An RD is a food and nutrition expert who has met the academic and professional requirements as established by the Commission on Dietetic Registration. Dietetics practitioners are licensed by states to ensure that only qualified, trained professionals provide nutrition services or advice to individuals requiring or seeking nutrition care or information. Only state — licensed dietetics professionals can provide nutrition counseling. State requirements are frequently met through the same education and training required to become an RD.
A registered dietitian is a food and nutrition expert who has met academic and professional requirements including:
- Earned a bachelor’s degree with course work approved by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Coursework typically includes food and nutrition sciences, foodservice systems management, business, economics, computer science, sociology, biochemistry, physiology, microbiology and chemistry.
- Completed an accredited, supervised practice program at a health-care facility, community agency or foodservice corporation.
- Passed a national examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration.
- Completes continuing professional educational requirements to maintain registration.
How is an RD different than a nutritionist?
- The RD credential is a legally protected title that can only be used by practitioners who are authorized by the Commission on Dietetic Registration of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
- Some states have licensure laws that define the range of practice for someone using the designation “nutritionist,” but in other states, virtually anyone can call him- or herself a “nutritionist” regardless of education or training.
- Individuals with the RD credential have fulfilled specific requirements, including having earned at least a bachelor’s degree (about half of RDs hold advanced degrees), completed a supervised practice program and passed a national registration examination — in addition to maintaining continuing education requirements for re-certification.