Dietetics, Pharmacy & Therapy Occupations

This excerpt from Chapter Six of Health Care Job Explosion presents occupations that are in the Dietetics, Pharmacy, and therapy occupations. The major occupational groups are:

Each specialty is described below. Occupational groups are divided into primary and related occupations so that individuals can investigate other fields for additional job opportunities.

Following each job description are job resource lists: Associations, Books, Directories, Internet Sites, Job Ads, Job Hotlines, Job Fairs, and Placement Services. Job sources are listed alphabetically with the larger sources underlined.

Resources for occupational therapists and physical therapists are combined, as many of them serve both professions.

The first specialty is excerpted along with a sampling of resources from the all new 4th edition of Health Care Job Explosion!, Chapter Six. The remaining occupations are featured in the same format as presented for dietitians and nutritionists in the text version of Health Care Job Explosion! Occupational groups are divided into primary and related occupations so that individuals can investigate other fields for additional job opportunities.

Health Care Job Explosion features over 1,400 career exploration and job vacancy resources. Resources are grouped with each occupation and a sample of related resources are included with the listed occupation.



Interview With an Occupational Therapist

Tamara Theodore pictureTamara Theodore is a private practice pediatric occupational therapist in Encino, California. "I always wanted to do something in the health field and originally considered being a pediatrician. However, I wanted a family someday and didn't think I could devote time to both. I had a blind date once, which turned out to be a man who was going to be an occupational therapist. He told me that it was a field in which the course of study was a blend of art, psychology, and medicine. That really intrigued me and so I began to pursue it."

She graduated from the University of Southern California in 1972 with a B. S. Degree. "After college, I took two required internships, one in mental health and one in physical disabilities. These were full time positions and, in the second one, I specialized in pediatrics at Children's Hospital of Los Angeles."

When asked for advice to people just starting out, Tamara replied, "Decide what area you want to work in and put your mind to it! When I started school, there were lots of jobs available. When I graduated there were very few. I decided I wanted to work in pediatrics, which was the hardest to get into. I volunteered after my internship was over until they created a position for me." Later, she needed field work experience for a Master's Program. "I went to a special school for children who could not be handled in the regular public school and asked for a volunteer position. They offered me a position as Director of Sensory Integration Therapy because I was an O.T. trained in this specialty. So hang in there!"

Currently, Tamara explains, the job market for occupational therapists is excellent. "The field is wide open, gives professional status, good income and plenty of challenge and variety. The thing that is great about this field is that there are never two days the same. One can create almost any kind of job environment they want, but the premise is always the same: helping people to develop, maintain or achieve maximum function for their developmental level."

The great variety in employment possibilities makes this career especially appealing. Tamara explains, "This job usually includes working closely with nursing and doing a lot of parent training and education. There are Early Intervention Programs across the nation for birth to three that are educationally based and state funded. These programs provide assistance to families with special needs children to help them to learn and develop in areas that are deficient in gross and fine motor skills, cognitive skills, language skills, social and emotional skills. Occupational therapists work with all types of people, ages and problems from premature infants to geriatrics and everything in between."

"I have been in this field for 30 years and really love it as much today as I did when I first started. I love working with small children. I love the mix of psychology, medicine and art. I love the opportunity to be creative. In 30 years of continuous learning, I still have so much more to learn." Tamara emphasizes the personality traits needed for success in this field. "I think it is important to want to help people and to have a genuine interest in their well being and a true caring for humankind to be a success in this field. Therapists have to be adaptive and creative and need to enjoy problem solving. If you are that kind of person, go for it! The possibilities are almost endless; thus one can change jobs within the field, keeping it interesting and varied."

Note: A complete description of this career choice with resources is available in chapter six of the new 4th edition of Health Care Job Explosion.



  • Administrative Dietitians
  • Clinical Dietitians
  • Community Dietitians
  • Consultant Dietitians
  • Research Dietitians


Workers with duties similar to those of administrative dietitians include:

  • Home Economists
  • Food Service Managers

Nurses and health educators often provide services related to those of community dietitians.



Significant Points

  • Dietitians and nutritionists need at least a bachelor's degree in dietetics, foods and nutrition, food service systems management, or a related area.
  • According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, faster than average employment growth is expected; however, growth may be constrained if employers substitute other workers for dietitians and if limitations are placed on insurance reimbursement for dietetic services.
  • Those who have specialized training in renal or diabetic diets or have a master's degree should experience good employment opportunities.

Nature of the Work

Dietitians and nutritionists plan food and nutrition programs and supervise the preparation and serving of meals. They help to prevent and treat illnesses by promoting healthy eating habits and recommending dietary modifications, such as the use of less salt for those with high blood pressure or the reduction of fat and sugar intake for those who are overweight.

Dietitians manage food service systems for institutions such as hospitals and schools, promote sound eating habits through education, and conduct research. Major areas of practice include clinical, community, management, and consultant dietetics.

Clinical dietitians provide nutritional services for patients in institutions such as hospitals and nursing care facilities. They assess patients' nutritional needs, develop and implement nutrition programs, and evaluate and report the results. They also confer with doctors and other health care professionals to coordinate medical and nutritional needs. Some clinical dietitians specialize in the management of over-weight patients or in the care of critically ill or renal (kidney) and diabetic patients. In addition, clinical dietitians in nursing care facilities, small hospitals, or correctional facilities may manage the food service department.


Community dietitians counsel individuals and groups on nutritional practices designed to prevent disease and promote health. Working in places such as public health clinics, home health agencies, and health maintenance organizations, community dietitians evaluate individual needs, develop nutritional care plans, and instruct individuals and their families. Dietitians working in home health agencies provide instruction on grocery shopping and food preparation to the elderly, individuals with special needs, and children.

Increased public interest in nutrition has led to job opportunities in food manufacturing, advertising, and marketing. In these areas, dietitians analyze foods, prepare literature for distribution, or report on issues such as the nutritional content of recipes, dietary fiber, or vitamin supplements.

Management dietitians oversee large-scale meal planning and preparation in health care facilities, company cafeterias, prisons, and schools. They hire, train, and direct other dietitians and food service workers; budget for and purchase food, equipment, and supplies; enforce sanitary and safety regulations; and prepare records and reports.

Consultant dietitians work under contract with health care facilities or in their own private practice. They perform nutrition screenings for their clients and offer advice on diet-related concerns such as weight loss and cholesterol reduction. Some work for wellness programs, sports teams, supermarkets, and other nutrition-related businesses. They may consult with food service managers, providing expertise in sanitation, safety procedures, menu development, budgeting, and planning.


Working Conditions

Most full-time dietitians and nutritionists work a regular 40-hour week, although some work weekends. About 1 in 4 worked part time in 2004. Dietitians and nutritionists usually work in clean, well-lighted, and well-ventilated areas. However, some dietitians work in warm, congested kitchens. Many dietitians and nutritionists are on their feet for much of the workday.


According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics dietitians and nutritionists held about 64,400 jobs in 2010.

Some dietitians were self-employed, working as consultants to facilities such as hospitals and nursing care facilities or providing dietary counseling to individuals.


Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement

Educational Opportunities - Online healthcare degree & certificate programs

High school students interested in becoming a dietitian or nutritionist should take courses in biology, chemistry, mathematics, health, and communications. Dietitians and nutritionists need at least a bachelor's degree in dietetics, foods and nutrition, food service systems management, or a related area. College students in these majors take courses in foods, nutrition, institution management, chemistry, bio-chemistry, biology, microbiology, and physiology. Other suggested courses include business, mathematics, statistics, computer science, psychology, sociology, and economics.

Of the 46 states and jurisdictions with laws governing dietetics, 31 require licensure, 14 require certification, and 1 requires registration. Requirements vary by state. As a result, interested candidates should determine the requirements of the state in which they want to work before sitting for any exam. Although not required, the Commission on Dietetic Registration of the American Dietetic Association (ADA) awards the Registered Dietitian credential to those who pass an exam after completing their academic coursework and supervised experience.

As of 2004, there were about 227 bachelor's and master's degree programs approved by the ADA's Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education (CADE).

Supervised practice experience can be acquired in two ways. The first requires the completion of a CADE-accredited program.

Students interested in research, advanced clinical positions, or public health may need an advanced degree.

Experienced dietitians may advance to management positions, such as assistant director, associate director, or director of a dietetic department, or may become self-employed. Some dietitians specialize in areas such as renal, diabetic, cardiovascular, or pediatric dietetics. Others may leave the occupation to become sales representatives for equipment, pharmaceutical, or food manufacturers.

Job Outlook

A growing and aging population will boost the demand for meals and nutritional counseling in hospitals, residential care facilities, schools, prisons, community health programs, and home health care agencies. Public interest in nutrition and increased emphasis on health education and prudent lifestyles also will spur demand, especially in management. In addition to employment growth, job openings will result from the need to replace experienced workers who leave the occupation.

Dietitian and nutritionist employment growth may be constrained if some employers substitute other workers, such as health educators, food service managers, and dietetic technicians. Growth also may be curbed by limitations on insurance reimbursement for dietetic services.



Median annual earnings of dietitians and nutritionists were $53,250 in May 2010. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $33,330, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $75,480.

According to the Compensation & Benefits Survey 2007 by American Dietetic Association, hourly wages for registered dietitians in 2007 varied by practice area as follows: $38.46 in consultation and business; $37.22 in food and nutrition management; $40.02 in education and research.


Resources for Dietetics, Pharmacy and Therapy Occupations

(Partial Listing) There are 264 total resources presented in the paperback version of Health Care Job Explosion! 4th edition by Dennis V. Damp for this occupational group. Resources include Job Ads, Job Hotlines, Job Fairs, Placement services, Associations, Books, Directories and Internet (Web) Sites. Your local library may have this book in their reference section or you can purchase a copy for $19.95 plus shipping with all major credit cards from our toll free service at 1-800-782-7424 (Orders Only).

Educational Opportunities - Online healthcare degree & certificate programs


The American Dietetic Association (ADA) - 120 South Riverside Plaza, Suite 2000, Chicago, Illinois 60606-6995; 800/877-1600. (http://www.eatright.org, education@eatright.org) An organization of food and nutrition professionals, with nearly 65,000 members. The membership includes dietitians, dietetic technicians, students and others. Web site has listing by state of accredited education programs, listing of state associations, and link to HealtheCareers web site for job listings. Student membership $43/yr gives access to information about dietetic internships and financial aid opportunities—including scholar-ships offered only to ADA members.

School Nutrition Association (SNA) - 700 South Washington St., Suite 300, Alexandria, VA 22314; 703/739-3900. (servicecenter@choolnutrition.org, www.schoolnutrition.org). Association of school food service professionals has a voluntary certification program for its members. Has a Credentialing Exam Study Guide to help members study for the credentialing exam, and online education courses. Provides regulatory information, scholarship assistance for professional development and to pass the GED. Job bank allows job search by job category.

California Dietetic Association (CDA) - 7740 Manchester Ave., Suite 102, Playa del Rey, CA 90293-8499; or call 310/822-0177. Visit their web site at (www.dietitian.org, bridget@dietitian.org). Open job ad listings, scholarship program, and mentoring program for members.

Careers In Nutrition - by Linda Bickerstaff, Rosen Publishing Group, 2005. ISBN: 1404202498 Most recent book on jobs in the field. Discusses job qualifications, possibilities, and education.

Food and Nutrition Information Center of the USDA - Click on their site at (http://www.nalusda.gov/fnic) for "Topics A-Z". This section of the web site has links to associations and colleges, directories, and electronic publications.


Opportunities in Nutrition Careers - by Carol Coles Caldwell, McGraw-Hill, 1999. ISBN: 0844232408. Describes the career and gives aids in finding a job.

Society for Nutrition Education (SNE) - 7150 Winton Drive, Suite 300, Indianapolis, Indiana 46268; 317/328-4627 or 800/235-6690. (http://www.sne.org/) Association of nutrition educators. Jobs are posted on the web site and members can receive job notices by email. The web site has information on careers in human Nutrition/Dietetics.

Treatment Resources

Back Pain Site - http://www.1backpain.com Information about Conditions, Therapies, Exercises, and Doctors who Treat Back Pain.

Tendonitis.net -  http://www.Tendonitis.net  - Your Source for Tendonitis Information and Treatment Options. If you are suffering from Tendonitis  this site offers information and  treatment options about tendonitis, tendonitis treatment, tendonitis symptoms, tendonitis relief,  tendonitis pain and more.


Other Occupations


The following dietetics, pharmacy and therapy occupations are featured in the all new 4th edition of Health Care Job Explosion!. Each of the following occupations are featured exactly like the Dietitians and Nutritionists occupational description on this page and includes resources for each listing. Your local library may have this book in their reference section or you can purchase a copy for $19.95 plus $5.75 shipping with all major credit cards from our toll free service at 1-800-782-7424 (Orders Only). Also available at all major bookstores.

  • Occupational Therapists
  • Pharmacists
  • Physical Therapists
  • Recreational Therapists
  • Respiratory Therapists
  • Speech-Language Audiologists
  • Speech-Language Pathologists