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Register Dietitian vs Nutritionist

There is a huge difference between a Registered Dietitian vs a Nutritionist. However, most people do not know the difference. With the growing number of social media influencers the confusion continues on the differences between a Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist. I am here today to help clear up that confusion.

How to become a Registered Dietitian…

  1. Go to an accredited college for a Bachelors Degree in nutrition. Click here for a list of schools. You will take course work in biology, chemistry, nutrition, food service, and more. During your undergraduate program your are expected to complete relative volunteer hours in the field of nutrition. The average volunteer hours that most schools recommend are 300-500 hours.
  2. Apply for to match at a Dietetic Internship. A complete list of internship are listed here. The internship process is 1,200 supervised hours through different areas in the field such as community, clinical, food service, research, and more. Most internship are unpaid.
  3. In 2024, you will be required to complete a Master’s Degree before the final step of becoming a Registered Dietitian. Understand the current requirements are just to achieve a Master’s Degrees. The field of choice is up to you, but it is recommended to pick a health related field of study.
  4. Pass the National Exam! The RD exam is 145 multiple choice questions and takes two and half hours. Here is the current breakdown of the test 25% principles of dietetics. 40% nutrition care for individuals and groups 21% management of food and nutrition programs and services 14% foodservice systems
  5. Apply for State Licensure: There are only handful of states that do not require state licensure.
  6. Now time to find a job! Jobs as a Registered Dietitian are endless. You can work in the hospital setting, long term care, food service, grocery stores, public schools, colleges, sport teams, private practice, media, and so much more.
  7. Maintain your RD status with 75 CEU’s every 5 years

Understand there are some coordinated programs in the country. These programs combine the bachelor degree and supervised practice. These programs are very limited, but are a great avenue.

How to become a Nutritionist?

Are you ready for this because I am not sure you are? All you have to do is take a course or read about nutrition and you can call yourself nutritionist. Technically, nutritionist are not allowed to give medical nutrition therapy. They are also, not supposed to give out meal plans especially in licensed states. However, if your state is not licensed like Virginia, nutritionist have limited regulation onto what they can and cannot do. Here is the thing if you are trying to practice as nutritionist in a licensed state be careful because some state licensure are very strict regarding their rules. The newest case is a nutritionist influencer in Texas is having legal action taken on them for giving nutrition advice to eating disorder clients.

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