A Career as a Sports Dietitian?

What does a sports dietitian do?

The primary aim of the sports dietitian, also known as a sports nutritionist, is to use a range of dietary strategies to maximize performance. They commonly do this through individual and group/team nutrition counseling and education sessions. See also what services a sport dietitian provides for a comprehensive listing of the possible services provided by a sports dietitian.

How to become a sports dietitian

To become a sports dietitian, you should have an interest in food and sport. You will need at least a university degree in an approved nutrition or dietetics course, to become registered as a dietitian in your country. To work as a Sports Dietitian, you may need to do a specific course and undergo a certain amount of work experience in the field. The International Olympic Committee offers a postgraduate-level distance learning program in Sport and Exercise Nutrition, while in Australia you must attend an annual Sports Nutrition Further Education Course before you can become accredited as a sports dietitian.

What are important competencies/qualities for a sports nutritionist to have?

A sport dietitian, like any dietitian, is required to be an excellent communicator, have good people skills and counseling. You need to have an interest in food, diet, and health. Other skills which are advantageous include marketing know-how, time management and business skills. You need to be aware of current trends, monitor the media and scientific journals, and network with other dietitians to keep up with the latest developments and the emerging research.

What's it like to work as a sports dietitian?

The pay for a sports dietitian can vary, and it can take time to make a name for yourself. Some sports teams may expect you to work long hours for minimal pay. As you can do many small jobs, the total hours can be as long or short as you would like - but this will effect pay obviously!

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How do I find a Job as a sports dietitian?

As the profile of Sports Dietetics improves, work is becoming easier to come by. However, on saying that there are still not many full time sports nutrition jobs available. Many sports dietitians have several part time jobs to make up full time work. It would be worthwhile for aspiring sports dietitians to get some work experience under the belt and then you can come to a job opportunity well credentialed.

What does a sports dietitian earn?

As a Sports Dietitian, it is unlikely to be paid a salary or a wage. Usually it is part time work on a consultancy or contract basis, which is often negotiated with the employer, if there is one! Most often you work for yourself in private practice, and charge an hourly (or consult) rate. These consult rates can vary from $80 to about $150 for an hour (2011 figures). On a good day you could see a maximum of six people. This is not taking into account overhead expenses for the location of your work. You could also get contract work, completing a set amount of hours per week for a company, and get paid a much lower hourly rate, but in those cases there are no overheads or other expenses. The upside is that the job is very rewarding and there are other perks when you are a sports dietitian, making it a worthwhile career choice. 

What are the future prospects for a sport dietetics career?

Prospects in sports dietetics are certainly improving. The general public are becoming more aware and interested in the importance of sports nutrition, but more importantly, the coaches and fitness staff of sporting teams are seeing the benefits of having a specialist sports dietitian working with their athletes.

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