Dietitian Central for Nutrition Professionals   Home   Continuing Education    Dietitian Jobs      Dietitian Directory   Experts Corner Surveys Forums Advertisers
• MESSAGE BOARDS •
15,571 Registered Members    /    Join   Login


    [ en sp it ]
View All Forums   |    Start New Thread   |   Search    
Student Discussions: How hard is it to become a dietitian? Internship?
Post New Message in Thread
11/05/08 04:55 PM | Edit ReplyReply   |    How hard is it to become a dietitian? Internship?
jmido8
1 Post

Registered Dietitian

I'm new out of highschool, my first semester at a community college. I'm having a very difficult time deciding what to become. One of my more favored choices is a registered dietitian! I'm very nervous about it though. I'm not very good at science and the program I have to do is filled with science classes. I have also heard that the internship programs are very competitive and hard to get into. My GPA after my first semester is looking to be about a 3.0. If I take these classes, I'm guessing I'll end with a 2.6 GPA. I'm only an average student. I'm afraid that a GPA like this won't qualify me for an internship and the 4 years of school would have been a waste.

Also, can anyone give me the average salary of a dietitian out of college and the average salary after a few years under the belt? What would be the most that an average student like myself could expect to earn from becoming a dietitian, if I can even make it?

11/06/08 03:05 AM | Edit ReplyReply   |    RE: How hard is it to become a dietitian? Internship?
xsimpl3yxsarahx
3 Posts
Murrieta CA
Registered Dietitian


    Posted by jmido8:
    I'm new out of highschool, my first semester at a community college. I'm having a very difficult time deciding what to become. One of my more favored choices is a registered dietitian! I'm very nervous about it though. I'm not very good at science and the program I have to do is filled with science classes. I have also heard that the internship programs are very competitive and hard to get into. My GPA after my first semester is looking to be about a 3.0. If I take these classes, I'm guessing I'll end with a 2.6 GPA. I'm only an average student. I'm afraid that a GPA like this won't qualify me for an internship and the 4 years of school would have been a waste.

    Also, can anyone give me the average salary of a dietitian out of college and the average salary after a few years under the belt? What would be the most that an average student like myself could expect to earn from becoming a dietitian, if I can even make it?


I am in the exact same boat as you, I am just a average student, not too good in science, but have always had a passion for helping people, and also a passion for food. I would love to hear someones answer!

11/06/08 03:08 AM | Edit ReplyReply   |    RE: How hard is it to become a dietitian? Internship?
xsimpl3yxsarahx
3 Posts
Murrieta CA
Registered Dietitian


    Posted by xsimpl3yxsarahx:

      Posted by jmido8:
      I'm new out of highschool, my first semester at a community college. I'm having a very difficult time deciding what to become. One of my more favored choices is a registered dietitian! I'm very nervous about it though. I'm not very good at science and the program I have to do is filled with science classes. I have also heard that the internship programs are very competitive and hard to get into. My GPA after my first semester is looking to be about a 3.0. If I take these classes, I'm guessing I'll end with a 2.6 GPA. I'm only an average student. I'm afraid that a GPA like this won't qualify me for an internship and the 4 years of school would have been a waste.

      Also, can anyone give me the average salary of a dietitian out of college and the average salary after a few years under the belt? What would be the most that an average student like myself could expect to earn from becoming a dietitian, if I can even make it?


    I am in the exact same boat as you, I am just a average student, not too good in science, but have always had a passion for helping people, and also a passion for food. I would love to hear someones answer!

    I also have another question, how much does a dietician in california make? I have seen so many different salaries I dont know which one is true, so id like to hear this coming from a RD. I have seen after earning your masters RD's only earn 48,000...This just does not seem right...Please someone inform me :)

11/06/08 06:58 AM | Edit ReplyReply   |    RD
peacelove
271 Posts
Atlanta GA
Registered Dietitian

Hello! First ask yourself what you really want to do..not thinking about money. Of course making money is important but you must love what you do and have a passion for it.

I too was an "average" student in high school, yet I excelled in college. I got the 'education bug' in college. And am now working on my masters. I think there is a different attitude when you get to choose your study path and you have a desire and passion to learn what you are studying. Maybe your first year, take a few classes in different areas to decide, there is nothing wrong with that. They have 100 level course for non-nutrition majors, so you could take that as an elective to get a feel for nutrition. Also, I wish I would have either double majored or minored in something. that way again, you have options. combinging pyschology or exercise with nutrition would be a great route to go!

In general, RD's do not make a lot of money compared to other health care professionals. But being an RD is also a profession where I feel one needs to make your own path to be able to do the area of nutrtion that you desire most. There is SO many different areas to work in being an RD. Clinical, community, food service, etc. You usually do not start off where you want to be especailly it is is a non-traditional role such as working in a gym.

Remember there is nothing wrong with changing your mind after you start a program. I did it...more than once! It takes some people more time to find your true passion. and that is OK.

I have been an RD for over 5 years and it truly is a profession filled with people who care about others and want to help others. Yes, we struggle to get the respect and pay that we deserve, and it is slowly coming around. As new people enter this field, they must demand respect (yet earn the respect) and high pay from the get-go. and that will help to build this profession.

I hope that helps a bit. Dont sell yourself short because you think you are an "average" student. Apply yourself and you will excel. I have to study hard, whereas others get it right away, so i have to invest more time, but I still do well and that is just the way it is. everyone learns differently. make sure you acquire the study habits needed for you.

11/06/08 03:58 PM | Edit ReplyReply   |    How hard is it to become a dietitian? Internship?
26faster
70 Posts

Registered Dietitian

I'm not saying this to be a downer because I agree when you are motivated and eager to learn it makes the whole process more rewarding and easier. However, there is a lot of hard science coursework necessary to enter into this profession (chemistry, biochem, organic, microbiolody, anatomy, etc). You'll also need some of these classes at the upper-level division (4 year college vs community college).

I ran an internship for a period time and we did look at overall GPA as well as GPA in the hard sciences.

Take a class or 2, work hard and see how you do. Give yourself a chance and then realistically assess what your strengths are and whether this is the right choice for you. Everyone has their strengths, you just need to figure out where yours are and tap into them. There are endless career options/paths to choose from.

If its going to be a struggle for you and you come out there other side of your education and run into a roadblock with difficulity getting an internship only to get into a profession that isn't great in terms of pay. That's something to take into account.

Just a few thoughts! Again not trying to be a downer just trying to give you a heads up. :)

11/06/08 09:35 PM | Edit ReplyReply   |    RE: How hard is it to become a dietitian? Internship?
xsimpl3yxsarahx
3 Posts
Murrieta CA
Registered Dietitian


    Posted by 26faster:
    I'm not saying this to be a downer because I agree when you are motivated and eager to learn it makes the whole process more rewarding and easier. However, there is a lot of hard science coursework necessary to enter into this profession (chemistry, biochem, organic, microbiolody, anatomy, etc). You'll also need some of these classes at the upper-level division (4 year college vs community college).

    I ran an internship for a period time and we did look at overall GPA as well as GPA in the hard sciences.

    Take a class or 2, work hard and see how you do. Give yourself a chance and then realistically assess what your strengths are and whether this is the right choice for you. Everyone has their strengths, you just need to figure out where yours are and tap into them. There are endless career options/paths to choose from.

    If its going to be a struggle for you and you come out there other side of your education and run into a roadblock with difficulity getting an internship only to get into a profession that isn't great in terms of pay. That's something to take into account.

    Just a few thoughts! Again not trying to be a downer just trying to give you a heads up. :)


I know its not all about the money but it wouldb e nice to know the true starting wage of dieticians in california....

11/07/08 04:14 PM | Edit ReplyReply   |    How hard is it to become a dietitian? Internship?
26faster
70 Posts

Registered Dietitian

Well...I think a lot of that depends on experience, which part of Cali you are living in and which type of setting.

From my experience, I lived in the Midwest and on the East Coast in large metropolitan areas the salaries are much higher in California. In the LA area of Cali based on salary wizard information it looks like the median (half make more, half make less) is ~$55,000 or $26/hour. Keep in mind this is before taxes (Cali has very high taxes compared to other places I've lived) and LA is a very expensive place to live. Being that I am in management I make signicantly more than that but still 50% of my salary goes to rent & I have 2 jobs.

I think if I was in high school working at my part time $8/hour job or whatever and living at home. Making $26/hour would have sounded like plenty. It wasn't until I finished grad school and started working, that the reality of what everything really costs hits.

Which is why I am working hard to transition into another field in healthcare. Being a dietitian and living in Southern Cali at least for me is not sustainable.

I've said it before, but while I think this is an important profession and great career in a lot of ways. Its perfect for someone who is married and $55,000 can be a supplemental income. It'd be very hard to own a home, raise a child and/or get ahead on your own in this profession. This is just my bias but I wouldn't recommend this field to someone just starting out based on my experience. You'd have to be someone with a real passionate for nutrition who is willing to give a lot of things up in order to be a dietitian.

11/07/08 04:39 PM | Edit ReplyReply   |    RD
peacelove
271 Posts
Atlanta GA
Registered Dietitian

I agree that you should identify your strengths and see what fits you best. Science is not for everyone. I am not good at math and know it! So it is best to identify the best route for you.

I also agree that being an RD is financially tough. I am back in school, to change my path a bit, I will probably still be an RD, but will be able to focus on youth more with a masters in youth development. going the traditional route as an RD, was not successful for me and I did not enjoy it, but I have paved my own path and have increased my salary along the way. I am still not where I want to be, but the longer you are an RD the more respect you earn and more opportunities arise.

Take time to figure out where your passion is. then follow it.

11/15/08 06:41 PM | Edit ReplyReply   |    RE: How hard is it to become a dietitian? Internship?
PrettySweet
3 Posts

Registered Dietitian


    Posted by jmido8:
    I'm new out of highschool, my first semester at a community college. I'm having a very difficult time deciding what to become. One of my more favored choices is a registered dietitian! I'm very nervous about it though. I'm not very good at science and the program I have to do is filled with science classes. I have also heard that the internship programs are very competitive and hard to get into. My GPA after my first semester is looking to be about a 3.0. If I take these classes, I'm guessing I'll end with a 2.6 GPA. I'm only an average student. I'm afraid that a GPA like this won't qualify me for an internship and the 4 years of school would have been a waste.

    Also, can anyone give me the average salary of a dietitian out of college and the average salary after a few years under the belt? What would be the most that an average student like myself could expect to earn from becoming a dietitian, if I can even make it?


Being a nontraditional student in dietetics, I went to school parttime and worked fulltime evenings at a local hospital. I loved the class work as it was challenging and very interesting to me. When I finally graduated (it took me more than 4 years) and I started thinking about going into the field, the path seemed to be strewn with with so much ADA regulation, cost and stress I didn't think it would be worth it to me even with a scholarship to get my masters thrown into the equation.

From what I gather a lot of people in the field are not happy with what they have had to put forth in terms of human sacrifice to have those RD initials behind their name as it doesn't pay well (30-40K) and there is lack of professional respect in the medical arena for the field.

This is really a shame because diabetes is skyrocketing these days as is heart disease, eating disorders and the host of diseases that are result of these conditions. This is the time for professions such as dietetics to come out of their lowly crypts and shine brightly and start having an impact for everything they stand for. Problems students face after graduation: 1. The ADA makes it very difficult for students to obtain internships easily and cheaply. 2. Educators sometimes being less than helpful. 3. RD candidates having to jump through hoops and pay ungodly amounts of money to pass that test to obtain their credentials.

If you are lucky enough to get past go, you try to get a job and even then you are scrutinized and made to feel you barely meet the grade and the low salary speaks for itself.

All of this is not really that amazing when you consider that our healthcare system is a total mess and if you really want to survive in this world, you don't go near it or avoid it like the plague.

Maybe with this next administration in Washington, we will see some changes in the ADA and their rules and regulations regarding dietetic majors and hopefully a total revamping of healthcare and the way it is delivered.

11/19/08 03:06 PM | Edit ReplyReply   |    RE: How hard is it to become a dietitian? Internship?
mlrine
102 Posts

Registered Dietitian


    Posted by jmido8:
    I'm new out of highschool, my first semester at a community college. I'm having a very difficult time deciding what to become. One of my more favored choices is a registered dietitian! I'm very nervous about it though. I'm not very good at science and the program I have to do is filled with science classes. I have also heard that the internship programs are very competitive and hard to get into. My GPA after my first semester is looking to be about a 3.0. If I take these classes, I'm guessing I'll end with a 2.6 GPA. I'm only an average student. I'm afraid that a GPA like this won't qualify me for an internship and the 4 years of school would have been a waste.

    Also, can anyone give me the average salary of a dietitian out of college and the average salary after a few years under the belt? What would be the most that an average student like myself could expect to earn from becoming a dietitian, if I can even make it?


Look for Coordinated undergraduate programs in large universities that have medical centers for class rotations. You CAN become an RD without the internship AND do it in 4 yrs!! Look for programs under title Medical Dietetics in the School of Allied Health Professions. These are usually in large colleges that have medical schools....

12/05/08 12:24 PM | Edit ReplyReply   |    RE: RD
SZT
615 Posts

Registered Dietitian

I think PeaceLove has it right. Think about what you really want and then go for it. No, it's not a piece of cake to obtain your RD, but as our mothers always said- anything in life worth having, is worth working for. And there are great jobs out there- whether you want to work in a traditional role or more untraditional role. I just finished my internship this past May- I got a job that pays well considering that I have not yet completed my Masters (over $40,000 a year) and offers great flexibility of hours/work days. The flexibility alone is priceless to me, as I have a family to look after as well. At this point I'm really enjoying what I do. And I'm happy to know that should I ever decide that clinical isn't what I want to do anymore- I have lots of other options!

12/05/08 03:49 PM | Edit ReplyReply   |    My first job started me at 60K as a RD
NutritionExpert
4 Posts
Los Angeles
Registered Dietitian

I finished my internship this year in Los Angeles and my first job as a clinical RD started me at 60K. I know that may be higher than average but I do believe that the value of RDs is being recognized and appreciated. You MUST not undervalue yourself! I went into my interviews really confident and when asked, I said my "wage requirements" were between 50K-60K. You don't get what you want unless you ask. Start asking, RDs! We deserve it.

12/15/08 02:08 PM | Edit ReplyReply   |    RE: My first job started me at 60K as a RD
mlrine
102 Posts

Registered Dietitian


    Posted by NutritionExpert:
    I finished my internship this year in Los Angeles and my first job as a clinical RD started me at 60K. I know that may be higher than average but I do believe that the value of RDs is being recognized and appreciated. You MUST not undervalue yourself! I went into my interviews really confident and when asked, I said my "wage requirements" were between 50K-60K. You don't get what you want unless you ask. Start asking, RDs! We deserve it.

You must have a shortage of RD's in LA...hospitals around here have set salary ranges and budgets and there is a little room to negotiate..but basically is "take it or leave it' because there are enough RDs looking for work, someone will take it...

12/15/08 02:21 PM | Edit ReplyReply   |    Dietetics
26faster
70 Posts

Registered Dietitian

I've been a dietitian for ~ 8 yrs and am currently in the LA area as well. There are lots of jobs in California and significantly higher paying than anywhere else I've lived. The cost of living is high here but it is also in the large cities on the East Coast where they aren't nearly as well paying. From my experience full-time well-paying jobs are very hard to come by in the MidWest. There are have been times where I've wanted to move back to be closer to family and the jobs just aren't there. Where you live has a huge impact on salary.

So, I think where you'd like your life to be in a major consideration when it comes to choosing a career in dietetics. You'd think working in healthcare you can live where ever you'd like but is not necessarily the case in this field. The regional differences in pay and job availability are readily apparent.

12/15/08 02:56 PM | Edit ReplyReply   |    RE: Dietetics
mlrine
102 Posts

Registered Dietitian


    Posted by 26faster:
    I've been a dietitian for ~ 8 yrs and am currently in the LA area as well. There are lots of jobs in California and significantly higher paying than anywhere else I've lived. The cost of living is high here but it is also in the large cities on the East Coast where they aren't nearly as well paying. From my experience full-time well-paying jobs are very hard to come by in the MidWest. There are have been times where I've wanted to move back to be closer to family and the jobs just aren't there. Where you live has a huge impact on salary.

    So, I think where you'd like your life to be in a major consideration when it comes to choosing a career in dietetics. You'd think working in healthcare you can live where ever you'd like but is not necessarily the case in this field. The regional differences in pay and job availability are readily apparent.


I totally agree..when I moved form Michigan to South Carolina, I had 5 solid years of experience and took a SIGNIFICANT pay cut to live in the South. It took several years before management did salary survey and I got back to my Northern salary..

12/17/08 12:41 AM | Edit ReplyReply   |    RE: My first job started me at 60K as a RD
CNM02
121 Posts

Registered Dietitian


    Posted by mlrine:

      Posted by NutritionExpert:
      I finished my internship this year in Los Angeles and my first job as a clinical RD started me at 60K. I know that may be higher than average but I do believe that the value of RDs is being recognized and appreciated. You MUST not undervalue yourself! I went into my interviews really confident and when asked, I said my "wage requirements" were between 50K-60K. You don't get what you want unless you ask. Start asking, RDs! We deserve it.

    You must have a shortage of RD's in LA...hospitals around here have set salary ranges and budgets and there is a little room to negotiate..but basically is "take it or leave it' because there are enough RDs looking for work, someone will take it...

There is actually a shortage of dietitians. As a profession we need to tell them to leave it. I was extremely proud when my last intern would not accept the salary she was offered. She told the hospital if they wanted a dietitian they would meet her salary request and she had not even taken her exam yet. She walked away from the table. They met her salary demand. They did comment on it though as they thought she was a little odd telling them what to do with their low salary. I am so glad she listened to me and had the guts to do it. Please those of you that are entering the profession, DO NOT ACCEPT ridiculous salaries. Dietitians should not be making $13/hour. Please look at the ADA salary survey (mean was $25/ hour) and the salary survey on this website before you negotiate a job. Please do the profession a favor and walk away from the table. If everyone will do that you will see the salaries rise. How do you think the nurses got their salaries up?

01/07/09 08:22 PM | Edit ReplyReply   |    It's up to you
RDintern
38 Posts

Student

I can't tell you what to do but if I were in your shoes I would perhaps look into a field that had a better return for all the investment you have to put into it (years of education, internship, registration exam, continuing education, low pay, questionable recognition from other health professionals, etc.).

Right now you may think most of those down sides don't worry you, but you may feel differently once you actually get closer to being in the field.

I wouldn't choose dietetics unless it was your absolute DREAM job (and you had researched and shadowed RD's enough to actually know what they really do)--one that you would do for little or no pay/recognition b/c you love it so much.

01/20/09 03:45 PM | Edit ReplyReply   |    RE: My first job started me at 60K as a RD
QWR
9 Posts
Los Angeles
Registered Dietitian

I'm a dietetics student in North Cal. I'm glad to hear you said RD is in high demand and the paid is pretty good.

I'm about to apply an intership, a combined master program seems to be a good choice, but it is also very expensive and competitive. Do you have a master degree?

02/11/09 10:28 AM | Edit ReplyReply   |    RE: How hard is it to become a dietitian? Internship?
ilovetubs
9 Posts

Registered Dietitian


    Posted by xsimpl3yxsarahx:

      Posted by jmido8:
      I'm new out of highschool, my first semester at a community college. I'm having a very difficult time deciding what to become. One of my more favored choices is a registered dietitian! I'm very nervous about it though. I'm not very good at science and the program I have to do is filled with science classes. I have also heard that the internship programs are very competitive and hard to get into. My GPA after my first semester is looking to be about a 3.0. If I take these classes, I'm guessing I'll end with a 2.6 GPA. I'm only an average student. I'm afraid that a GPA like this won't qualify me for an internship and the 4 years of school would have been a waste.

      Also, can anyone give me the average salary of a dietitian out of college and the average salary after a few years under the belt? What would be the most that an average student like myself could expect to earn from becoming a dietitian, if I can even make it?


    I am in the exact same boat as you, I am just a average student, not too good in science, but have always had a passion for helping people, and also a passion for food. I would love to hear someones answer!


02/11/09 10:33 AM | Edit ReplyReply   |    Finding the "right" internship
ilovetubs
9 Posts

Registered Dietitian

I wouldn't say that it is a difficult field to get into, it is the LOCATION. I'm EXTREMELY disappointed with where I am completing my internship. It just so happens to be the same spot of undergraduate study. I would HIGHLY (again: repeat HIGHLY) recommend you take the time, if you decide to go ahead and begin this process, start to research your options. If location is not an issue, then take the time to go up and visit the school and meet with the dept. I hear they are not all the same amount of money, so this is clearly a factor as well. I'm just saddened to see all the "unorganization" of our internship after paying 6.500$, while living in the "great city" of Atlanta, GA. On a side note as well: Make sure this is your passion. The dietetic world does not compensate well (at your traditional jobs) ,therefore, you need to take initiative and be creative or continue your education after becoming an R.D.

02/16/09 05:25 PM | Edit ReplyReply   |    RE: Finding the
RDintern
38 Posts

Student


    Posted by ilovetubs:
    I wouldn't say that it is a difficult field to get into, it is the LOCATION. I'm EXTREMELY disappointed with where I am completing my internship. It just so happens to be the same spot of undergraduate study. I would HIGHLY (again: repeat HIGHLY) recommend you take the time, if you decide to go ahead and begin this process, start to research your options. If location is not an issue, then take the time to go up and visit the school and meet with the dept. I hear they are not all the same amount of money, so this is clearly a factor as well. I'm just saddened to see all the "unorganization" of our internship after paying 6.500$, while living in the "great city" of Atlanta, GA. On a side note as well: Make sure this is your passion. The dietetic world does not compensate well (at your traditional jobs) ,therefore, you need to take initiative and be creative or continue your education after becoming an R.D.

Ditto to everything you said. Sometimes the internship experience can make ALL the difference in the world. I used to have an amazing passion for this field, but after my internship experiences, in a program that is also a bit unorganized and fledgling, I will have to try to convince myself that going into this field wasn't a mistake.

Post New Message in Thread
 
   


Advertisements


Details Create Ad