About the Profession

The dietitian is the translator of nutrition science into the skill of furnishing optimal nourishment to people. Traditionally, dietitians function as members of the health care team in providing nutritional care through assessment of nutritional needs, planning and implementation of nutritional care and provision of dietary counseling. In administrative dietetics, dietitians are traditionally concerned with all aspects of management of nutritional services through planning, budgeting, supervision, and computerized evaluation of food service systems. Increasingly, dietitians are involved in private, independent nutrition consultation and practice as well as assuming more corporate management roles in food industry, health, and promotion businesses.

As the overall recognition of the importance of nutrition increases in both disease treatment and prevention, highly specialized and advanced-level roles are emerging for dietitians. These advanced-level roles require practice as an entry-level dietitian with professional development of additional knowledge and skills. Graduate programs are being designed to develop both advanced level knowledge and skills in various specialty areas such as pediatrics, geriatrics, clinical management, wellness counseling, nutrition support, and many others.

Graduates of the Dietetic Internship program are employed in a variety of work environments throughout the United States. Graduates of the master’s program are employable in academic, research, clinical, and community nutrition facilities.

Steps to Becoming a Dietitian

  1. Complete a bachelor’s degree and receive a verification statement from an ACEND-accredited program (Didactic Program in DieteticsCoordinated ProgramFuture Graduate ProgramForeign or International Dietitian Education Program)
  2. Complete an ACEND-accredited supervised practice dietetic internship program or Individual Supervised Practice Pathway is an option. Supervised practice/experiential learning is combined with the Coordinated ProgramFuture Graduate Program, and International Dietitian Education Program.
  3. Pass the Commission on Dietetic Registration’s dietetic registration exam.
  4. Gain licensure in your state of practice, if applicable.

Effective January 1, 2024, the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) will require a minimum of a master’s degree to be eligible to take the credentialing exam to become a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN). In order to be approved for registration examination eligibility with a bachelor’s degree, an individual must meet all eligibility requirements and be submitted into CDR’s Registration Eligibility Processing System (REPS) before 12:00 midnight Central Time, December 31, 2023. For more information about this requirement visit CDR’s website: https://www.cdrnet.org/graduatedegree. In addition, CDR requires that individuals complete coursework and supervised practice in program(s) accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND).

For more information about educational pathways to become a RDN click here.