Dietitians are licensed professionals who help their clients develop better nutritional practices to develop healthier bodies. They work with all kinds of people in a variety of settings. If you’re fascinated by food science, healthy eating, and how the body works, dietetics may be a great career choice for you. Here’s a look at the pros and cons of being a dietician.
Pro: You’re helping people become healthier every day.
An unfortunate consequence of the abundance of food in our country is that we often fail to eat for need rather than for want. While this in itself can lead to a lot of severe health issues, many people with serious illnesses can also benefit from eating healthier. As a dietician, you can directly impact people’s diets, and in turn directly impact their overall health. For someone who’s interested in food science and medicine, this can be a great combination.
Con: Working with patients who have a limited life expectancy can be tough.
Many dieticians work in hospitals and private clinics and have to treat very sick individuals who need as much help as possible. Working in these places, as well as other institutions such as nursing homes, can bring you into contact with a lot of terminally ill or geriatric patients. This means that even if you aren’t directly working with them on fatal illnesses, you still have to come to terms with the fact that you may lose patients you have become close to.
Pro: You can work in many different places.
Being a dietician offers a wide range of opportunities. Dietitians are needed not only in the hospitals and nursing homes mentioned above but other institutions like schools, prisons, general health clinics, and other places that serve food to a lot of people. As a dietitian, this means you can pick and choose from different specializations, settings, and even populations to ensure you enjoy what you’re doing.
Con: There are a lot of educational and training requirements.
Being a dietitian comes with a lot of prerequisites. While you may find entry level positions with only a bachelor’s degree, you’ll have more options and make more money with an advanced education. Unfortunately, this can take many years and a lot of money to complete. After college you also have to undergo supervised training, followed by achieving specific credentials through special courses.
Pro: The rate of job growth is higher than average and the pay isn’t too bad.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), dietitians and nutritionists are expected to see a job growth rate of about 16% over the next 10 years. While this may not seem like much at first, it’s actually considered much higher than average. This means that you’ll have plenty of opportunities to find suitable places to be employed. Additionally, the BLS states that the median pay for these professions is about $57,000; the upper and lower 10% may be as much as $80,000 or as little as $35,000. Your education, experience, specialization, location, and the institution you work in will all greatly affect these numbers as well.
Con: You’ll have to follow regulations and stay up to date.
Dietitians are required to learn nutrition and food science under a governing body. Many of these decisions related to food health are under the care of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and unfortunately, these departments can take corporate pockets into account more than the public’s well being. Another thing to take into account is that training doesn’t end with a certificate to hang on your wall. The credentials you’re required to get also entail continued education courses. Scientists are still learning about food and its effect on the body, which means you have to be prepared to continue learning throughout your career.