiol in a haystack.

When you obtain your license, you're ready to rock and roll on the nutritional circuit. Most employers require that you earn and maintain your R.D. license. To maintain the license, you have to take continuing education courses. 

Your days of homework and classes are never over when you become a dietitian because new findings are published every day, and nutritionists need to take the latest information into account when giving advice or creating meal plans for their clients. For example, is red meat in or out this week?