Educational and professional requirements
Registered Dietitians (RDs) or Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) are food and nutrition experts who have met the following criteria and earned the RD or RDN credential:
- Completed a minimum of a bachelor’s degree at a U.S. regionally accredited university or college or foreign equivalent, and coursework through an Accreditation Council for Education in Dietetics (ACEND) accredited Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) or Coordinated Program in Dietetics (CP).
- Complete 1200 hours of supervised practice through an ACEND accredited Dietetic Internship, Coordinated Program in Dietetics or an Individualized Supervised Practice Pathway (ISPP) offered through an ACEND accredited program.
- Passed a national examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR). For more information regarding the examination, refer to CDR’s website at www.cdrnet.org. In order to maintain the credential, an RD or RDN must complete continuing professional educational requirements.
Some RDs or RDNs hold additional certifications in specialized areas of practice. These are awarded through CDR, the credentialing agency for the Academy, and/or through other medical and nutrition organizations. These certifications are recognized within the profession, but not required. Some of the certifications include pediatric or renal nutrition, sports dietetics, oncology, gerontological, nutrition support and diabetes education.
In addition, many states have regulatory laws (i.e. licensure) for food and nutrition practitioners. All states accept the RD or RDN credential for state licensure purposes.
College course work
Dietetics students study a variety of subjects, including food and nutrition sciences, biochemistry, physiology, microbiology, anatomy, chemistry, foodservice systems, business, pharmacology, culinary arts, behavioral social sciences and communication.
RDs or RDNs work in a wide variety of settings, including health care, business and industry, community/public health, education, research, government agencies and private practice. Many work environments, particularly those in medical and health-care settings, require that an individual be credentialed as an RD or RDN.
RDs or RDNs work in:
- Hospitals, clinics or other health-care facilities, educating patients about nutrition and administering medical nutrition therapy as part of the health-care team. They may also manage the foodservice operations in these settings, or schools, daycare centers or correctional facilities, overseeing everything from food purchasing and preparation to managing staff.
- Sports nutrition and corporate well ness programs, educating clients about the connection between food, fitness and health.
- Food and nutrition-related business and industries, working in communications, consumer affairs, public relations, marketing, product development or consulting with chefs in restaurants and culinary schools.
- Private practice, working under contract with healthcare or food companies, or in their own business. RDs or RDNs work with foodservice or restaurant managers, food vendors and distributors, athletes, nursing home residents or company employees.
- Community and public health settings, teaching, monitoring and advising the public and helping improve quality of life through healthy eating habits.
- Universities and medical centers, teaching physician’s assistants, nurses, dietetics students, dentists and others about the sophisticated science of food and nutrition.
- Research areas in food and pharmaceutical companies, universities and hospitals directing or conducting experiments to answer critical nutrition questions and find alternative foods or nutrition recommendations for the public
More career information is available here from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.