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How To Become A Dietician

How To Become a Dietician

Most dietitian jobs require education and experience that is mandated by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CRR) of the American Dietetic Association (ADA). This involved completing the CDR’s Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND)-accredited programs in dietetics.

On average, dietitians earn $57,000 annually according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Registered Dietitian Education

You can obtain the CDR’s requirements for education and experience to become a registered dietitian in a multitude of ways.

One of these ways is to complete an ACEND-accredited Coordinated Program (CP) in Dietetics. This program includes the education and the experiential component necessary for Registered Dietitian education.


There are also other programs you can complete such as a Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD), accredited by ACEND. This program consists of coursework and will need to be followed by an internship or experience. The Dietetic Internship (DI) accredited by ACEND usually follows a DPD.

CDR Registered Dietitian Examination

The next step for you becoming a Registered Dietician is to pass the CDR’s Registration Exam for Dietitians. The CDR’s Registration Examination for Dietitians Handbook for Candidates is a valuable resource to use when preparing to take the exam. You are required to take the exam within one year of being eligible to do so.

Dietician/Registered Dietician Salary

The salary of a dietician is something that we touched on in the beginning of this article. Dietitians and Nutritionists plan and conduct food service or nutritional programs to assist in the promotion of health and control of disease. They might also touch on supervising activities of a department providing quantity food services, counsel individuals, or conduct nutritional research.

The dietician employment curve actually looks very solid:

Number employed in the USA: 66,330

Employment Increase: 1.3%

Mean hourly wage: $30.84

Mean annual wage: $64,150

Wage Increase: 0.4%


Percentile wage estimates for Dietitians and Nutritionists:

Bottom 10%: $39,840

Bottom 25%: $51,700

Median 50%: $63,090

Top 25%: $77,180

Top 10%: $90,000

Difference Between a Dietician and Nutritionist

Maybe you’ve heard the terms nutritionist and dietitian and been confused by their meaning and how they correlate with one another. So let’s break down what each of these are and the difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist.

What A Dietitian Does

In the United States and many other countries, a dietitian is a board-certified food and nutrition expert. They’re highly educated in the field of dietetics and nutrition or in other words, the science of food.

The training required for this role is extensive and you’ll need to demonstrate evidence-based medical nutrition therapy and nutritional counseling tailored to meet an individual’s needs.

Dietitians are qualified to practice across a variety of settings, including hospitals, outpatient clinics, research institutions, or local communities to name some.

What A Nutritionist Does

So in some countries, people may translate their working title as nutritionist instead of dietitian, although their educational background closely resembles that of a dietitian.

In the United States however, the title of nutritionist may also encompass individuals with a broad range of credentials and training in nutrition.

But did you know that in over a dozen states, there are certain qualifications that need to be met legally before an individual can differentiate themselves as a nutritionist? Accredited certifications can grant title such as Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS).

In most states, those that receive certifications have the authority to practice medical nutrition therapy and other aspects of nutrition care.

In many states, like Alaska, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania RDs and CNSs are granted the same state license which is usually called the Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist (LDN) license.

However, if a nutritionist is unaccredited, be wary and don’t follow their advice.

Final Notes

Dietitians and CNSs are credentialed, board-certified food and nutrition experts with extensive training and formal education. Depending on where they live, dietitians and nutritionists alike may need to meet additional requirements to be licensed to practice.

Although the differentiation between the titles can be confusing, please keep in mind that professionals with the titles RD or CNS have advanced degrees in nutrition.

Are you looking for your next job as a dietitian? Check out our free niche healthcare job board, Healthcare Consultant, today.