If you’re interested in becoming a dietitian or nutritionist, there are different training and educational options available to you. Before you make a decision you’ll want to make sure you’re clear on your goals for your career and enroll in a training program that will help you reach those goals.
One of the most popular types of training programs is a Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD). DPD refers to an academic program from an accredited college or university. There are Associates, Bachelor’s, or Master’s programs available. A DPD is designed to provide students with the foundational knowledge they need to begin a career as a dietitian.
But before we go into DPDs in more detail and whether this training option is for you, let’s talk a bit more about where the field of dietetics is headed and what opportunities await you as a dietitian.
Is Becoming A Dietitian Worth It?
The short answer? Yes! More and more people are recognizing the myriad benefits of following a nutrition-based diet and the powerful role food plays in treating illness and disease. If you’re passionate about health and wellness, becoming a dietitian will help you put that passion to work. Not to mention, the field of dietetics is growing!
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), “employment of dietitians and nutritionists is projected to grow 15 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations.” The BLS also states that the average pay for a dietitian is almost $60,000.
As we mentioned, the role of food in preventing and treating diseases is well-established—and dietitians play an integral role in teaching others how to use food as medicine. Dietitians provide care and advice for people with various medical conditions who want to improve their overall health and customize meal plans to help them thrive through nutrition.
When it comes to employment, dietitians have many options to create a rewarding career that fulfills them. They can:
- Work in hospitals or rehabilitation centers assisting patients of all ages who are recovering from illness or surgery
- Work with non-profits or corporations in wellness programs
- Work with doctors, chiropractors, gyms, and other wellness professionals
- Work with clients directly in private practice
- Work within government programs
- Work in food production or testing
- Share their knowledge through teaching, writing, speaking, or social media
…and so much more!
One thing’s for sure—dietitians can use their skills and knowledge to impact health and nutrition in a variety of exciting ways. Now let’s talk about what to expect when you enroll in a DPD.
What to Expect When You’re a Dietetics Major
While no program or school is exactly the same, if you enroll in a DPD, you can expect to study the same basic topics. You’ll take courses in nutrition, chemistry, math, biochemistry, sociology/psychology, and physiology, among other things.
Many DPDs are approved by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND), with both Bachelor’s and Master’s programs available. There are two types of ACEND-accredited programs: coordinated programs in dietetics (CP) and DPD. The main difference is that a DPD requires an internship prior to completing the CDR exam.
Completion of a DPD allows the graduate to apply for a supervised internship, which must be approved by ACEND. After the internship is completed successfully, DPD grads must be registered with the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) and pass the CDR registration examination. Following that, they can obtain employment, but must also continue professional development and education in order to maintain their CDR registration.
There is one other option for completing your DPD. Distance dietetics programs allow students to complete coursework remotely—a great option for students who need more flexibility in their education.
A DPD enables future dietitians to:
- Direct nutrition programs
- Conduct research
- Assist with policy development
- Work in clinical settings, universities, sports offices, wellness programs, government agencies, schools, and in private practice
How is a Dietetic Technician Program Different?
Dietetic Technician Programs are specifically designed for individuals who are interested in becoming a dietetic technician. Dietetic technicians work alongside registered dietitians and assist in the planning of menus for individuals and groups. They help educate patients about making healthy food choices and can sometimes assist in dietary operations (such as ordering food and managing budgets) for nursing homes, schools, prisons, and hospitals.
Dietetic technicians must obtain an Associate’s degree approved by the American Dietetic Association and complete supervised training hours and then pass the CDR exam.
Dietetic technicians can work in a number of different settings. Sometimes they work alongside dietitians in hospitals, nursing homes, and long-term or hospice care facilities. They can also work in schools, daycare centers, weight loss clinics, or within government agencies to provide meal planning or consultation services. They can also launch private practices where they work directly with clients. Finally, some dietetic technicians work in the foodservice industry, helping companies create healthy prepared food and making sure food labels are correct.
How HCI Can Help You Launch a Successful Dietitian Career
Our six-month nutrition training is designed to help anyone interested in launching a successful career in dietetics:
- Make a great living helping others heal their bodies with good nutrition
- Be on the forefront of powerful healthcare solutions
- Learn a new healthcare paradigm that sets our graduates apart
Our online training program takes a practical, functional approach to nutrition that will teach you how to empower others to transform their lives through food. Watch our webinar now to learn what sets our nutrition training apart from the rest and how it can complement your educational training to become a dietitian or other nutrition practitioner.
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