State Requirements for Nutrition and Dietitian Fields


Iowa Nutrition Job Information

The Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) says that as of August 1, 2013, there are 985 Registered Dietitians in Iowa. To become a registered dietitian in Iowa, you must complete education to earn at least a bachelor’s degree and a supervised dietetic and nutrition practice internship of at least 900 hours’ duration. You must then pass a national registration examination for dietitians. Dietitian licensing through the Iowa Board of Dietitians also requires that you fulfill the CDR’s mandates before you can legally work as a dietitian in the state.

In May 2012, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says that dietitians and nutritionists working in Iowa earned an average annual mean wage of $50,960. Dietitians and nutritionists in Iowa earning in the 75th percentile made up to $58,020 per year, while dietitians and nutritionists in Iowa earning in the 90th percentile earned $66,070 annually. If you would like to learn how to become a registered dietitian in Iowa, keep reading.

Step 1

Finish Registered Dietitian Education in Iowa

Only licensed and registered dietitians may practice in the state of Iowa. This means that you must complete a course of dietitian education in Iowa that is approved by the Accreditation Council on Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) of the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR).

Iowa ACEND-Accredited Educational Programs Leading to Registered Dietitian (RD) status:

  • Coordinated Programs in Dietetics (CP) – Combines dietary courses and an internship at the graduate or undergraduate levels. As of August 2013, there are no CPs in Iowa.
  • Didactic Programs in Dietetics (DPD)- Provide dietary courses at the graduate or undergraduate level:

Courses included in a CP or DPD program in Iowa will cover:

  • Advanced human nutrition and metabolism
  • Scientific study of food
  • Nutrition and health assessment
  • Foundations of dietetic practice
  • Nutrition in growth and development
  • Food ingredient, interactions and formulations
  • Food laws, regulations and the regulatory process
  • Community nutrition
  • Medical nutrition and disease
  • Nutrition counseling and education
  • Quantity food production management
  • Food Service management systems
  • Statistics
  • Microbiology
  • Biochemistry
  • Psychology
  • Organic chemistry
  • Physiology
  • Human anatomy
  • Public speaking

*Featured Master's Nutritionist Program:

UNC's Online MPH With Nutrition Concentration. UNC's top-ranked public health school offers an online MPH with Nutrition concentration. Complete in 20 months. Bachelor's degree required. GRE Required.

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.

Benedictine University's Online Master’s Degrees in Nutrition and Wellness programs offer an advanced education in nutrition science with a focus on promoting health and wellness.

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Step 2

Apply to a Dietetic Internship (DI) in Iowa

The CDR and the state of Iowa require that you complete a supervised internship in dietetics of at least 900 hours duration. ACEND-approved Dietetic Internships (DIs) in Iowa are:

  • Iowa State University, Ames
    • Six months, full-time
    • Emphasis is on technology in health promotion
    • This program allows applicants to complete the DI in geographic areas of their choice. Up to 24 percent of the supervised practice experience in dietetics may be completed in the country of Ghana.
  • University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City
    • 10 months, full-time
    • Emphasis is on medical nutrition therapy

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Step 3

Pass the CDR Registration Exam for RDs

Upon completion of your internship, and with your dietitian education in Iowa finished, you should be well prepared to pass the CDR’s National Registration Exam for Dietitians. This is required of both the CDR for registration purposes and the Iowa Board of Dietetics for licensing purposes. The exam lasts about 180 minutes and is taken on the computer. It is made up of 125 to 145 multiple-choice questions on subjects that you studied in your dietitian education. You must answer 125 questions at least, and cannot skip or change any answers. It costs $200 to take the exam. Registration and payment for the exam is available online through CDR. The exam is given at PSI Exam Centers, and you may register online to schedule the exam. In Iowa, these include:

  • Cedar Rapids – 4935 Bowling Street, SW, Suite 203
  • Council Bluffs – 1705 McPherson, Suite 300
  • Sioux City – 4647 Stone Avenue, Robert H. Kiser Building, Room 258
  • West Des Moines – 1001 Office Park Road, Suite 315

You will receive your test results onscreen as soon as you finish the exam. In addition, a proctor at the PSI Exam Center site will print your score report for you. You must get a scaled score of 25 on a scale of 0 to 50 to pass the exam. Exams may be re-taken in 45 days if you fail on the first try. Contact CDR to reschedule your exam.

When you pass the exam, you receive credentials as a Registered Dietitian (RD) that you may use with your name.

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Step 4

Apply for Licensure as a Dietitian in Iowa

Congratulations on passing the CDR’s National Registration Exam for dietitians! You are now a Registered Dietitian through the CDR, but you must still become a licensed dietitian (LD) in Iowa in order to legally work in the state. The fee for initial licensure is $120, payable via check or money order to the Iowa Board of Dietetics. Along with your completed Application for Dietetic Licensure and the fee, submit:

  • Official college/university transcripts (must be sent directly from your school to the Board)
  • A verification statement completed by your program director at your school to verify you have completed all coursework and internship requirements
  • Copy of your current CDR registration card, notarized
  • Signed application

Mail everything to Iowa Board of Dietetics, Iowa Department of Public Health, Bureau of Professional Licensure, Lucas State Office Building, 5th Floor, 321 East 12th St, Des Moines, IA 50319-0075.Once you are licensed, you may view and print your licensure status online. Go onto and your active licensure status will be posted. The Board will mail your license and wallet card to you. Once received, you may advertise your credentials as a Registered Dietitian (RD) and Licensed Dietitian (LD) in the state of Iowa.

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Step 5

Maintain Your Licensing and Registration in Iowa

Maintaining Your Iowa Dietitian Licensing

You must renew your license to practice dietetics with the Iowa Board of Dietetics every two years. Download and print the Renewal of an Iowa Dietitian License form. The renewal fee is $120, payable via check or money order to the Iowa Board of Dietetics. During each two-year licensing period, you must complete 30 hours of continuing professional education (CPE). This CPE must be related to the profession of dietetics. Any CDR-approved CPE qualifies as approved under the Iowa Board of Dietetics. Approved forms of CPE include:

  • Academic coursework
  • Scholarly publications
  • Poster sessions
  • Presenters
  • Staff development training

Keep records of your CPE, as you may be selected to be randomly audited by the Board.

Maintaining your CDR Registration as a Registered Dietitian in Iowa

The CDR requires that you renew your registration with them every five years. You must complete 75 hours of CPE during each five-year period. Iowa’s CPE activities can be found on CDR’s CPE Database .You should also check the CDR’s PDP Guide to learn how to create a CPE portfolio. Currently, approved CPE for CDR registration renewal purposes in Iowa includes courses and activities such as:

  • Cross-cultural Communication and Nutrition Assessment – Des Moines
  • Care Management of the Adult Patient with Diabetes – Des Moines
  • Cultural Diversity Awareness – Ottumwa
  • Hyperlipidemia-West Des Moines
  • Current Issues in Nutrition: Appetite, Satiety and Body Weight Regulation  - Ames
  • Web Design – Hire Out or Do It Yourself?
  • Reinhart Foodservice Fall Food Show 2013 – Coralville
  • Reinhart Foodservice Better Together with Reinhart Food and Product Show – Council Bluffs
  • Motivational Interviewing: Supporting Patients in Health Behavior Change – Des Moines

What if I wish to become a Nutritionist in Iowa?

Some potential registered dietitian students or those who are already Registered Dietitians (RD) and Licensed Dietitians (LD) in Iowa go on to seek certification as a Nutritionist. This can be a boon to your existing credentials and resume, and may help you to find more career opportunities. Certification for nutritionists is available through various organizations, including the Clinical Nutrition Certification Board (CCNB). In order to take their certification test, you must have a bachelor’s degree and have completed coursework (much of which you have already taken in your Registered Dietitian training in Iowa) including: 

  • Three credit hours in each of these subjects:
    • Anatomy and physiology
    • Chemistry
    • Biochemistry
    • Microbiology
    • Human biology
  • At least one three credit hour course in five of these subjects:
    • Nutrition and disease
    • Introduction to nutrition
    • Nutrition assessment
    • Nutrition counseling
    • Nutrition and supplementation
    • Advanced nutrition
    • Herbology
    • Nutrition and aging

Before taking the certification exam for nutritionists, you must also complete the Post Graduate Studies in Clinical Nutrition Program (PGSCN) online.  If you pass the test, you will receive the credentials of CCN (Clinical Certified Nutritionist) in Iowa.

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