Duties and responsibilities
As pediatric dietitian is a specialist dietitian whose main responsibility is to work with babies, children and young people (up to 18 years of age) and their parents to help improve diet and food related issue and to achieve optimal nutrition. Their typical duties and responsibilities include:
- Planning menus specific to the needs of children. These menus must be focused on implementing ways to facilitate dietary change and should incorporate balanced diets
- Promoting healthy eating and healthy life choices to children and their parents/carers
- Writing and maintaining reports on patient progress
- Educating other health professionals and the public about nutrition
- Establishing and addressing the key health needs of an individual or a community
- Working as a key member as part of a multidisciplinary team
- Supporting the work and following the advice of other healthcare professionals
To become a pediatric dietitian, you must first complete a bachelor’s degree in a related field. You must be a registered dietitian (RD), and therefore a masters degree is advisable. You will also need to complete a dietetic internship, which consists of at least 1,200 hours of supervised experience. This will also includes the completion of coursework laid out by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, which is the governing board of all dietitians in the United States.
On top of this, the Commission on Dietetic Registration offers several speciality certifications in topics such as sports or pediatric dietetics. In order to maintain RD credentials, pediatric dietitians must complete 75 continuing education credits every five years.
Skills and relevant work experience
- Dietetic knowledge and clinical skills are essential as pediatric dietitian’s must carefully plan treatments and intervention for children
- Problem-solving skills, as pediatric dietitians must evaluate the health of children and determine plans to improve their health or manage their disease
- Interpersonal skills, as dietitians will have to work closely with their patients and their parents. Pediatric dietitians must listen to their goals and concerns, and build healthy and trusting professional relationships. They will also need to have interpersonal skills when working in teams with other healthcare professionals
- Compassion, as dietitians must be caring and empathetic when helping clients address health and dietary issues and any related emotions
- Written and verbal communication skills, as pediatric dietitians must explain complicated science in a way that children will understand, communicate with team members and write up detailed reports
Pediatric dietitians tend to work full time hours. Some dietitians may have to work shift work or be on call, especially if they work in a healthcare setting. Some pediatric dietitians may work for private practices or become self-employed, which gives them greater control over their working hours.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for dietitians, which includes pediatric dietitians, in the United States was $61,270 in 2019. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $38,890, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $87,360 per year.
The highest paid industries were outpatient care centers, where the average annual salary was $68,000, followed by hospitals ($62,110), the government ($60,670) and finally nursing and residential care facilities ($59,320).
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of Food service managers is projected to grow 11 percent from 2018 to 2028. Similarly, the employment of nutritionist and dietitians is expected to grow the same amount, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. This growth is predicted because the interest in the role of food and nutrition in promoting health and wellness has increased.
Dietitians who have earned advanced degrees (e.g., masters or PhDs) or certification in a specialty area, like pediatric dietetic have better job prospects than non-specialized dietitians. Pediatric dietitians can progress to more superior roles, such as practice managers or starting their own business.