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Career in Nutrition & Dietetics

Introduction

After passing your twelfth class, a course in nutrition and dietetics can offer you an exciting career opportunity. A degree in Home Science or Hotel Management would take you to higher levels of knowledge regarding nutrition and dietetics.

Conventionally, in India, it is the women who venture into this domain. However, due to ample opportunities these days, men are also pursuing a career in this field.

Step-by-Step

Typically, the objective of a course in nutrition and dietetics is:

•  To identify nutrition and dietary problems in segments of populations.
•  To devise socially, economically and technologically viable methods to control nutrition and dietary problems in the country.
•  To devise newer management and administration techniques to monitor nutrition and dietetics.
•  To encourage research on nutrition and develop future scientists for the country.
•  To advise governments and health bodies on issues related with nutrition.

Start Early

After completing school, you may get admitted to a B.Sc degree in Home Science if you have qualifying marks. Otherwise, in order to pursue a career in nutrition and dietetics, you may pursue a one year diploma from any popular institute.

The most popular college is the National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad. This college offers a master’s degree and postgraduate certificate in Nutrition. The college has been acknowledged worldwide for its research on nutrition. Also, SNDT College, Mumbai and Mangalore University offer competent courses in Nutrition and dietetics.

Is it the Right Career for Me?

If you have an inborn interest in cooking and exploring various cuisines from different countries, nutrition and dietetics is one subject which will help you explore how to design controlled diets. Based on the body mass index, you can design your own food charts that would summarize the quantity of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins which must be consumed everyday.

For a career, initially, this may be a low paying job. But once you have picked up and gained experience, there is a lot of scope and you may earn quite well and travel abroad as well.

What would it Cost Me?

A graduate degree course in nutrition and dietetics could cost you around Rs. 10,000 or above per year depending on the college you choose. A diploma could cost more but its course content would be integrated in order to make it a one-year programme.

Funding/Scholarship

Banks such as State Bank of India and other state subsidiaries offer a maximum loan of up to Rs. 7.5 lacs in India and about 15 lacs to study abroad. This amount can be paid in easy instalments spread over a period of a few years time at low interest rates.

Job Prospect

As a career, hotels, cruise lines, hospitals, nursing homes and government health departments recruit nutrition and dietetics professionals for a good salary. If you join a shipping company such as Shell, Maersk or their subsidiary companies that run tourist ships along with logistics and oil et al., you would get the opportunity to travel to several countries situated along the shorelines.

Pay Packet

A fresher who has completed a course in Nutrition and Dietetics may draw anywhere between Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 20,000 in a standard hospital or nursing home of repute. Several sports organizations, companies and factories hire these professionals for designing a healthy menu for their cafeteria. Spas and clinics hire dieticians to use them for designing healthy, low-calorie monthly food charts for their customers. When combined with a degree in hotel management, the salary levels could be between Rs 20,000 to Rs 25,000.

Demand and Supply

The demand for nutritionists has greatly increased over the past few years due to increased awareness amongst people to stay healthy and avoid high calorie unplanned diets leading to obesity, hypertension and other food related diseases! The supply therefore is low when compared with the demand.

Mainly due to low initial salaries, only women prefer to join a course in nutrition and dietetics in order to keep their work routines untiring and less busy. However, there are leading nutritionists and doctors in the country who have appeared often on TV channels and joined leading companies to design their food charts as well.

Market Watch

The market is considerably cold for professionals in this field as this is mostly seen as a supporting career unlike a mainstream career such as studying to become a doctor or an engineer. However, almost all consumer product companies such as Colgate, Close Up to Amul, or Bournvita and Complan that manufacture consumable products hire dieticians for their research teams.

International Focus

Diet masters play a vital role in developed countries and their importance is now also felt in India. In countries such as the United States, medical dieticians earn a monthly salary of say $20,000-40,000 if they possess the expertise expected by the companies.

Positives/Negatives

+ives:

•  If you have scored less in school, no worries, a course in nutrition and dietetics is easy to get admitted to.
•  Besides post graduate Master’s degree, colleges also offer one year diploma and pg diploma in nutrition and dietetics.
•  The subject is quite interesting and very much applicable in our daily lives. You can design food charts for your own family members and not just for your customers. The subject provides ample scope for personal research as well.

-ives:

•  The starting salaries are comparatively lower than other professions.
•  The opportunities may be limited if you are looking for an excellent job paying you high in your local area alone. On the other hand, if you are willing to travel, the salary may be high.
•  Jobs over ships and cruise lines may require you to stay away from home for several weeks.

Different Roles, Different Names

A course in nutrition and dietetics is as good as a hotel management course if knowledge is continuously upgraded about foods, measurement scales, and medical implications. If you are employed in a hospital, you can learn a lot about nursing and pharmacy  which could be further used to complement your career as a dietician.

Top Companies

The top 5 companies in the hospitality industry hiring nutrition professionals are as mentioned below:

•  Hyatt Corporation
•  Accor Hospitality
•  Taj Group of Hotels
•  Vatika Group
•  Le Meridien

Besides these, there are several companies in other industries such as Apollo group of hospitals, AIIMS and other private nursing homes that hire nutritionists and dieticians. Top-ended sports clubs and fitness centres also employ these professionals.

Tips for Getting Hired

You could follow the steps mentioned below to get hired as a dietician:

1.  Keep your knowledge upgraded on latest food measurement techniques for measuring calories of food consumed and various nutrition elements such as fats, carbohydrates, proteins etc. Several magazines and journals provide comments from expert dieticians.
2.  You are expected to have good communication skills. Thus, sound optimistic and confident during interviews.

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