- Bachelor Degree with course work approved by the American Dietetic Association’s Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education. Coursework typically includes food and nutrition sciences, food service systems management, business, economics, computer science, sociology, biochemistry, physiology, microbiology and chemistry.
- Complete an accredited, supervised, experiential practice program at a health-care facility, community agency or food service corporation.
- Pass a national examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration.
- Complete continuing professional educational requirements to maintain registration.
What can a Registered Dietitian do for you?
A Registered Dietitian is a food and nutrition expert who has met the minimum academic and professional requirements to qualify for the credential “RD.”
A Registered Dietitian:
- Provides reliable, objective information
- Separates facts from fads
- Translates the latest scientific findings into information that is easy to understand and use
A Dietetic Technician, Registered is a food and nutrition practitioner, often working in conjunction with a Registered Dietitian, who has met the minimum academic and professional requirements to qualify for the credential “DTR.” In addition to DTR credentialing, some states have regulatory laws for Dietetic Technicians, Registered.
Dietetic Technicians, Registered must meet the following criteria to earn the “DTR” credential:
- Complete at least a two-year associate’s degree at a U.S. regionally accredited university or college and course work approved by the Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education of the American Dietetic Association, which must include 450 hours of supervised practice experience in various community programs, health care and food service facilities
- Pass a national examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration
- Complete continuing professional educational requirements to maintain registration
What is the difference between a registered dietitian and a nutritionist?
A registered dietitian is a healthcare professional who has completed a nutrition-related degree (minimum of a bachelor's degree) which includes a rigorous course of study in the scientific areas of biochemistry, human anatomy and physiology classes. A Registered Dietitian (R.D.) requires a minimum of a 4-year degree in a nutritional dietetic program, which is heavily concentrated in the sciences of metabolism, physiology, biology, chemistry, and clinical implications. They also must complete an internship (just like a medical doctor), or go through an approved coordinated undergraduate program that combines supervised practice and the last two years of college. Then all dietitians must pass a national board examination before they can receive the credentials R.D. (registered dietitian).
By the time an individual receives their RD credential, they have specialized knowledge in the area of nutrition. Registered dietitians also must complete continuing education courses regularly in order to keep their registration current.
A registered dietitian is a healthcare professional who applies principles of food and nutrition to health. A registered dietitian can practice in a variety of settings.
- Management dietitians work in healthcare institutions, schools, cafeterias and restaurants.
- Clinical dietitians are a vital part of the medical team in hospitals, nursing homes, health maintenance organizations, and other healthcare facilities.
- Community dietitians work in public and home health agencies, daycare centers, health and recreations clubs, and in government-funded programs.
- Educator dietitians work in colleges, universities and medical centers.
- Research dietitians work in government agencies, food and pharmaceutical companies, and in major universities and medical centers.
- Consultant dietitians work under contract with a healthcare facility or in their own private practice.
- Business dietitians work in product development, sales, marketing, advertising, public relations and purchasing in food and nutrition related industries.
Many people refer to themselves as a nutritionist. The term nutritionist can be misleading. A nutritionist does not have to meet all of the rigorous requirements a registered dietitian needs to. A nutritionist is not required to complete a degree, a supervised experience, a national board examination, or continuing education courses. Nutritionists have much less fewer training requirements and responsibilities than an R.D., as stated previously; anyone can use the title Nutritionist. Because unqualified individuals can use this title, many states require all those offering clinical nutrition advice, be licensed within their state of practice.
Registered Dietitians and Nutrition Supplements
Registered Dietitians have only recently started recomending nutrition supplements. The American Dietetic Association has established professional guidelines for Registered Dietitians regarding nutrition supplements. These guidelines can be found here: Guidelines Regarding the Recommendation and Sale of Dietary Supplements with the full text here: Full Text: Guidelines Regarding the Recommendation and Sale of Dietary Supplements. Typically, the Registered Dietitian does NOT sell nutrition supplements. With The American Dietetic Association having strict practice guidelines in place regarding nutrition supplements, the Registered Dietitian must adhere to these guidelines for professional credibility.