Enacting licensure laws in states that do not have a law remains a high priority of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Many will say that in an era of less government, fewer licensure laws are necessary and that government should be getting out of this arena. The Academy strongly rejects this notion. State legislatures are charged with protecting the health and safety of the public. Accordingly, every state regulates occupations and professions that have an impact on the public's health and safety.
Licensure topics on this page:
Importance of Licensing
Licensing dietitians and nutritionists assures the public that individuals disseminating nutrition advice have the appropriate education and experience. Individuals seeking nutrition advice who are medically compromised deserve the assurance that the individual treating them has the requisite education and experience. Licensure laws protect the public from unscrupulous and unqualified individuals who would portray themselves as nutrition experts.
As educated and qualified health care practitioners, dietitians and nutritionists have the primary obligation to promote public health. The rationale behind licensure is consistent with this obligation. Licensure laws are not intended to restrict freedom of speech or to monopolize any business. The same arguments opposing licensure laws could be used against licensure of physicians, nurses and other health care professionals, but legislatures in every state have recognized that the protection of the public health justifies regulation. The same argument should prevail when discussing the licensure of dietitians and nutritionists.
Unfortunately, until relatively recently, the vital link between nutrition and good health had not been fully recognized. As the public has become aware of the importance of good nutrition, many entrepreneurs have taken advantage of the newly recognized market. While many of these products and services may be worthwhile when used in the context of an overall good nutrition regimen, some are simply capitalizing on an uniformed public that is eager for information.
Licensure provides the public, health insurance companies, and state and federal governments with the assurance that practitioners meet standards of professional competence in order to be reimbursed for providing nutrition care services. In states without licensure, nutrition professionals may be reimbursed despite meeting only some of the qualifications required to become a registered dietitian nutritionist.
State Licensure Overview
State governments play a vital role in creating and implementing policies that serve and protect the public. In the areas of food, nutrition and health, states may inspect or certify some food and food products, administer programs that provide food assistance and nutrition education to individuals and families, establish educational standards for schools, administer public health programs, regulate nursing homes, oversee insurance programs and help provide coverage for many. States also license health care and other service providers, including dietetics professionals, to assure the public that individuals providing health and personal services have met education, experience and examination requirements.
The majority of states have enacted laws that regulate the practice of dietetics. State licensure and state certification are entirely separate and distinct from registration or certification by the Commission on Dietetic Registration. For state regulation purposes, the terms licensure, statutory certification and registration are defined as the following:
- Licensing: Statutes that include an explicitly defined scope of practice, and performance of the profession is illegal without first obtaining a license from the state.
- Statutory Certification: Limits use of particular titles to persons meeting predetermined requirements, while persons not certified can still practice the occupation or profession.
- Registration: The least restrictive form of state regulation. As with certification, unregistered persons are permitted to practice the profession. Typically, exams are not given and enforcement of the registration requirement is minimal.
Dietetics practitioners are licensed by states to ensure that only qualified, trained professional provide nutrition services or advice to individuals requiring or seeking nutrition care or information. Only state-licensed dietetics professionals can provide nutrition counseling. Nonlicensed practitioners may be subject to prosecution for practicing without a license.
State Licensure Agencies and Statutes by State
The table below is a quick reference of each state's statutory provision (if applicable) regarding professional regulation of dietitians and/or nutritionists as of November 2013. For more information about licensure in individual states, visit CDR's page listing contact information for state licensure agencies.
Nature of Statute
|Alabama||Licensure of dietitian, nutritionist|
|Alaska||Licensure of dietitian, nutritionist|
|Arkansas||Licensure of dietitian|
|California||Title protection for dietitian, RD, and NDTR|
|Colorado||No statute except deceptive advertising|
|Connecticut||Certification of dietitian|
|Delaware||Licensure of dietitian, nutritionist|
|District of Columbia||Licensure of dietitian, nutritionist|
|Florida||Licensure of dietitian, nutritionist, nutrition counselor|
|Georgia||Licensure of dietitian|
|Hawaii||Licensure of dietitian|
|Idaho||Licensure of dietitian|
|Illinois||Licensure of dietitian nutritionist|
|Indiana||Certification of dietitian|
|Iowa||Licensure of dietitian|
|Kansas||Licensure of dietitian|
|Kentucky||Licensure of dietitian; Certification of nutritionist|
|Louisiana||Licensure of dietitian|
|Maine||Licensure of dietitian, NDTR|
|Maryland||Licensure of dietitian, nutritionist|
|Massachusetts||Licensure of dietitian, nutritionist|
|Michigan||Pending status: Licensure of dietitian, nutritionist approved by state leg., 2008; regulations & licensure board administration still pending|
|Minnesota||Licensure of dietitian, nutritionist|
|Mississippi||Licensure of dietitian; Title protection for nutritionist|
|Missouri||Licensing of dietitian|
|Montana||Licensure of nutritionist; Title protection for dietitian|
|Nebraska||Licensure of medical nutrition therapist|
|Nevada||Licensure for dietitian, LD, and RD|
|New Hampshire||Licensure of dietitian|
|New Jersey||No statute|
|New Mexico||Licensure of dietitian, nutritionist, nutrition associate|
|New York||Certification of dietitian, nutritionist|
|North Carolina||Licensure of dietitian, nutritionist|
|North Dakota||Licensure of dietitian, nutritionist, RD|
|Ohio||Licensure of dietitian|
|Oklahoma||Licensure of dietitian|
|Oregon||Licensure of dietitian|
|Pennsylvania||Licensure of dietitian-nutritionist|
|Puerto Rico||Licensure of dietitian, nutritionist|
|Rhode Island||Licensure of dietitian, nutritionist|
|South Carolina||Licensure of dietitian|
|South Dakota||Licensure of dietitian, nutritionist|
|Tennessee||Licensure of dietitian, nutritionist|
|Texas||Title protection for dietitian|
|Utah||Certification of dietitian|
|Vermont||Certification of dietitian|
|Virginia||Title protection for dietitian, nutritionist|
|Washington||Certification of dietitian, nutritionist|
|West Virginia||Licensure of dietitian|
|Wisconsin||Certification of dietitian|
|Wyoming||Licensure of dietitian|