State Requirements for Nutrition and Dietitian Fields


Dietitian Career Information in Pennsylvania

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Pennsylvania ranked third, in May 2012, among the states with the highest employment level for dietitians and nutritionists, behind only California and New York.  The mean annual salary for dietitians and nutritionists in Pennsylvania during this time was $47,360. In addition, Pennsylvania ranked second in among all states (just behind Rhode Island) for its concentration of jobs and location quotients for dietitians and nutritionists.

The Pennsylvania metropolitan areas with high employment levels in the United States (and their mean annual salaries), as of May 2012, included:

  • Philadelphia, PA Metropolitan Division: $53,210
  • Pittsburgh, PA: $42,990

The terms “dietitian” and “nutritionist” are interchangeable in Pennsylvania, and both of these professions require licensure in this state. To work as a licensed and registered dietitian-nutritionist (and use the term LDN), you must complete the following steps:

Step 1

Education Programs in Dietetics in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania law states that all licensed and registered dietitians-nutritionists in Pennsylvania must achieve a bachelor’s degree or higher from a Board-approved, regionally accredited college or university, with a major course of study in: human nutrition, food nutrition, dietetics, or food system management.

Further, to qualify to sit for the Commission on Registered Dietitians (CDR) exam and become a registered dietitian (RD), you must complete an Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND)-approved program. 

ACEND-Accredited Program Leading to Registered Dietitian (RD) Licensure in Pennsylvania:


*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

Dietetic Internship (DI) in Pennsylvania

Upon the completion of a didactic program in dietetics, you must apply for a dietetic internship (DI) approved by ACEND. All ACEND-approved DI programs include at least 1,200 hours of supervised practice. Upon completion of a DI program, you will be eligible to sit for the CDR examination.
The following DI programs are located in Pennsylvania:

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Step 3

CDR Registered Dietitian Exam in Pennsylvania

  1. Upon completion of a coordinated education program or dietetic internship in Pennsylvania, you are eligible to sit for the CDR Examination. Your program administrator will provide CDR with your eligibility status. You will then receive correspondence from ACT Inc., the company that handles the CDR exams, asking you to register and pay the $200 application fee.
  2. Once you pay the application fee and register online, you will receive an email from PSI Exams, the company that operates the 250 PSI Testing Centers across the nation.  At this time, you must register for the date, time and location of your exam. There are PSI Testing Centers located in the following Pennsylvania cities:
    1. Allentown
    2. Bristol
    3. Clarks Summit
    4. Cranberry Township
    5. Greensburg
    6. Erie
    7. Harrisburg
    8. King of Prussia
    9. Philadelphia
    10. Pittsburgh
  3. You may prepare to take the CDR exam by reading the Study Guide for the Registration Examination for Dietitians and the Registration Examination for Dietitians Handbook for Candidates.
  4. The CDR is a computer examination with multiple-choice questions. Although the structure of the test changes from time to time, you can expect about 125 questions in the following categories:
    1. Food and Nutrition Sciences
    2. Nutrition Care for Individuals and Groups
    3. Management of Food and Nutrition Programs and Services
    4. Foodservice Systems
  5. You have 2 ½ hours to complete the examination, with another 30 minutes reserved for non-scored, pretest questions. PSI Testing Centers will provide you with a simple calculator to complete the examination.
  6. You will be notified immediately upon finishing the examination of your score. You must score at least 25 on a scale of 0 to 50.
  7. If you fail the exam, you will have the opportunity to retest after 45 days, provided you re-register to take the exam with CDR (1-800-877-1600) and pay the application fee.

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Step 4

State Licensure in Pennsylvania

Once you successfully complete the CDR exam and become a registered dietitian (RD), you can apply for state licensure as a dietitian-nutritionist in Pennsylvania.

You must complete the Application for Licensure and send it, along with a $45 application fee (made payable to the Commonwealth of PA), to:

Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing
P.O. Box 2649
Harrisburg, PA 17105-2649

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Step 5

Maintain License and CDR Reg. in Pennsylvania

State License Renewal

Your Pennsylvania dietitian-nutritionist state license must be renewed biennially, and you must submit documentation of at least 30 board-approved continuing professional education credits to be eligible for license renewal. The cost of renewal is $65.

Registered Dietitian Renewal

You must renew your CDR registration every 5 years and submit evidence of the completion of at least 75 continuing education credits. You are required to track your continuing education credits through the CDR’s Professional Development Portfolio.

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