Diet Counselors help individuals and organizations regarding food intake and diet to maintain good health or curtail particular illnesses and other health problems. They may work with other healthcare professionals such as nutritionists and dietetic technicians to coordinate patient care and provide accurate diet counseling. They can be helpful for patients who suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure, hypertension or other medical conditions. They asses the health of their clients and then suggest which foods to eat or avoid for better health.
Their responsibilities include educating patients on nutrition issues and healthy eating habits; developing proper diet plans based on the health needs of patients; evaluating the effects of diet plans and changing the plans if required so on and so forth.
Diet Counselors work in verities of settings such as hospitals, clinics, offices of health practitioners, long-term care facilities, nursing and residential care facilities, health maintenance organizations, nonprofit agencies, and other health care settings. Most of them work full time although some prefer to work part time.
To become a Diet Counselor, aspiring candidates need to obtain a four-year bachelor’s degree in dietetics, foods and nutrition, food service systems management, clinical nutrition, or a related area. The common syllabus includes courses in nutrition, chemistry, clinical counseling, human physiology and biology. The candidates can also obtain dietetic internship program or advanced degree in related area for broader job prospects in this field.
Licensure and Certification
Since the position of a Diet Counselor requires to be licensed in many states of USA, the aspiring candidates need to pass a licensing exam and complete a state-approved training program. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics offer exam-based certification for these professionals.
Diet Counselors possess various traits such as analytical abilities, working knowledge of various clinical modalities, good listening skills, motivating and convincing capacity, problem solving abilities, empathy towards patients, high medical ethics, effective communications and interpersonal skills, basic computer knowledge , ability to remain calm under pressure etc.
Job Outlook and Salary
The job outlook for a Diet Counselor remains excellent across the USA. According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the growth rate for job opportunities in this profession may rise 21% from 2012 to 2022, higher than the average for all occupations. The average annual salary of a Diet Counselor was $55,240 in May 2012.