Charting Your Path for a Rewarding Career in Nutrition and Dietetics
Navigating the world of nutrition and which foods are ideal for your health can be confusing. The good news is that there are dedicated professionals in the field of nutrition and dietetics who can help.
NutritionEd and the World of Nutrition and Dietetics
Meet Registered Dietitians (also known as Registered Dietitian Nutritionists), Dietetic Technicians, Registered (also called Nutrition and Dietetics Technician, Registered), Licensed Nutritionists, and Non-Licensed Nutritionists. These are highly trained, experienced health care professionals, working in diverse settings, who offer invaluable advice and education on what to eat, what to avoid, and the nutritional value of foods.
Here’s a brief introduction to each nutrition expert:
- Registered Dietitians (RDs) and Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs): Experts who provide tailored advice on what to eat and what to avoid and are authorized to treat clinical medical issues.
- Dietetic Technicians, Registered (DTRs): Works under the supervision of a RD and assists in nutritional guidance and is a critical part of the team.
- Licensed Nutritionists: Licensed professionals with specialized knowledge in nutrition.
- Non-Licensed Nutritionists: Knowledgeable individuals in the field, even if not licensed.
Find Nutrition Degrees and Learning Resources
NutritionEd.org is a valuable resource and starting point for individuals interested in pursuing a degree in nutrition. We offer comprehensive information about accredited nutritionist programs and the various pathways to achieve a degree–whether you’re looking for online nutritionist education or a traditional degree in nutrition. Moreover, a degree in nutrition and dietetics opens doors to a wide range of opportunities in the field of health and wellness.
We also offer you the latest insights into nutrition and dietetics. Discover the importance of informed skepticism in nutrition and nutrition education. Learn how nutritionists strike a balance between diet and quality of life. What is ultrarunning? Explore sustainable nutrition, along with how to create a personalized nutrition plan.
The Booming Field of Dietetics and Nutrition – A Profession Full of Possibilities
Considering a career in dietetics and nutrition? You’re in the right place!
Dietetics and nutrition is a dynamic field on the rise and expected to increase over the next decade. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor, careers in dietetics and nutrition are projected to increase by 11% from 2020 to 2030.*
The best part? This exciting field can be entered into with as little as an associate degree.
Quality Nutrition Education Matters
The following bachelors and Master’s programs offer career-focused instruction delivered by trained nutritionists with experience in the field. Find out more what each individual course of study offers through the locations below.
American University offers two different programs focused on Nutrition and Health. Their 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 and beyond. Or Earn your Master of Science in Health Promotion Management from AU’s award-winning program in just 20 months with $10K available in scholarships upon enrollment (qualifier is a 3.0 GPA).
UNC's MPH Nutrition concentration prepares students to provide, evaluate and communicate nutritional and dietary guidance that improves individual and population-wide health outcomes. In addition to developing their knowledge of nutrition science, students will explore behavior change, communication, counseling and the effects of dietary culture on individuals and communities.
Arizona State University offers an Online Master of Science in Nutritional Science - Dietetics. Along with an Online Masters in Medical Nutrition
Bay Path University's health and wellness certificates build the knowledge, skills, and experience you need to upskill your abilities in your profession or to provide a robust concentration to your degree program for a specific role. Learn more about the Certificate in Food Science and Safety certificate.
If you want to work in fitness and nutrition, take the first step toward a new career with one of Penn Foster's accredited, online fitness and training programs. These affordable programs are all offered online, and can be taken at your own pace.
Grand Canyon University offers an M.S. in Nutrition and Dietetics.
Winthrop University offers an Online Master of Science in Human Nutrition and an Online Master of Science in Sport and Fitness Administration
Number of Registered Dietetic Professionals in the US & Its Diversity
According to the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly known as the American Dietetic Association, or ADA), as of April 2022, there are more than 116,000 members. The predominate members are made up of Registered Dietitians (RD), while a single digit percent are Dietetic Technicians, Registered (DTR). The remaining members consist of licensed and non-licensed nutritionists, educators, students, and researchers.
- Registered Dietitians (RDs) and Register Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNS)
- Dietetic Technicians Registered (DTRs) and Nutrition and Dietetics Technicians Registered (NDTRs)
- Board Certified Specialists in Pediatric Nutrition (CSP)
- Board Certified Specialists in Sports Dietetics (CSSD)
- Board Certified Specialists in Oncology Nutrition (CSO)
- Board Certified Specialists in Gerontological Nutrition (CSG)
- Board Certified Specialists in Renal Nutrition (CSR)
- Board Certified Specialists in Obesity and Weight Management (CSOWM)
- Advanced Practice Certification in Clinical Nutrition (RDN-AP or RD-AP)
- Board Certified in Pediatric Critical Care (CSPCC)
Diversity and Accessibility
While the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is based in the United States, it’s a global hub of diversity, welcoming individuals from various cultures, educational backgrounds (educators, students, researchers), ethnicities, geographic locations, races, and more. Access to food and nutrition information and values are provided in a variety of languages and formats.
State Requirements and Licensing for Nutrition Careers
Curious about your state mandates for nutrition and dietetics careers? Understanding the legalities of practicing nutrition is crucial.
We provide an easy-to-read breakdown of the states where dietitians and nutritionists must be licensed or certified and what’s required to practice as a nutritionist or dietitian in your geographic area. Plus, we highlight the significance of Registered Dietitians in terms of government recognition and insurance reimbursement eligibility. You’ll also find information on title protection for these professions and the few states where no regulation exists.
While anyone can offer nutrition counseling and guidance, insurance reimbursement is a benefit reserved exclusively for Registered Dietitians.
To sum up requirements:
- Dietitians: Licensure required in numerous states.
- Nutritionists: Licensure needed in specific states.
- Title Protection: Certain states offer title protection.
- Exceptions: Some states have no regulations.
For more details on nutrition state requirements and licensing, click on your state or the geographic area you want to practice:
|Although there is no legal opposition to individuals performing nutrition counseling on their own, insurance limitations regarding reimbursement eligibility may apply.|
|The answer to whether anyone can perform nutrition counseling on their own remains yes, however only an RD (Registered Dietitian) is accredited and authorized to be recognized by the US Government as performing services that are eligible for reimbursement under the current health care laws.|
|Unless an individual is licensed (or exempt in some cases), that individual cannot legally perform specific nutrition counseling. Additional licenses are available for nutritionists not interested in becoming an RD.|
|Unless an individual is licensed (or exempt in some cases), that individual cannot legally perform specific nutrition counseling. The fact remains that unless one becomes licensed as an RD, they would remain ineligible.|
Although there is no legal opposition to individuals performing nutrition counseling on their own, insurance limitations regarding reimbursement eligibility may apply.
The answer to whether anyone can perform nutrition counseling on their own remains yes, however only an RD (Registered Dietitian) is accredited and authorized to be recognized by the US Government as performing services that are eligible for reimbursement under the current health care laws.
Unless an individual is licensed (or exempt in some cases), that individual cannot legally perform specific nutrition counseling. Additional licenses are available for nutritionists not interested in becoming an RD.
Unless an individual is licensed (or exempt in some cases), that individual cannot legally perform specific nutrition counseling. The fact remains that unless one becomes licensed as an RD, they would remain ineligible.
Your Guide on How to Become a Nutritionist or Registered Dietitian
Becoming a Registered Dietitian involves approved and accredited educational programs and state requirements. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) regulates the Registered Dietitian and Registered Dietitian Nutritionist practice nationwide. Each state might have additional criteria and requirements for certification and licensure, in addition to those required to obtain RD credentials.
Many states require that nutritionists and dietitians hold licensure in order to be legally able to practice within that state. Others require licensure for dietitians but not nutritionists, and some require no licensure at all.
As of 2022, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has outlined the following state requirements.
- Dietitians must be licensed or certified in the following states: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
- Nutritionists must be licensed or certified in the following states: Alabama, Alaska, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Washington
- Title protection is offered for dietitians in: California, Montana, Texas, Virginia
- Title protection is offered for nutritionists in: Mississippi, Virginia
- Nebraska offers licensure for medical nutrition therapists
- No statutes regulating dietitians or nutritionists exist in these states: Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, New Jersey
Key Considerations for State Licensing and Certification Requirements
Here are important points to keep in mind when considering state licensure and certification requirements:
- Although there is no legal opposition to individuals providing nutrition counseling independently, insurance limitations regarding reimbursement eligibility may apply.
- Only a RD or RDN is accredited and to provide services eligible for reimbursement under current healthcare laws in the US.
- Unless an individual is licensed or exempt, they cannot legally perform specific nutrition counseling in states in which licensure or certification is required.
- In many states, only RDs or RDNs professionals are legally eligible for performing nutrition counseling and receiving insurance reimbursement for their services.
Registered Dietitian Requirements By State
Becoming a registered dietitian requires acquiring the necessary education and hands-on experience via recognized and accredited programs. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) regulates the Registered Dietitian practice nationwide. Each state may also impose their unique criteria for certification and licensure, alongside the prerequisites for attaining RD credentials.
Ready to Begin Your Journey in Nutrition and Dietetics?
It’s time to take the next step. On NutritionEd.org you can explore nutrition degree programs – associates, bachelors, masters, doctorate – dig into articles, career specializations and salary, and gain a clear understanding of your state’s specific requirements. Together, it helps you take a healthier next step towards a rewarding and fulfilling career in nutrition and dietetics.
*2021 US Bureau of Labor Statistics job growth projections for dietitians and nutritionists reflect national data not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed April 2022.