Nutritionist vs Dietician: Which Suits You Better?

If you’re entering the world of nutritional care and wondering which career to pursue, then this post is for you. Nutritionist vs Dietician – which is your destiny? Check out the key differences and decide.

Nutritionist vs Dietician
Nutritionist vs Dietician

Nutritionist vs Dietician: What are they?

A nutritionist is a person who advises others on nutrition and food knowledge to promote healthy societies. Nutritionists are not necessarily certificated and often specialize in particular areas, such as sports, public health, or animal.

Whereas, a dietician is a health professional with a degree specializing in food and nutrition. They promote and optimize the health of individuals and communities by identifying, preventing and treating disease-related malnutrition and in conducting medical nutrition therapy, through the science of nutrition. 

You would be referred to a dietitian if your needs are medical (such as diabetes, kidney disease, or cancer) or a nutritionist if you aim to lose weight or improve your overall health.

Day-to-day Tasks

Nutritionists use a holistic approach to assist their clients in improving their eating habits and living healthy lifestyles. Nutritionist jobs may focus on weight loss, nutritional or hormonal balance, digestion, or food allergies. 

Day-to-day Tasks
Day-to-day Tasks

A nutritionist’s roles often include:

  • Create diet and exercise plans for clients
  • Educate patients and clients about food selection and nutrition principles
  • Schedule regular meetings with clients
  • Provide group cooking classes or recipe books
  • Give presentations about nutrition, diet, and food
  • Provide direction and motivation to help a person adjust their lifestyle for improved dietary behaviours. 

Both of these two careers are jobs that you can work remotely. While you usually find a nutritionist being self-employed and maintaining their own practice, a dietician often works alongside doctors, nurses, or other health practitioners in hospitals and clinics.  

Dieticians won’t simply offer up a meal plan or diet plan, they aim to provide custom-tailored advice to help meet customers’ needs and specific challenges. They often work with clients who have medical conditions like diabetes, coeliac disease, eating disorders, or allergies.

 A dietician’s roles often include:

  • Make a meal plan for general patients, for special requests, or for critical needs
  • Counsel and sustain patient morale
  • Maintain documentation from aides and management as a daily routine
  • Follow up what has or hasn’t worked for a patient to provide proper meals afterward
  • Ensure the cleanliness of a workspace and proper use of utensils during food preparation
  • Educate health professionals and the public about nutrition

Basic Requirements

In the United States, anyone can call themselves a nutritionist as there are no government or industry regulations on the term. There are no educational requirements or guidelines for the term, so anyone offering general nutritional advice can call themselves a nutritionist.

Basic Requirements
Basic Requirements

Nevertheless, you might earn advanced degrees and nutritionist certification to obtain the protected title of certified nutrition specialist (CNS) or a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) credential. 

Meanwhile, dietitian jobs require:

  • A bachelor’s degree approved by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Supervised experience at an accredited healthcare facility, community agency, or foodservice corporation
  • A national exam assessed by the Commission on Dietetic Registration
  • Continuing professional education requirements – you may have to be re-assessed each year

Salary

Typically, there is no big difference between the salaries of these two jobs. In the United States, the average nutritionist salary is $45,392 per year, as of May 2021, about $10,000 lower compared to that of a dietician. Depending on education, certifications, additional skills, and the number of years you have spent in your profession, you can earn up to $77,000 per year when pursuing nutrition and dietetics careers.

Nutritionist vs Dietician: Conclusion

Although dietitians and nutritionists both help people design the best diets and foods to meet their health needs, they have different responsibilities, requirements, and benefits. And the biggest difference comes to their purpose: nutritionists focus on losing weight and improving overall health while dietitians meet medical needs for patients with diabetes, or kidney disease.