State Requirements for Nutrition and Dietitian Fields


Nutrition Job Information in Tennessee

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual, mean salary for dietitians and nutritionists in Tennessee was $50,209 to $51,780. The industries with the highest levels of employment for dietitians and nutritionists, as of May 2012, were: general medical and surgical hospitals; nursing care facilities; outpatient care centers; local government; and personal care services.

The Board of Dietitians/Nutritionists Examiners, which was enacted by the State Legislature in 1987, requires that all individuals practicing as dietitians or nutritionists be qualified. The titles “dietitian” and “nutritionist,” according to the Board, can be used interchangeably.

To become qualified to practice as a dietitian/nutritionist in Tennessee, you must complete a number of steps:

Step 1

Approved Education Program in Tennessee

To qualify to become a registered dietitian (RD) and apply for licensure in Tennessee, you must first complete an educational program that results in a bachelor’s or graduate degree in food and nutrition, human nutrition, dietetics, or food systems (or an equivalent) from that is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND).

All educational programs in Tennessee are Didactic Programs, which are programs that result in an undergraduate or graduate degree. Upon the completion of a didactic program, you will need to apply for a competitive dietetic internship (DI) in Tennessee (See Step 2).

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

The following dietetics programs in Tennessee are accredited by ACEND:


*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 Tennessee

Upon the successful completion of a didactic program in dietetics, you must apply to and complete a dietetic internship (DI) accredited by ACEND. All ACEND-accredited programs offer at least 1,200 hours of supervised practice (Tennessee law states that a course of supervised practice through a DI must be at least 900 hours).

The following ACEND-accredited DI programs are located in Tennessee:

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Step 3

Pass (CDR) Examination in Tennessee

Upon the successful completion of a DI program, you must take the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) Examination.

  1. You can expect to receive correspondence from ACT Inc., the company contracted to handle the CDR Examination, which details the registration process. You must register for the CDR Examination and pay the $200 application fee, both of which can be done online.
  2. Once ACT receives your registration and registration fee, you will receive another email correspondence from PSI Exams, asking you to schedule the date, time and location of your exam. There are more than 250 PSI Testing Centers located throughout the United States, with Tennessee testing centers located in the following cities:
    1. Chattanooga
    2. Jackson
    3. Johnson City
    4. Knoxville
    5. Memphis
    6. Nashville
  3. Once you have scheduled your exam time/date/location, you can prepare for the exam by studying the Study Guide for the Registration Examination for Dietitians and the Registration Examination for Dietitians Handbook for Candidates.
  4. On the day of the exam, you must bring your government-issued photo ID, along with your confirmation email from PSI Exams, to sit for the test.
  5. The CDR is a computer-based, multiple-choice examination that includes 125 questions, 100 of which are scored. The CDR exam consists of the following components:
    1. Food and Nutrition Sciences
      1. Management concepts
      2. Research
      3. Education and communication
      4. Food science and nutrient composition of foods
      5. Nutrition and supporting sciences
    2. Nutrition Care for Individuals and Groups
      1. Diagnosis
      2. Planning and intervention
      3. Monitoring and evaluation
      4. Screening and assessment
    3. Management of Food and Nutrition Programs and Services
      1. Quality improvement
      2. Human resources
      3. Financial management
      4. Function of management
      5. Marketing and public relations
    4. Food Service Systems
      1. Equipment and facility planning
      2. Sanitation and safety
      3. Menu development
      4. Procurement, production, distribution and service
      5. Sustainability
  6. Upon completion of the examination (you will have 2 ½ hours to complete the exam), you can receive your score immediately by clicking the “report” button in your online account. You must receive a score of 25 (on a scale of 0 to 50) to pass the exam.
  7. If you fail the exam, you may contact the Commission on Dietetic Registration at 1-800-877-1600 to obtain authorization to retest. You can retest every 45 days, with no limit, provided you register and pay the application fee.

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Step 4

Licensure as a RD/Nutritionist in Tennessee

After passing the CDR exam, you may apply for licensure as a registered dietitian/nutritionist in Tennessee. You must complete the Licensure Application, have it notarized, and send it, along with the $140 application fee (check or money order made payable to the State of Tennessee), to:

State of Tennessee
Department of Health
Health Related Boards
Heritage Place, Metro Center
227 French Landing, Suite 300
Nashville, TN 37243

A signed, passport-style photograph (taken within the last 12 months), your CDR (notarized), and one letter of recommendation from a professional attesting to your personal character and professional ethics must be included with your application. You must also ask your institution to send your official transcripts directly to the Board.

You can contact the Board of Dietitians/Nutritionist Examiners at 615-532-3202/1-800-778-4123 if you have any questions about applying for licensure.

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Step 5

Maintain RD/Nutritionist License in Tennessee

Tennessee Licensure Renewal

Continuing education for license renewal is not mandatory in Tennessee. However, the Board recognizes “continuing competency,” so all dietitians/nutritionists are encouraged to attend and participate in professional continuing education programs.
You must renew your dietitian/nutritionist license every two years, on the last day of your birthday month. You can renew your license online through Tennessee’s Department of Health online renewal system. The cost of online renewal is $90.

CDR Registration Renewal

To maintain your CDR Registration, you must complete at least 75 continuing educational units every 5 years to qualify for renewal. You can track your CPEs and learn more about the renewal process by maintaining a CDR Professional Development Portfolio.

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