State Requirements for Nutrition and Dietitian Fields


Nutrition Careers in South Carolina

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual mean salary for dietitians and nutritionists in the United States, as of May 2012, was $55,240. Nutritionists and dietitians in South Carolina, during the same period, earned a median annual salary of between $32,410 and $50,280.

The South Carolina Panel for Dietitians, which is part of the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation (LLR), defines a registered dietitian (RD) as an expert in food and nutrition who has met the minimum academic and professional requirements to qualify for the RD credential. To practice as an RD in South Carolina, you must be licensed in the State of South Carolina, which involves completing the following steps:

Step 1

RD Educational Program in South Carolina

According to South Carolina law, you must first earn a bachelor or graduate degree from a regionally accredited college or university in human nutrition, nutrition education, foods and nutrition, public health nutrition, or an equivalent course of study. The program you attend must be accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) in order to sit for the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) exam, a prerequisite for obtaining the RD designation.

The following programs in South Carolina are ACEND-accredited:

If you want to become a certified and registered nutritionist in South Carolina, you must earn the Certified Nutritionist Specialist (CNS) designation through the Certification Board for Nutritional Specialists (CBNS), as South Carolina does not license nutritionists. You must meet the following requirements to be eligible to sit for the CNS exam and become a certified nutrition specialist:

  • Earn a master’s or doctoral degree in one of the following nutrition-related fields:
    • Community nutrition
    • Public health nutrition
    • Human nutrition
    • Dietetics
    • Food and nutrition
    • Nutritional sciences
  • Within your program, you must complete the following coursework requirements:
    • 9 credit hours in nutrition-related courses
    • 12 credit hours in life or clinical sciences
    • 3 credit hours in anatomy/physiology
    • 6 credit hours in biochemistry
  • Complete at least 1,000 hours of documented, supervised practice in nutrition

The CNS credential requires recertification every 5 years. To recertify as a CNS, you must complete at least 75 continuing education credits in nutrition.


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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

Dietetic Internship in South Carolina

After completing the ACEND-accredited education program and achieving a bachelor’s or graduate degree, you must apply to and complete a dietetic internship (DI) approved by ACEND. All ACEND-approved DIs include at least 1,200 hours of supervised practice over a course of 8 to 24 months, depending on whether the program is part-time or full-time.
The following ACEND-approved DI programs are located in South Carolina:

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Step 3

Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) Exam

  1. Following the successful completion of your DI program, you will be eligible to sit for the CDR examination, a computer-based examination that includes the following topics:
    1. Food and Nutrition Sciences
    2. Nutrition Care for Individuals and Groups
    3. Management of Food and Nutrition Programs and Services
    4. Food Service Systems
  2. Your DI program administrator will inform CDR of your eligibility to sit for the CDR exam, and you can expect to receive an email from ACT Inc., the company contracted to handle all CDR examinations. ACT will ask you to register to take the exam and pay the $200 examination fee, both of which are done online.
  3. Upon receipt of your registration and payment, ACT will contact PSI Exams, who will the contact you to schedule the date, time, and location of your exam at one of their 250 locations nationwide. Within South Carolina, you may test at one of the following PSI Testing Center locations:
    1. Beaufort
    2. Charleston
    3. Columbia
    4. Greenville
    5. Myrtle Beach
  4. You can prepare for the CDR examination by reading the Study Guide for the Registration Examination for Dietitians and the Registration Examination for Dietitians Handbook for Candidates.
  5. On the day of your exam, you must bring the PSI confirmation email and your government-issued photo identification with you.
  6. The CDR exam is a computer-based, multiple-choice examination that includes about 125 questions, 25 of which are non-scored, pretest questions. You will be given 30 minutes to familiarize yourself with the computer and test structure and then 2 ½ hours to complete the examination.
  7. You can view your score immediately upon finishing the exam, as it is located in the “report” section of your online account. You must score at least 25 (on a scale of 0 to 50) to pass the exam.
  8. If you fail the exam, you must contact CDR at 1-800-877-1600, ext. 5500 to obtain reauthorization if you want to retest. You may retest after 45 days, provided you pay the examination fee and re-register with CDR.

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Step 4

Licensure as an RD in South Carolina

After passing the CDR exam, you are eligible to apply for state licensure as an RD in South Carolina. In addition to a completed Application for Licensure, you must provide the Panel with:

  • A non-refundable application fee of $175 (check made payable to LLR)
  • A copy of your signed CDR card (or other proof of registration)
  • A recent, full-faced, 2”x2” passport-style photo

Mail the completed application and related documents to:
SC Panel for Dietetics
PO Box 11329
Columbia, SC 29211

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Step 5

Maintain License and Reg. in South Carolina

State Licensure Renewal Requirements

You must renew your RD license every 2 years (May 31 of odd-numbered years) and pay a biennial renewal fee of $100. There are no continuing education requirements in South Carolina, although you must maintain your current registration with the Commission on Dietetic Registration to qualify for renewal.

Online renewal is encouraged, and the LLR charges as $25 service fee for all renewals done in person instead of online.

CDR Renewal Requirements

To maintain your RD credential, you must recertify with CDR every 5 years and provide documentation of at least 75 hours of continuing education.


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