Steps to Become a Registered Dietitian in Virginia


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

  1. Complete an Educational Program in Virginia
  2. Apply to and Complete a Dietetic Internship in Virginia
  3. Pass the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) Exam
  4. Practice as a Registered Dietitian in Virginia
  5. Seek Professional Certification in Virginia

Career Info in Virginia

According to the Commission on Dietetic Registration, there were 2,546 Registered Dietitians (RDs) and Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) in Virginia as of April 2022. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that nutritionists and dietitians in Virginia earned an average salary of $63,500 as of May 2021. Early career professionals earned about $47,750, while seasoned professionals earned about $85,630 during this time.

Richmond reported an average salary of $62,810 for dietitians and nutritionists as of May 2021, while the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News metro area reported an average salary of $60,370.*

Virginia is a state in which dietitians need not be registered, licensed or certified in order to legally work within the commonwealth. However, there are education, training and experience requirements that the Board of Health Professions mandates you meet before practicing as a dietitian in Virginia.

Practicing as a registered dietitian (RD) in Virginia, therefore, requires the completion of a number of steps, which will be explored in depth here.

Step 1

Complete an Educational Program in Virginia

The first step to practicing as a registered dietitian (RD) in Virginia is working toward a bachelor’s degree or higher in one of the following areas:

  • Nutritional sciences
  • Community nutrition
  • Public health nutrition
  • Food and nutrition
  • Dietetics
  • Human nutrition

Furthermore, in order to be eligible to sit for the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) exam, you must complete a program that is approved by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). The following didactic programs in dietetics (DPD) within Virginia are accredited by ACEND:

The following didactic programs in dietetics (DPD) Virginia are accredited by ACEND:

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 in Virginia

After completing your ACEND-approved DPD education, you must apply for and complete an ACEND-approved dietetic internship (DI) in Virginia. All ACEND-approved DI programs include at least 1,200 hours of supervised practice that is completed in 8 to 24 months.
The following DI programs are ACEND-approved in Virginia:

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Step 3

Pass the (CDR) Exam in Virginia

After you successfully complete your DI program, you will receive notification to register to take the CDR examination and pay the application fee of $200. You have up to one year from the time you complete your DI program to apply for and pass the CDR exam.

You will receive notification of your registration and payment, along with a request to schedule your exam date, location, and time with Pearson VUE Exams. Within Virginia, you may take the CDR exam at the Pearson VUE testing centers in:

  • Alexandria
  • Glen Allen
  • Lynchburg
  • Newport News
  • Reston
  • Richmond
  • Roanoke

Upon scheduling your exam date, you may review and prepare for the exam by studying the Comprehensive Study Outline and Study Guide and the Registration Examination for Dietitians Handbook for Candidates.

The CDR exam is a computer-based, multiple-choice examination that consists of about 125 questions, 25 of which are pretest questions that are not scored. You will have 3 hours to complete the examination, 30 minutes of which can be spent familiarizing yourself with the exam structure and computer. You will also be provided with a simple calculator to take the exam. You will not be permitted to bring your own calculator to the exam.

On completion of the exam, you will be notified whether you have passed or failed the test, along with your test score. You must receive a scaled score of at least 25 (on a scale of 0 to 50) to pass the exam.

If you fail the CDR exam, you may retest after 45 days. You must obtain reauthorization (and pay the examination fee) by email at [email protected], or by telephone at (312) 899-4859.


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Step 4

Practice as a Registered Dietitian in Virginia

Virginia does not license, certify, or register dietitians or nutritionists to practice in Virginia. However, Virginia Code states that you cannot practice as a dietitian unless you have completed the training, education and exam requirements outlined in Steps 1 through 3. As there is no licensure or certification in Virginia, there is no renewal nor continuing education with which to be concerned. Remember, you must still maintain your RD credential through the CDR and meet their requirements as outlined in the next step.

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Step 5

Seek Professional Certification in Virginia

As a Registered Dietitian through the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR), you must renew your registration every five years. Use the CDR’s PDP Guide, which will assist you in selecting appropriate continuing professional education to keep your registration current. You must complete a minimum of 75 continuing professional education units (CPEUs) during every five-year renewal period. CDR’s online CPE database can help you to find approved CPE activities in Virginia.

Earning Specialty Professional Certifications in Dietetics and Nutrition

Another way in which you can fulfill the CDR’s CPE requirements and make yourself more marketable as a Registered Dietitian in Virginia is to pursue specialty professional certifications. Many of these certifications will satisfy part, or all, of the CDR’s CPE requirements every five years. As of 2017, CDR-recognized dietary specialty certifications include (but are not limited to):

View how to become a nutritionist in Virginia 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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