I have to interview a dietitian. Could you answer a few of my questions?

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I am a student at the University of Cincinnati. In my freshman English class, I am required to do a research paper dealing with my major. I have to interview a dietitian and discovered you on the Internet. I would really appreciate it if you could answer a few of my questions. My deadline is coming soon, so I would really appreciate your time and if possible could you give me a response within the next day or two? Thank you!

What college did you attend? What made you choose this profession? Do you like your job? How did you get where you are today? What are some of the struggles in being a dietitian? What are some of your achievements? What kind of things do you do in a day? What is the starting salary of a dietitian and what are the opportunities for advancement? This is the most important question for my paper. What are some of the different types of jobs a person majoring in dietetics can get/perform?

Thank you again for your time.

I attended the University of Northern Colorado for my undergraduate degree and North Dakota State University for my graduate degree. You can find a list of colleges that offer dietetic programs at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics approved education programs.

Actually, I became a dietitian because the market for Home Economics teachers was flooded when I was a freshman in college. My best friend from high school’s Dad worked for Cellu Featherweight dietetic foods and he suggested dietetics because their company had a dietitian. Besides I love to cook. Seemed like a good fit for me and high school chemistry was my favorite subject which supports the science-based dietetics career.

I have the greatest job in the world in that I get to design software that people can use to make healthier food choices and network with people from all over the world on the Internet. I have found that people’s nutrition problems are very similar the world over.

I have been very lucky in being in the right place at the right time and have had a good network of colleagues that encouraged me to take risks. I am very intuitive and have often taken jobs that were over my head, but I was willing to seize the opportunity and learn something new. All I wanted was to be a dietitian working with patients in a hospital and someday to teach nutrition in a medical school. Since I achieved those goals by my late 30’s, I continued to try different jobs that were offered to me. I have not taken a course in computers, yet I have been designing software/databases since 1989, websites since 1995 and phone apps since 2000. I don’t live my life planned out in the future as I want to ready for any opportunity that knocks.

The biggest struggle is that people are always looking for a quick weight loss diet or one food that will solve all their weight problems. A new fad diet hits the media and everyone wants to try it rather than seeing a dietitian for a personalized weight loss plan that will be successful long-term.

My biggest professional achievement is the success of thousands of patients, students and Internet visitors in changing their eating habits to reach their nutritional goals with my coaching. When people change their eating habits to improve their health, I am happy especially when the tools or these FAQs I create are a part of their process.

I work with computers most of the day, marketing nutrition or health products, developing software or food databases for phone apps and Internet websites in addition to answering email questions for Ask the Dietitian®. If you are interested in the field of dietetics, I would highly recommend you talk to several dietitians where you live about their jobs or typical work activities. Ask to follow a dietitian who is doing the jobs in which you are interested.

The starting salary for dietitians varies around the country and depends on whether you work with patients or in food service. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has surveyed members and reports the results in the Academy’s journal as well as in a book you can buy. You can contact the Academy about the results of the Compensation and Benefits Survey of the Dietetics Profession. Dietitians who work with patients average $61,000 per year and dietitians who work in food service average $75,000 per year (2013 survey results). Dietitians who choose to open a private practice set their own hourly fees and may or may not choose to accept reimbursement from health insurance companies. Salary varies depending on where you live which is typical of most careers.

The opportunities for a career as s dietitian are only limited by your imagination. You can become the head of a clinical service in healthcare, work in your own private practice or head of a food service. Or you can become a consultant and work for any company that manufactures food. Jobs vary from working with patients or working with foods. Remember everybody on this planet eats and is in need of good nutrition information. Go check out the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website for info on dietitian careers.