State Requirements for Nutrition and Dietitian Fields

Nutrition Careers in District of Columbia

The District of Columbia is unique in that is does not truly qualify as a state. However, it does have its own licensing regulations for health professionals, including dietitians. The District of Columbia is also responsible for some innovations in dietetics and nutrition. In 2010, the District of Columbia City Council passed the Healthy Schools Act (HSA). This legislation was designed to improve student wellness at public schools in the district. It is of particular interest to Registered Dietitians and those who wish to become a Registered Dietitian in the District of Columbia. Included within the HSA is:

  • Health and wellness
  • Competitive foods
  • School environment
  • Health education
  • Physical activity and physical education
  • School nutrition
  • Student access to breakfast and lunch

Registered Dietitians in the District of Columbia are largely responsible for the provisions of the HSA, and have promoted the HSA through encouraging schools to become members of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation Healthy Schools Program; supporting nutrition related events at nearby schools; and getting involved with a local school’s wellness committee.

As of July 1, 2013, the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) of the American Dietary Association (ADA) states that there are 206 Registered Dietitians working in the District of Columbia. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that in May 2012, dietitians and nutritionists working in the District of Columbia earned an average mean wage of $62,530. If you would like to discover how to become a registered dietitian in the District of Columbia and reap not only monetary rewards but also gain professional fulfillment, read on.

 
Step 1

Registered Dietitian Education in DC

The District of Columbia Board of Dietetics and Nutrition requires that all who wish to work as licensed and Registered Dietitians in the district complete education accredited by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR)’s Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics.

ACEND-Accredited Educational Programs Leading to Registered Dietitian (RD) credentials in the District of Columbia:
  • Coordinated Programs in Dietetics (CP) - satisfy the CDR’s educational and internship prerequisites for registration. In DC, they include:
  • Didactic Programs in Dietetics (DPD)-satisfy the CDR’s educational prerequisite only—you must still complete an internship afterwards. In DC, they include:
  • Coursework in all Registered Dietitian programs will include classes in:
    • Mathematics
    • Microbiology
    • Physiology and anatomy
    • Biochemistry
    • Chemistry
    • Biology
    • Community nutrition
    • Nutrition education
    • Clinical nutritional care
    • Management
    • Dietetics
    • Nutrition
    • Food science

*Featured Master's Nutritionist Program:

American University’s online Master of Science in Nutrition Education will prepare you to become an influential leader in nutrition education and advocacy while promoting nutrition and healthy lifestyle choices in your community. This program does not prepare you to be a registered dietician. However, there are currently registered dieticians in this program for professional development and career advancement.

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Step 2

Apply to a Dietetic Internship (DI) in DC

After you have met the CDR’s educational prerequisites, you must meet their experiential prerequisite. Complete an ACEND-accredited Dietetic Internship (DI) in the District of Columbia. Currently there are no DIs in the District of Columbia, so you could attend DIs in nearby Maryland instead, including:

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Step 3

CDR Registration Exam for Registered Dietitians

If you are completing Option 1 above and have completed your Didactic Program in Dietetics and the Dietetic Internship, you are now ready to take the CDR’s Registered Dietitian Exam. (If you are seeking licensure via Option 2, skip this step and go on to Step 4).

Your extensive and thorough education and internship should make you feel quite confident that you can pass the CDR’s Registered Dietitian exam. The exam will cover most of the subjects included in your DPD program, in a computerized, multiple-choice, three-hour format. If you feel that you need extra help in preparing for the exam, the CDR provides resources on their website such as the   Study Guide for the Registration Examination for Dietitians and the Registration Examination for Dietitians Handbook for Candidates.

Also at the CDR website, you will apply to take and pay for the exam. The fee is $200 and payable by credit card. PSI Exam Centers will email you when they have received your payment, and prompt you to schedule your exam. The only PSI Exam Center located in Delaware is:

  • Georgetown – Delaware Tech Testing Center, Route 18, Carter Partnership Building, Room, 570

Please note that you must answer at least 125 questions on the CDR exam in order for it to be graded. The test will range from 125 to 145 questions.  You are not permitted to skip any questions, go back to change answers, or go back to review answers. You will receive your score at the test center after the exam is completed. If you pass, you will receive information from CDR about your new credentials as a Registered Dietitian (RD). If you fail, you may retake the exam in 45 days. Contact the CDR online to receive another authorization to test. 

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Step 4

Licensure as a Dietitian in the District of Columbia

You are now ready to apply for licensing to practice dietetics in the District of Columbia. Download the New License Application for Dietitians. Check at the top that you are applying for licensure by examination. Enclose a licensing fee of $229 payable by check or money order only to DC Treasurer. Along with your application, enclose:

  • Two recent, passport-sized photos of your face, with your name on the back
  • Current copy of your CDR registration card
  • Copy of your driver’s license or other government-issued photo identification card
  • Completed Supplemental  Information Form
  • Completed Supervision Verification Form
  • Moral Character Reference Form – give to two persons you wish to use as professional references and instruct them to return the form directly to the Board at the address on the form

You must also obtain a criminal background check, including fingerprinting. Information on this page can help you locate and schedule a center in which to accomplish this.
Mail the above information and payment to Department of Health, Health Professional Licensing Administration, Board of Dietetics, 899 North Capitol Street, NE, First Floor, Washington, DC 20002. Upon receipt, your application will be processed and you should receive your license by mail within six weeks.

*Extra: Want to Become a Nutritionist in the District of Columbia?

Would you rather work as a Nutritionist in the District of Columbia? In the District of Columbia the prerequisites for licensure for nutritionists are similar to those for dietitians, as their job descriptions in the District do not vary much. The prerequisites to become a nutritionist in the District of Columbia are:  

  • Completion of a bachelor’s degree or higher in dietetics, human nutrition, food systems management or food and nutrition, from a regionally accredited institution
  • Pre-professional dietetic or nutrition experience totaling 900 hours for at least 22 weeks but not more than 25 weeks; at least one hour a week must be under immediate supervision of a dietitian or nutritionist
  • Pass the CDR Examination for nutritionists (same as the CDR Registered Dietitian Examination)
  • Complete the licensing requirements outlined in Step 4 above, making sure to have your official, certified transcripts from colleges/universities attended mailed directly to the Board. Enclose payment of $264 via check or money order payable to DC Treasurer.

Mail the above information to Department of Health, Health Professional Licensing Administration, Board of Dietetics, 899 North Capitol Street, NE, First Floor, Washington, DC 20002. You will receive your Nutritionist license by mail in approximately six weeks. The renewal process and CE requirements for Nutritionists in the District of Columbia are identical to those for Registered Dietitians.

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Step 5

Licensure and Registration as a Dietitian in DC

Maintaining Your District of Columbia License

Your dietitian license in the District of Columbia will expire on November 1 of odd numbered years. About three months before its expiration date, the Board will send you a renewal notice. You will be given renewal forms and instructed about how to pay applicable renewal fees at that time. You must complete 30 hours of Continuing Professional Education (CPE) during each two-year period. Document your Continuing Education Units (CEUs) on this Continuing Education Submission Form. Make sure to attach a certificate of completion to each submission form, verifying that you have completed the CEUs. CEUs that are accredited/approved are listed on the DC Metro Area Dietetic Association’s website.

Maintaining your CDR Registration as a Registered Dietitian in the District of Columbia

The CDR requires renewal of your registration as a dietitian in the District of Columbia every five years. You must also take 75 hours of CPEUs (continuing professional education units) every five years. Use the CDR’s CPE Database  and   PDP Guide  to determine what are approved forms of CPE and how to properly submit them.

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