State Requirements for Nutrition and Dietitian Fields

Bachelor Degree in Nutrition and Dietetics - Online

Possessing a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and dietetics is the standard for most Registered Dietitian Nutritionist jobs.  Each state regulates its dietitians and nutritionists, mandating how much education and  experience is required and what examinations must be passed in order to be called a licensed or certified Registered Dietitian (RD) or Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN). In addition to state licensure, certification and/or registration, registered dietitian nutritionists are also regulated nationally by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR). The minimum requirement for registration as a RD or RDN through the CDR is a bachelor’s degree. This degree must be earned from a school that has received accreditation through the  Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Here, we will discuss the benefits of getting a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and dietetics and what you can do with that degree once you have it.

Reasons to Earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition

Even if you aren’t sure that you want to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), working within other fields in nutrition and dietetics becomes much easier when you have a bachelor’s degree in nutrition or a related area. Bachelor’s degrees in nutrition are available in a variety of formats, including online, on-campus and hybrid, making this education convenient for students at all stages of life.
Some people opt to earn a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and dietetics and then go on to get a graduate degree while working in the field. This allows them to gain valuable work experience while pursuing further education. Others use that bachelor’s degree in nutrition to begin a lucrative, challenging and fulfilling career.

Careers Available for Holders of a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition

Many who earn a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and dietetics do so with the aim of becoming a Registered Dietitian (RD) or Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN). While these are popular and admirable career tracks, they are not the only ones available for those who hold a bachelor’s degree in the nutrition and dietetics discipline. Other career options include:

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Examples of Bachelor’s Degrees in Nutrition and Dietetics

As mentioned above, if you are planning to earn a bachelor’s degree in the nutrition and dietetics arena, make sure that the program you choose holds accreditation through the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Some examples of bachelor’s degree programs in nutrition include (but are not limited to):

  • Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Science
  • Bachelor of Science in Human Biology- Emphasis in Nutrition & Dietetics
  • Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Foods
  • Bachelor of Science in Nutrition & Dietetics
  • Bachelor of Science in Nutrition
  • Bachelor of Science in Exercise and Nutrition Science – Specialization in Dietetics

Coursework and Internship in a Bachelor’s Degree Program in Nutrition

Courses that you will likely take in a bachelor’s degree program in nutrition and dietetics may include (but are not limited to):

  • Ethnic Influences on Nutrition
  • Science of Food Preparation
  • Food and Nutritional Health
  • World Food and Population Issues
  • Human Nutrition
  • Nutritional Biochemistry
  • Quantity Food Production and Service
  • Life Cycle Nutrition
  • Management in Dietetic Practice
  • Community & Public Health Nutrition
  • Advanced Nutrition and Metabolism
  • Medical Nutrition Therapy

Under the rules of ACEND, in addition to completing a bachelor’s degree program in order to qualify for the RDN credential, you must also complete a dietetic internship. This supervised practice consists of at least 1000 hours of supervised practice in order to achieve RDN eligibility. Rotations are available in a variety of areas, including medical nutrition therapy, food systems management, community nutrition and dietetics research.

Credentialing and Specialization for Nutrition and Dietetics Bachelor’s Degree Holders

The most popular credential for those who hold a bachelor’s degree in nutrition is the RDN credential, designating that one is recognized nationwide as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. Obtaining this credential currently involves getting a bachelor’s degree, completing the required internship and passing the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) exam.
As of January 1, 2024, the CDR will require at least a master’s degree in order to sit for the national credentialing examination that you must pass in order to become a RDN. You must still graduate from a school that is accredited by ACEND, complete a dietetic internship, and pass the exam, but will no longer be able to hold just a bachelor’s degree to qualify for RDN credentialing.
There are other areas of nutrition and dietetics in which you may specialize and/or become credentialed if you hold a bachelor’s degree and a certain number of years of experience in the field (and pass an examination). The following specialized credentials are also administered by CDR:

  • Board Certified Specialist in Renal Nutrition
  • Board Certified Specialist in Pediatric Nutrition
  • Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics
  • Board Certified Specialist in Gerontological Nutrition
  • Board Certified Specialist in Oncology Nutrition

Other credentials that you may pursue after you have a bachelor’s degree and are an RDN include:

  • Certified Diabetes Educator, of the Certification Board for Diabetes Care and Education
  • Certified Food Manager, of the American National Standards Institute
  • Certified Dietary Manager, of the Association of Nutrition & Foodservice Professionals
  • Certified Health Education Specialist, of the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing
  • Certified Nutrition Support Clinician, of the National Board of Nutrition Support Certification
  • Certified Eating Disorders Specialist, of the International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals

Salaries and Job Outlook for Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition Holders

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) of the U.S. Department of Labor notes that job opportunities for dietitians and nutritionists (careers in which a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in nutrition is necessary) are projected to increase by 8 percent, at a rate that is much faster than the average growth rate for all  other occupations, between 2019 and 2029.
The annual mean wage for Registered Dietitians/Registered Dietitian Nutritionists as of May 2020 is $64,150. The highest-paying states in which RDs/RDNs work include:

  • California:                                                         $81,070
  • Alaska:                                                             $78,350
  • District of Columbia:                                         $73,150
  • Hawaii:                                                             $72,810
  • New Jersey:                                                      $72,750

Top-paying industries in which RDs/RDNs work are:

  • Federal Exec Branch:                                         $77,580
  • Home Health Care Services:                               $73,460
  • Outpatient Care Centers:                                   $70,650
  • Spectator Sports:                                              $69,370
  • Employment Services:                                       $69,140
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