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A dietitian is defined as a nutrition expert. As an expert in nutrition, a dietitian knows the calorie content of individual foods according to measured portions. A dietitian is given orders by physicians whose patients are required to be on special diets due to their particular illness or even to a mental disorder. Becoming a dietitian is challenging mentally and professionally. A four year degree from a college or university that offers degrees in nutrition is required in many states to become a registered dietitian. Becoming a registered dietitian means that you have completed a four year degree plus you have been accepted and successfully completed a residency in a major hospital or clinic that trains four year college graduates in dietetics. There is also a two year program offered in some colleges, but the two year degree does not meet the state standards in most states to become a registered dietitian.
A natural clinical approach to food and liquids along with a detail oriented personality are part of the requirements to become a successful dietitian. Having people skills is also important as dietitians must visit with patients in hospitals or in clinics to assess their diet and to make menu options for those patients. In addition, dietitians need to interact positively with hospital or clinical staff as patients are evaluated and food trays are planned. Dietitians who work in private physical fitness or in private practice require skills in cost management and in food preparation as well as in clinical assessment of food make up. Job openings for qualified, registered dietitians are growing as more and more people outside of the customary work place of the hospital are looking for diets that will work to make them feel and look better. Also, salaries for dietitians are also growing and the prospects of commanding a salary on par with other mental health professionals is also growing. The average dietician makes $55,920 a year.