State Requirements for Nutrition and Dietitian Fields

Career Info in Virginia

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual salary for dietitians and nutritionists in Virginia was between $51,860 and $85,870 in May 2012, which is close to the national mean annual salary of $56,170.

The BLS also reported that the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria metropolitan area had the eighth highest employment levels in the nation in May 2012. Dietitians and nutritionists in this area had a mean annual salary of $61,440. 

Further, Southwest Virginia ranked third as the top-paying nonmetropolitan area for dietitians and nutritionists in May 2012, with an annual mean salary of $65,520.

Practicing as a registered dietitian (RD) in Virginia requires the completion of a number of steps:

Step 1

Complete an Educational Program in Virginia

The first step to practicing as a registered dietitian (RD) in Virginia is working toward a bachelor’s degree or higher in one of the following areas:

  • Nutritional sciences
  • Community nutrition
  • Public health nutrition
  • Food and nutrition
  • Dietetics
  • Human nutrition
To be eligible to sit for the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) exam, you must complete a program that is approved by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND).

The following didactic programs in dietetics (DPD) Virginia are accredited by ACEND:

If you want to practice as a registered nutritionist in Virginia, you must earn the Certified Nutritionist Specialist (CNS) credential through the Certification Board for Nutritional Specialists. You may apply to take the CNS exam provided you must:

  • Possess a master’s or doctoral degree in one of the following fields:
    • Nutrition
    • Nutritional Sciences
    • Human Nutrition
    • Dietetics
    • Food and nutrition
    • Community nutrition
    • Public health nutrition
  • Show completed coursework in the following areas:
    • Nutrition (9 credit hours)
    • Biochemistry (6 credit hours)
    • Life/clinical sciences (12 credit hours)
    • Anatomy/physiology (3 credit hours)
  • Complete at least 1,000 hours of documented, supervised practice in the field of nutrition

You must recertify for the CNS credential every 5 years and complete at least 75 hours of continuing education credits.

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Step 2

Dietetic Internship in Virginia

After completing your ACEND-approved education, you must apply for and complete an ACEND-approved dietetic internship (DI) in Virginia. All ACEND-approved DI programs include at least 1,200 hours of supervised practice that is completed in 8 to 24 months.
The following DI programs are ACEND-approved in Virginia:

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Step 3

Pass the (CDR) Exam in Virginia

  1. After you successfully complete your DI program, you will receive notification from ACT, Inc., the company CDR contracts out to provide its examinations. At this time you must register to take the examination and pay the application of $200. You have up to one year from the time you complete your DI program to apply for and pass the CDR exam.
  2. You will receive notification of your registration and payment, along with a request to schedule your exam date, location, and time with PSI Exams. There is about 250 PSI testing centers nationwide. Within Virginia you may take the CDR exam at the PSI testing centers in:
    1. Charlottesville
    2. Falls Church
    3. Richmond
    4. Roanoke
    5. Tyson’s Corner
    6. Virginia Beach
  3. Upon scheduling your exam date, you may review and prepare for the exam by studying the Study Guide for the Registration Examination for Dietitians and the Registration Examination for Dietitians Handbook for Candidates.
  4. The CDR exam is a computer-based, multiple-choice examination that consists of about 125 questions, 25 of which are pretest questions that are not scored. You will have 3 hours to complete the examination, 30 minutes of which can be spent familiarizing yourself with the exam structure and computer. You will also be provided with a simple calculator to take the exam. You will not be permitted to bring your own calculator to the exam.
  5. Upon completion of the exam, you will be notified whether you have passed or failed the test, along with your test score. You must receive a scaled score of at least 25 (on a scale of 0 to 50) to pass the exam.
  6. If you fail the CDR exam, you may retest after 45 days, but you must re-register and pay the registration fee again. Contact the Commission on Dietetic Registration at 1-800-877-1600 ext. 5500 to apply for reauthorization to re-register.

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Step 4

Practice as a Registered Dietitian in Virginia

Virginia does not license, certify, or register dietitians or nutritionists to practice in Virginia. However, Virginia Code states that you cannot practice as a dietitian unless you have completed the training, education and exam requirements outlined in Steps 1 through 3.

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Step 5

Seek Professional Certification in Virginia

You may choose to advance your dietitian career by pursuing professional certification.
The CDR offers seven certification programs for dietitians and nutritionists:

  • Board Certified Specialist in Gerontological Nutrition (CSG)
  • Board Certified Specialist in Rental Nutrition (CSR)
  • Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD)
  • Dietetic Technician, Registered (DTR)
  • Registered Dietitian (RD)
  • Board Certified Specialist in Oncology Nutrition (CSO)
  • Board Certified Specialist in Pediatric Nutrition (CSP)

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Virginia Resources

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