Pediatric Dietitian: Education and Career Information
If you are a person that cares about nutrition, health and children, you may want to consider pursuing a career as a pediatric dietitian. This can be a financially rewarding career path for someone who has an appreciation for helping others and is concerned about proper eating habits and healthy living. A career as a dietitian is very interesting, especially if you are helping to promote change for the betterment of children’s lives.
What does a pediatric dietitian do?
A pediatric dietitian is also called a pediatric nutritionist. They work with children to coordinate eating healthy, creating healthy menus and catering to children with special dietetic needs. They are licensed in their field, and can safely evaluate nutrition programs, suggest dietary modifications, and develop weight management plans. You can find pediatric dietitians in hospitals, clinics, public and private schools, wellness centers and government agencies. They are able to provide nutritional services for schools, assist governmental regulations for developing meal plans, and other varied duties.
How much does a pediatric dietitian earn?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary is about $55,920, but on a lower salary, this position makes about $33,980. On the high side, pediatric dietitians can make up to and over $78,000 per year. Salaries are determined by state, specializations, and experience.
What types of skills does a pediatric dietitian need to be successful?
There are a number of skills needed to be successful as a pediatric dietician. Some of the most important are:
Good Judgment: A pediatric dietitian must have good judgment when evaluating programs and making recommendations for children and their eating habits. It’s important to understand the factors that are involved in making good decisions and proactively work to exercise those skills at all time.
Decision making: Being able to make concrete decisions is crucial. When dealing with food and healthy habits, this position must take the lead in making hard decisions on what foods to eat, how they should be prepared and which foods should be eliminated from the diet.
Instruction: A sufficient level of instruction is needed in this position to direct others on food preparation, conduct workshops and inform why certain foods are needed and others aren’t. Being able to instruct food teams and other professionals makes a difference in the level of education others receive.
Customer Service: In every instance, good customer service makes the difference. This position deals with a number of people at different times, including children and being able to transition from one situation to another flawlessly with a great attitude is major.
Communication: Communication is a big factor and works hand in hand with customer service. You must be diverse and have the ability to deal with a number of people, effectively communicating with them on their level.
Logic and critical thinking: Being able to think logically and critically is essential to getting the job done. Knowing how to navigate among the decision makers and other variables to complete important tasks at hand.
Writing: Putting together dietary plans and other information that needs to be disseminated requires a high writing competency. This position requires a lot of writing and handling directives. This position may also have to write grants and proposals, or briefs when dealing with governmental agencies
Speaking: Public speaking is a large component in this position, and being able to speak clearly and succinctly is important. Taking the time to make sure all clients fully understand is vital.
Listening: Listening to clients is important, especially when formulating dietary plans. There are a number of things that could go wrong or need to be changed or altered.
Reading comprehension: Being able to read is very important in this position. It is crucial to be able to read well to understand and comprehend new information, so that the information being disseminated is accurate, and when writing on information read, it is accurate.
Knowledge of math and science: In nutrition, having a good grasp of math and science is beneficial, as there are a number of calculations and measurements needed to be able to assess dietary constraints and other information.
An internship is required to complete the program, but the amount of time needed is dependent on the particular program. Research modules are also needed in order to successfully progress through the program.
To become a pediatric dietitian, there are a number of requirements, starting with a four-year program from an accredited university or college. Coursework in the undergraduate nutrition program includes food science, human anatomy, biology, dietetics, biochemistry, chemistry, organic chemistry, physiology. This program provides hands-on laboratory experience, research methods, concepts and ethical issues.
Once a bachelor’s degree is obtained, there are additional classes in pediatrics and niche work that is required for certification, including dietary requirements, specialized nutritional needs for children, and pre-term nutrition. There are advanced degree programs that are also available in nutrition that could impact the earning potential of this position. Individuals with advanced degrees can go on to work in high paying positions for the government, and in research facilities. These individuals can also teach nutrition classes at the college level for those students who are aspiring to have these credentials.
The educational components vary based on the program and school. This is a highly specialized position. To become a registered dietitian, the individual must take and pass the Registration Examination for Dietitians. Licensing requirements vary by state, and continuing education credits are needed every five years. Doing the research and fieldwork is an important component and plays a large role in being successfully prepared for the exam.
If you are searching for a career that can benefit you financially and help you in your quest to do something to assist children in leading healthy lives, this could be the position for you.