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How to Become a Dietitian

Bachelor's degree

Nutritionists and dietitians explain nutrition to their clients and educate them about healthy eating choices. The majority of nutritionists and dietitians have a bachelor's degree. Many receive supervised training as part of their studies and through an internship. Licensing is required by many paces.

Education & Training

Most nutritionists and dietitians have a bachelor's degree in foods and nutrition, dietetics, clinical nutrition or food systems management. Related courses in biology, nutrition, chemistry and psychology are required. Numerous dietitians and nutritionists have advanced degrees in related subjects.


Nutritionists and dietitians normally undergo several hundred hours of supervised training. This is commonly conducted via an internship once college graduation is complete. Certain schools have Coordinated Programs in Dietetics to enable students to complete their supervised training component as part of their graduate or undergraduate level classes.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

It is common for nutritionists and dietitians to need a license. Some places accept certification or local registration and there are certain locations where there are zero regulations for this career. Most licensure requirements require having a bachelor's degree in a food and nutrition related subject, successfully passing an exam and supervised practice.

A RDN credential or Registered Dietitian Nutritionist credential is often obtained by dietitians. In states that require licensure, the RDN qualifications are often the same. Numerous employers prefer an RDN so be sure to check with future employers.

The RDN designation requires nutritionists and dietitians to finish a minimum of a bachelor's degree along with a Dietetic Internship Program. Students can finish both criteria simultaneously by utilizing a Coordinated Program. Alternatively, they may complete coursework requirements prior to applying for an internship.

The Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics or ACEND is responsible for approving the RDN designation. In order to keep the RDN credential once it has been obtained, a variety of continuing education requirements are required by Registered Dietitian Nutritionists.

The CNS or Certified Nutrition Specialist title may be earned by nutritionists. This credential showcases an advanced level of knowledge has been obtained. The CNS credential is often accepted for licensing purposes. Applicants must have at least 1000 hours of experience and a doctoral or master's degree in order to qualify for the CNS exam.

Nutritionists and dietitians may look for extra certification in specialty areas such as pediatric nutrition or sports nutrition.

Skills and Qualities that will Help

Analytical Skills: Nutritionists and dietitians need to stay current with the latest research regarding nutrition. They need to accurately interpret scientific papers while being able to communicate nutritional science into simple eating advice.

Compassion: It is vital to be empathetic and caring to clients as part of addressing dietary issues is dealing with emotions that could be related to guilt, shamed, malnourishment and body image concerns.

Listening Skills: Nutritionists and dietitians need to be able to listen carefully in order to understand client's concerns and goals. They may choose to work with numerous healthcare workers as part of the team to improve a patient's overall health and have team members listen while developing specific eating and meal plans.

Organizational Skills: There are numerous aspects regarding the work of nutritionists and dietitians; therefore, it is necessary to be highly organized. For instance, management dietitians are responsible for not only delivering the nutritional needs for their clients by also budgeting the cost of meal planning. Self-employed nutritionists and dietitians will have to maintain patient files and book their appointments.

Problem-Solving Skills: Constantly evaluating the health status of patients in order to decipher the most accurate food choices is vital for managing disease processes and improving overall health.

Speaking Skills: Nutritionists and dietitians are responsible for explaining complex topics clearly so individuals with less technical expertise can comprehend. They must articulate eating plans and be able to communicate to other healthcare professionals who are involved in patient's care.