Steps to Become a Registered Dietitian in Tennessee


Follow the step by step process or choose what situation that best describes you:

  1. Complete an Approved Education Program in Tennessee
  2. Apply to a Dietetic Internship (DI) in Tennessee
  3. Pass the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) Examination
  4. Apply for Licensure as a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist in TN.
  5. Maintain your License as a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist in TN.

Nutrition Job Information in Tennessee

According to the Commission on Dietetic Registration, there were 2,280 Registered Dietitians (RDs) and Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) in Tennessee as of April 2022. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that as of May 2021, dietitians and nutritionists in the state earned an average salary of $53,940. Early career professionals earned about $39,270, while seasoned pros with extensive experience earned about $78,940.

Tennessee’s metro areas of Knoxville and Bristol reported average salaries of $51,620 and $52,610, respectively, during this time.*

The Board of Dietitians/Nutritionists Examiners, which was enacted by the Tennessee 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).

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

The following bachelors and Master’s programs offer career-focused instruction delivered by trained nutritionists with experience in the field. Find out more what each individual course of study offers through the locations below.

Featured Nutritionist Programs

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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 in Tennessee, you must take the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) Examination.

You can expect to receive correspondence instructing you to register for the CDR Examination and pay the $200 application fee, both of which can be done online.

You will receive another email correspondence from Pearson VUE Exams, asking you to schedule the date, time and location of your exam. There are more than 250 Pearson VUE Testing Centers located throughout the United States, with Tennessee testing centers located in the following cities:

  • Brentwood
  • Nashville
  • Chattanooga
  • Knoxville

Once you have scheduled your exam time/date/location, you can prepare for the exam by studying the Comprehensive Study Outline and Study Guide and the Registration Examination for Dietitians Handbook for Candidates.

On the day of the exam, you must bring your government-issued photo ID, along with your confirmation email from Pearson VUE Exams, to sit for the test.
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:

  • Principles of Dietetics (25 percent of exam)
    • Food Science/ Nutrient Composition
    • Nutrition/ Supporting Sciences
    • Education/ Communication/Technology
    • Research Applications
  • Nutrition Care – Individuals and Groups (40 percent of exam)
    • Screening/ Assessment
    • Diagnosis
    • Planning/Intervention
    • Monitoring/Evaluation
  • Management of Food and Nutrition Programs and Services (21 percent of exam)
    • Functions of Management
    • Human Resources
    • Financial Management
    • Marketing/Public Relations
    • Quality Management and Improvement
  • Food Service Systems (14 percent of exam)
    • Menu development
    • Production, Procurement, Service, Distribution
    • Sanitation/ safety
    • Equipment/facility planning

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.

If you fail the exam, you may contact the Commission on Dietetic Registration at (312) 899-4859 or [email protected] 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

Congratulations! You have passed the CDR exam and are now eligible to apply for licensure in Tennessee as a Dietitian/Nutritionist. You must complete the application for dietician/nutritionist licensure using the Tennessee Online Application system.

You must first register with the system, which requires you to enter a username and password. You will also be required to use the site’s online secure credit card payment system to pay for the $140 application fee. You can also use the same site to review your status and view any further instructions on what documentation must be uploaded or mailed to the Board.

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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. CDR’s online CPE database can help you to find approved CPE activities in Tennessee. As of July 2019, they include:

  • Bariatric Summit 2019 by Cine-Med, Inc.
  • This is Us: Loneliness, Eating Disorder and the Importance of Community in Recovery by Eating Disorders Coalition of Tennessee
  • The effects of short-term fasting on quality of life and tolerance to chemotherapy in patients with breast and ovarian cancer: a randomized cross-over pilot by Sodexo Health Care Services
  • Understanding Levocarnitine by Dialysis Clinic Inc. Education Department
  • Anemia Management and Feraheme by Dialysis Clinic Inc. Education Department

View how to become a nutritionist in Tennessee here.

*2021 US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary figures and job growth projections for dietitians and nutritionists reflect state data not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Salary statistics representing entry-level/early career = 25th percentile; senior-level/highly experienced = 90th percentile. Data accessed April 2022.

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