State Requirements for Nutrition and Dietitian Fields


Nutrition Jobs Information in California

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that in May 2012, California employed more Registered Dietitians than any other state, with 6300 dietitians and nutritionists working statewide. These nutritionists and dietitians averaged an annual salary of $68,700. The greatest concentration of dietitians working in California was in the Los Angeles/Long Beach/Glendale metropolitan area, earning $66,750 per year. Registered dietitians working in certain metropolitan areas of California earned higher wages than the average. For example, those employed in the Vallejo-Fairfield area averaged $79,020 per year; dietitians working in the Salinas area earned an average of $78,310 per year; those in the Oakland/Fremont/Hayward area averaged $77,050 per year; in the Santa Barbara/Santa Maria/Goleta area, $72,910 per year; and in the Sacramento/Arden/Arcade area, $72,590 annually. Use the following outline to become a registered dietitian in California.

Step 1

California Registered Dietitian Education

Under California code, dietitians must be registered if they want to practice in the state.  This includes fulfilling educational and experiential requirements of the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR). The CDR mandates that all Registered Dietitians in California complete education that is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND).

California ACEND-Accredited Programs Leading to Registered Dietitian (RD) Licensure:


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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

Complete a Dietetic Internship (DI) in California

After completing your coursework to become a Registered Dietitian in California, you must complete a Dietetic Internship (DI), in which you will gain valuable experience in the field of dietetics and nutrition. This is usually 1200 hours long and ranges from eight months to two years in duration.

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Step 3

Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) Exam

The Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) requires you to next pass the Registered Dietitian exam. You will receive an email from CDR when you have completed Steps 1 and 2 above and are therefore eligible to take the exam. You have one year from your date of eligibility status to schedule and take the exam.

Review for the exam via the CDR’s Study Guide for the Registration Examination for Dietitians. It is also helpful to read the Registration Examination for Dietitians Handbook for Candidates to better understand the process of applying for and taking the exam. You will register and pay online through CDR. Once your $200 exam payment is received, you will be sent an email from PSI Exams Online, the test centers that host the exam. You must at this time schedule the date and place of your exam. In California, exam centers include:

  • Anaheim – 2301 W. Lincoln Ave, Suite 252, Park Gate Center
  • Atascadero – 7305 Morro Rd., Suite 201A
  • Bakersfield – 5405 Stockdale Highway, Suite 206
  • Burbank – 2950 N. Hollywood Way, Suite 150
  • Carson – 17420 S Avalon Blvd, Suite 205
  • El Monte – 4399 Santa Anita Ave, Suite 110
  • Fresno-351 E Barstow, Suite 101
  • Hayward – 24301  Southland Dr., Suite B-1
  • Lancaster – 4555 West Ave G, Fox Field
  • Los Angeles – 3700 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 200
  • Redding – 2861 Churn Creek, Unit C
  • Riverside – 7888 Mission Grove Pkwy S., Suite 130
  • Sacramento – 9719 Lincoln Village Dr, Bldg 100, Suite 100
  • San Diego – 5440 Morehouse Dr, Suite 3300
  • San Francisco – 150 Executive Park Blvd, Suite 1100
  • Santa Clara – 2936 Scott Blvd
  • Santa Rosa – 160 Wikiup Drive, Suite 105

Questions on the CDR exam are multiple choice and based on Food and Nutrition Sciences, Nutrition Care for Individuals and Groups, Management of Food and Nutrition Programs and Services, and Foodservice Systems. You must answer 125 questions in order for the test to be scored. A scaled score of 25 or more passes the test. If you do not pass, you may retake the exam no sooner than 45 days after the exam date. Contact CDR via their website for more information.

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Step 4

California CDR Registration and Certifications

Maintaining your CDR Registration as a Registered Dietitian in California

Every five years your registration through the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) will come up for renewal. You must complete 75 CPEUs (continuing professional education units) during every five-year period. The CDR’s PDP Guide can help you to choose the best CPE activities for you. One course every five years must be in ethics.

Use Specialty Certification to Satisfy CPE Requirements

If you become certified in certain dietetic specialties, you may fulfill all 75 of your CPEU requirements for a five-year period. For many of these certifications, recertifying in the same specialty can fulfill the CPEUs for the next five-year period. Certifications include:

  • Board Certification as a Specialist in Oncology Nutrition (CDR)
  • Board Certification as a Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CDR)
  • Board Certification as a Specialist in Gerontological Nutrition (CDR)
  • Board Certification as a Specialist in Pediatric Nutrition (CDR)
  • Board Certification as a Specialist in Renal Nutrition (CDR)
  • Board Certified Advanced Diabetes Management (American Association of Diabetes Education –AADE)
  • Certified in Family and Consumer Sciences (American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences – AAFCS)
  • Certified Nutrition Support Clinician (National Board of Nutrition Support Certification – NBNSC)
  • Certified Advanced Health & Fitness Specialist (American Council on Exercise – ACE)
  • International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (International Board of Certified Lactation Educators – IBCLE)
  • Certified Group Fitness Instructor (ACE)
  • Certified Diabetes Educator (National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators – NCBDE)
  • Certified Lifestyle & Weight Management Consultant (ACE)
  • Certified Personal Trainer (National Council on Strength and Fitness – NCSF)
  • Certified Personal Trainer (ACE)

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Step 5

Become a Dietetic Technician, Registered instead?

Some California students may wish to enter the field of dietetics but not jump into the education and experience necessary to become a registered dietitian. The CDR offers another certification, Dietetic Technician, Registered (DTR). This certification requires an associate degree and 450 hours of clinical experience. It could be a good option for students who want to test the waters of the dietary field before becoming a full Registered Dietitian.  In California, ACEND-accredited DTR Programs include:

These programs usually combine the internship and coursework necessary to sit for the DTR exam. Once you have completed these requirements, you are ready to take the CDR Dietetic Technician, Registered Exam. Review the CDR’s Registration Technician Exam guide for information on studying for the exam. PSI Exam Centers listed in Step 3 are the same locations used for the DTR exam. Questions on the computerized exam are multiple-choice, and the length of the exam varies. Concepts tested include Foodservice Systems; Counseling, Education and Training; Management; Nutrition Services-Community and Clinical; and Food and Nutrition.

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