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FAQs About Careers in Dietetics

What is the difference between a registered dietitian nutritionist or nutrition and dietetics technician, registered, and a nutritionist?

Registered dietitian nutritionist or registered dietitian and nutrition and dietetics technician, registered or dietetic technician, registered can only be used by nutrition and dietetics practitioners who are currently authorized to use the credential by the Commission on Dietetic Registration of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (The Academy). These are legally protected titles. Individuals with these credentials have completed specific academic and supervised practice requirements, successfully completed the CDR examination and maintained requirements for recertification. The definition and requirements for the term "nutritionist" vary. Some states have licensure laws that define the scope of practice for someone using the designation "nutritionist."

What career opportunities are available for registered dietitian nutritionists and nutrition and dietetics technicians, registered?

Check out information on career opportunities, salaries and job outlook for registered dietitian nutritionist and dietetic technicians, registered.

What do I need to do to become a registered dietitian nutritionist?

To become a registered dietitian nutritionist, you would need to:

  • Enroll in an ACEND®-accredited Coordinated Program in Dietetics (CP), Future Education Model Graduate Program in Nutrition and Dietetics (GP) or International Coordinated Program (ICP). These programs combine classroom and supervised practical experience, provide a minimum of a graduate degree and are accredited by ACEND. Graduates are then eligible to write CDR's Registration Examination for Dietitians to become credentialed as registered dietitian nutritionists.
  • Enroll in an ACEND-accredited Didactic Program in Dietetics academic program. This program, which is accredited by ACEND, grants at least a bachelor's degree. After you receive your degree, you will then need to apply for and complete supervised practice experience in an ACEND-accredited Dietetic Internship Program and obtain a minimum of a graduate degree. You will then be eligible to write CDR's Registration Examination for Dietitians to become credentialed as a registered dietitian nutritionist.

View the lists of ACEND-accredited programs with contact information.

Note: Effective January 1, 2024, the minimum degree requirement for eligibility to take the registration examination for dietitians will change from a bachelor's degree to a graduate degree.

What do I need to do to become a nutrition dietetic technician, registered?

To become a nutrition and dietetics technician, registered, you will need to:

  • Complete an associate degree and curriculum requirements of a Dietetic Technician Program accredited by ACEND. You will then be eligible to write CDR's Registration Examination for Dietetic Technicians to become credentialed as a nutrition and dietetics technician, registered.
  • Complete an ACEND-accredited Didactic Program in Dietetics. You will then be eligible to write CDR's Registration Examination for Dietetic Technicians to become credentialed as a nutrition and dietetics technician, registered.

View the list of ACEND-accredited dietetic technician programs with contact information.

Is there a ranking of nutrition and dietetics education programs by the Academy or ACEND?

ACEND and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics do not rate or rank programs. All ACEND-accredited programs meet the Accreditation Standards, which signifies that the programs provide the required knowledge and/or competencies you need to enter the nutrition and dietetics profession. These accredited programs meet the requirements for membership in the Academy and registration by Commission on Dietetic Registration.

If ACEND doesn't rank programs, what factors should I consider when deciding on a school?

This decision is a very personal one that should be made based on a variety of factors that are important to you, such as:

  • Size of school and program: Would you be more comfortable in a small private school or a large state (public) university?
  • Cost: Can you afford a private school or is a state-supported school a better value for you?
  • Available financial aid: What resources are available to you?
  • Geographic location: Do you prefer a rural or urban setting, residential or commuter school?
  • Faculty composition and qualifications: Have you visited the website or campus and talked with faculty?
  • Degree awarded: Are you interested in a bachelor's or graduate degree?
  • Success of graduates in obtaining internship placement and jobs: How well do graduates do after completing the program?
  • Success of graduates in pursuing career goals: What are your career goals and do they match the goals of the program?

Talk with the program directors at the schools you are interested in attending, discuss the program and ask to visit. It is sometimes helpful to talk with current students and graduates or registered dietitian nutritionist and nutrition and dietetics technicians, registered located in the area near the program to acquire information that may be helpful in making a decision.

I have a master's degree in another field and would now like to be a dietitian; do I need to start all over?

If you already have a master's degree that is not in nutrition and dietetics and are interested in becoming a registered dietitian nutritionist, you should have your college transcripts evaluated by a director of a DPD, CP or GP program accredited by ACEND. The program director can provide you with information on what would be required for you to complete the needed requirements. Because the policies, procedures and costs for the transcript evaluation may vary from one institution to another, you may want to contact more than one nutrition and dietetics program for further information.

A DPD, CP or GP program director will evaluate your previous academic preparation and identify the courses that you would need to complete at that school to meet the academic requirements. The nutrition and dietetics program director can advise you of your options. Once the required coursework is completed, you will receive a Verification Statement, which enables you to either apply to an ACEND®-accredited Dietetic Internship (DI) (after completion of a DPD) or apply to write the registration exam (after completion of a DI, CP or GP).

Is there a list of courses I need to take?

There is no recommended list of courses. Each nutrition and dietetics education program is accredited based on how the entire curriculum meets the Accreditation Standards. Therefore, individuals must contact the academic program that they are interested in attending to obtain the specific requirements for that program. Program curricula may vary somewhat depending on how the content of courses is structured. The lists of ACEND-accredited programs with contact information can be viewed.

Is the Dietetic Technician credential a stepping-stone to the programs to become a RDN?

Individuals who complete an associate degree in an ACEND-accredited DT programs may be able to transfer academic credits to a CP, DPD or GP program. Some DT programs have established articulation agreements that specify the coursework that will be accepted as transfer credit. For those DT programs without formal agreements, it is necessary to confer with the DPD or CP Program Director to determine if the courses you have completed will be accepted as fulfilling curriculum requirements for becoming a RDN.

There is not a nutrition and dietetics education program convenient to my home. Can I complete the requirements by distance education?

Several programs offer the option to complete program requirements via distance education.

The lists of ACEND®-accredited programs and information about distance education can be viewed.

Source: ACEND/Updated December 2023

Find an ACEND-Accredited Program

ACEND has more than 600 accredited programs across the United States and select countries internationally, with in-person and online options. Use the search filters to find the program that fits your needs.