Nutrition vs Clinical Nutrition/Dietetics: Career ROI

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Updated: February 19, 2024, Reading time: 5 minutes

Nutrition vs Dietetics - featured image

In the field of Nutrition, the two most popular studies are Nutrition and Dietetics. What exactly sets them apart? 

Nutrition vs Dietetics - fact

The idea that a Dietitian and a Nutritionist do similar work makes a good point. Both are fundamentally about encouraging and maintaining health and wellness centered on food consumption. Students of either discipline must also enroll in a program or school that is Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics-approved.

However, certain distinctions between the two are notable in the objectives and methods used in the profession, educational requirements, and outcomes.

What Does A Nutritionist Do?

What Does A Nutritionist Do - Image

People’s bodies’ capacity to function at their best is greatly impacted by the food they eat!

In addition to keeping the body healthy, good Nutrition shields it from diseases. An appropriate diet, as advised by a nutritionist, can also help promote healing and recovery from sickness.

Nutrition Education and Career Paths

A Nutrition undergraduate program features the basic courses of physiology and health education. You can become a nutritionist with a bachelor’s degree, but you may pursue the MS in Nutritional Sciences to elevate your level of expertise and qualify for higher-level occupations.

By teaching and advising individuals on healthy and therapeutic diets, nutritionists help people live healthier and better manage common health problems. They counsel clients and advise them on what to eat (and not to eat!) to alleviate basic or minor health conditions, improve their health, and promote their overall wellness.

Nutritionists take on these jobs:

A career in Nutrition is for you if:

A career in Nutrition is Not A Great Fit if:

What is Clinical Nutrition or Dietetics?

What Is Clinical Nutrition or Dietetics - Image

A subfield of healthcare that is closely similar to Nutrition, Dietetics focuses on how Nutrition affects human health. Issues like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity can be mediated and controlled through Dietetics.

Did you know that Dietetics is also called Clinical Nutrition? This discipline and professional practice hinges fundamentally on and uses the principles of Nutrition for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of long-term illnesses. 

While social media launches a lot of diet programs, the truth is you should only rely on dietitians when it comes to accurate health and diet advice! Dietitians are licensed medical practitioners who can evaluate, identify, and handle issues related to food and Nutrition.

They evaluate a person’s nutritional status using a variety of informational factors, including lifestyle choices, medical tests, underlying illnesses, and family and medical histories.

Education and Career Paths of Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs)

Dietitians typically gain formal education in Nutrition from a school that is approved by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics. At the undergraduate level, they complete a supervised practice program or an accredited dietetic internship that allows students to gain relevant experience and put their skills to the test.

Upon completing a master’s program in Dietetics, graduates must ace the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) national exam to become licensed or Registered Dietitian Nutritionists.

RDNs qualify for work in medical or healthcare facilities, schools, and private practice where they assess nutritional needs, create personalized meal plans, conduct medical nutrition therapies, and educate their clients about eating healthy.

RDNs also collaborate with other healthcare professionals to manage medical conditions and help individuals achieve their health goals. The discipline also taps into the diet and chronic disease curriculum of Food Science Technology.

RDNs’ specific job positions include:

A Doctor of Clinical Nutrition or Dietetics involves extensive research and knowledge of the principles of advanced-level professional practice in the field. It is ideal for clinical nutritionists pursuing leadership and research-intensive positions in the field or a teaching profession.

A career in Clinical Nutrition/Dietetics is for you if:

A career in Clinical Nutrition/Dietetics is Not A Great Fit if:

A Quick Look At the Differences Between Nutrition and Dietetics

A Quick Look At the Differences Between Nutrition and Dietetics - Image
NutritionistClinical Nutritionist/Dietetian
Average Salaries$51,019$80,907
Job Growth7% or 5,600 openings each year (2022-2032)
License/s RequiredNonePass the Commission on Dietetic Registration or CDR exam to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)
Benefits to Patients/ClientsDeliver to patients or clients the basic requirements for overall health and Nutrition through appropriate meal plans.Keep health conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or even cancers associated with obesity, under control through nutritional intervention.

There is a lot of overlap between the work that nutritionists and clinical nutritionists or dietitians do, but it all boils down to the specialized training that the latter acquires over the former. The difference lies in the medical and diagnostic aspects of Dietetics, which nutrition does not cover.

The standard notion is that all dietitians can be called nutritionists, but not all nutritionists can be called dietitians.

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