How to Become a Registered Dietitian (RD)

How to Become a Registered Dietitian (RD)

If you have a passion for nutrition and want to help others improve their health and well-being, a career as a Registered Dietitian (RD) may be the perfect fit for you. As an RD, you will have the opportunity to work with individuals and communities, providing them with the knowledge and support they need to make informed dietary choices.

Before you can become a Registered Dietitian, there are several steps you must take. The first step is to earn a bachelor’s degree in dietetics or a related field. This degree will provide you with the foundational knowledge and coursework needed to pursue a career in nutrition.



Once you have completed your bachelor’s degree, the next step is to complete an ACEND-accredited supervised practice program. This program typically involves working in a healthcare facility or a community setting, where you will gain hands-on experience in nutritional counseling, menu planning, and food service management. This supervised practice program is a crucial step in becoming an RD, as it provides you with the practical skills and experience needed to excel in your future career.

After completing your supervised practice program, you will need to pass the national registration exam for dietitians. This exam is administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) and tests your knowledge and understanding of nutrition and dietetics. Once you have passed the exam, you will be eligible to apply for state licensure, which is required in most states to practice as a dietitian.

Once you have completed all of these steps, you will be ready to start your career as a Registered Dietitian. The job outlook for dietitians is projected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations, with a projected 15% increase in employment from 2016 to 2026. The salary of dietitians can vary depending on factors such as location, experience, and job setting. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for dietitians and nutritionists was $61,270 in May 2018.

If you are interested in pursuing a career as a Registered Dietitian, it is important to visit the website of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics for more information. They have a page dedicated to the credentialing process, which includes detailed information on the education and experience requirements, as well as the steps you need to take to become registered. They also have a salary and job outlook page, which can give you a better understanding of what to expect in terms of salary and job opportunities.



Education and Training

To become a registered dietitian (RD), individuals must complete a specific educational and training pathway. This pathway typically involves earning a bachelor’s degree in a field related to nutritional studies. The degree must be completed at an accredited educational facility, such as NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.

Once the bachelor’s degree is earned, aspiring RDs must then complete a supervised internship program. This internship, also known as a didactic program in dietetics, is typically completed through an accredited program that meets the specifications set by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). The internship can take anywhere from 6 months to 1 year to complete, depending on the program.

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During the internship, individuals will gain practical experience in various settings, such as hospitals, clinics, and community health-care facilities. They will work under the supervision of licensed dietitians, learning how to assess nutritional needs, develop meal plans, and provide dietary counseling to patients. This hands-on experience is crucial in preparing individuals for a career in dietetics.



Upon completion of the internship, individuals must then pass the national registration examination for dietitians. This exam is administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) and is required for RD licensure. Once individuals pass the exam, they can use the RD credential and are eligible to apply for state licensure, if required in their state.

It’s important to note that the process of becoming an RD may vary slightly between different states and countries. Some states may require additional certifications or licenses, while others may have different educational requirements. It’s important for individuals to research and understand the specific requirements in their area.

Continuing education is also an important aspect of maintaining RD licensure. RDs are required to complete a certain number of continuing education credits every few years to stay up-to-date with the latest research and practices in the field of dietetics. This ensures that RDs are providing the highest level of care and expertise to their clients.

In summary, becoming a registered dietitian involves completing a bachelor’s degree in a related field, followed by a supervised internship program. Individuals must then pass a national registration examination and may need to obtain state licensure. Continuing education is also necessary to maintain licensure and stay current in the field. With the right education and training, individuals can pursue a rewarding career in the dietetics industry.

RD Certification and Licensure

Obtaining RD certification and licensure is a crucial step in becoming a registered dietitian. This certification ensures that you have met the necessary requirements and have the knowledge and skills to practice as a professional in the field of nutrition.

The first step in obtaining RD certification is to complete the required education and training. You must have a bachelor’s degree in nutrition or a related field from an accredited university. It is recommended to pursue a degree in nutrition and dietetics, as this will provide you with the necessary coursework and practical experience.

Once you have completed your bachelor’s degree, you will need to apply for and complete an accredited internship program. These internships typically last for about 6-12 months and provide supervised practice in various settings, such as hospitals, community health centers, and food service facilities. The internship program is designed to give you hands-on experience and prepare you for the challenges of working as a registered dietitian.

After completing your internship, you will need to pass the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) exam. This exam is administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) and tests your knowledge and skills in the field of nutrition and dietetics. Passing this exam is a requirement for obtaining RD certification.

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In addition to RD certification, some states also require licensure to practice as a registered dietitian. The licensure requirements vary by state, so it is important to check with your state’s licensing board for specific details. Licensure typically involves submitting an application, paying a fee, and meeting certain educational and experiential requirements.

It is worth noting that there is an alternative pathway to becoming a nutrition professional called the Nutrition and Dietetic Technician, Registered (NDTR) credential. This credential requires a two-year associate degree in nutrition and dietetics and passing the NDTR exam. While NDTRs have a slightly different scope of practice compared to RDs, they can still work in a variety of settings and provide valuable nutrition services.

The field of nutrition and dietetics is constantly evolving, and staying up-to-date with the latest research and trends is essential. Continuing education is a requirement for maintaining RD certification and licensure. This may involve attending conferences, taking courses, or participating in webinars to expand your knowledge and skills.

Career Opportunities and Salary

As a registered dietitian (RD), you have several career opportunities available to you. You can work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, schools, government agencies, and private practice. RDs can also find employment in corporate wellness programs, food manufacturers, and research institutions. The demand for RDs is expected to grow in the coming years, as more people become aware of the importance of nutrition in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

The salary of an RD can vary depending on factors such as location, experience, and level of education. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for dietitians and nutritionists was $61,270 in May 2020. The highest 10 percent earned more than $87,360, while the lowest 10 percent earned less than $39,840.

In some states, RDs may earn a higher salary than in others. For example, California has one of the highest average wages for dietitians and nutritionists, with an annual mean wage of $76,400. On the other hand, states like West Virginia and South Dakota have lower average wages, with annual mean wages of $50,190 and $47,340, respectively.

It’s important to understand that salary is not the only factor to consider when pursuing a career as an RD. The work itself can be rewarding, as you have the opportunity to make a positive impact on people’s lives by helping them improve their health through proper nutrition. RDs also have the chance to work with a diverse range of individuals, from children to the elderly, and from athletes to individuals with chronic illnesses.

When applying for RD positions, having a credentialing statement can be beneficial. This statement is a brief summary of your qualifications and can help potential employers understand why you are the best candidate for the job. It should include information such as your educational background, areas of expertise, and any relevant certifications or licenses you hold.

RDN Licensure Requirement

If you are interested in pursuing a career in dietetics, becoming a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) is a necessary step. To become an RDN, you must complete the required education and training, pass a national examination, and obtain a license in your state.

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Education and Training: The first step towards becoming an RDN is to earn a bachelor’s degree in dietetics or a related field from an ACEND-accredited program. ACEND stands for the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics, and it is the accrediting agency for dietetic education programs. During your education, you will learn about the science of nutrition, food service management, and medical nutrition therapy.

RD Certification and Licensure: After completing your bachelor’s degree, you will need to complete a dietetic internship or an individualized supervised practice program (ISPP). These programs are designed to provide graduates with the practical experience necessary to become an RDN. The internship or ISPP typically takes about 6 to 12 months to complete and involves working in various settings, such as hospitals, long-term care facilities, and community organizations.

Career Opportunities and Salary: Once you have completed your education and training, passed the national examination, and obtained your RDN license, you will have a wide range of career opportunities available to you. RDNs can work in hospitals, private practice, schools, food service management, research, and many other settings. The salary for RDNs can vary depending on factors such as location, experience, and job responsibilities.

RDN Licensure Requirement: In order to practice as an RDN, you must be licensed in your state. The requirements for licensure vary by state, so it is important to research the specific requirements for the state in which you plan to practice. Some states may require additional exams or have specific education or experience requirements. It is also important to note that the term “dietitian” is protected by law in many states, so only individuals who have met the licensure requirements can use this title.

FAQ

What is a dietitian?

A dietitian is a healthcare professional who specializes in food and nutrition. They provide advice and guidance to individuals on how to maintain a healthy diet and prevent or manage various health conditions.

What are the requirements to become a registered dietitian?

To become a registered dietitian (RD), you need to complete a bachelor’s degree in dietetics or a related field, complete a supervised internship program, and pass a national examination. Additionally, you may need to obtain a state license or certification, depending on the requirements in your area.

How long does it take to become a registered dietitian?

The length of time it takes to become a registered dietitian can vary. It typically takes around four years to complete a bachelor’s degree in dietetics, followed by a supervised internship program that can range from six months to a year. After completing the internship, you will need to pass a national examination. Overall, the process can take around five to six years.

What is the salary of a registered dietitian?

The salary of a registered dietitian can vary depending on factors such as experience, location, and work setting. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for dietitians and nutritionists was $61,270 in May 2020. However, salaries can range from around $38,000 to over $87,000 per year.

What are some career opportunities for registered dietitians?

Registered dietitians can work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, private practice, schools, and food service companies. They can also specialize in areas such as sports nutrition, pediatric nutrition, or geriatric nutrition. Additionally, some dietitians may choose to pursue careers in research or education.

What is a registered dietitian?

A registered dietitian is a healthcare professional who specializes in food and nutrition. They have completed a bachelor’s degree in dietetics, completed a supervised practice program, and passed a national examination to become registered.

Dave Pennells

By Dave Pennells

Dave Pennells, MS, has contributed his expertise as a career consultant and training specialist across various fields for over 15 years. At City University of Seattle, he offers personal career counseling and conducts workshops focused on practical job search techniques, resume creation, and interview skills. With a Master of Science in Counseling, Pennells specializes in career consulting, conducting career assessments, guiding career transitions, and providing outplacement services. Her professional experience spans multiple sectors, including banking, retail, airlines, non-profit organizations, and the aerospace industry. Additionally, since 2001, he has been actively involved with the Career Development Association of Australia.