What is a Registered Dietitian (RD) and Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)?
A Registered Dietitian, also known as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, is an individual who has completed the following requirements:
- Minimum of a bachelor's degree from a US regionally accredited institution
- Academic requirements from an ACEND-accredited Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD)
- A dietetic internship program from an ACEND-accredited program
- Successful completion of the Registration Examination for Dietitians, administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR)
- Maintenance of continuing professional education requirements
RD/RDNs translate the science of nutrition into practical solutions for healthy living. They use their nutrition knowledge and expertise to help individuals make positive lifestyle changes that are tailored to that individual's lifestyle and health needs by taking into account that individual's health background (i.e. disease state(s), anthropometrics, dietary history, and biochemical data), willingness to make lifestyle changes, and ability to make changes (i.e. financial, social, and environmental factors).
RD/RDNs serve as advocates for advancing the nutritional status and wellness of their patients, clients, local communities, the nation, and the world.
Where Do RD/RDNs Work?
Registered Dietitian Nutritionists are employed in hospitals and other health care facilities, government and public health agencies, food industry companies, schools and universities, private practice, and a variety of other settings. Opportunities also exist for RDNs to be employed in wellness and sports nutrition programs and in sales and marketing for business and industry.
Career Opportunities for RD/RDNs
- Clinical Dietitian/Nutritionist*
- In a health care setting, including acute and long term care facilities specializing in rehabilitation and eating disorders
- Public Health or Community Nutritionist*
- Consultant Dietitian in Private Practice*
- Sports Dietitian*
- Nutrition Educator or Teacher
- Nutrition Specialist (for food industries)
- Restaurant Manager
- Food Service Director (in acute care hospitals, extended care facilities, educational institutions)
- Pharmaceutical/Medical Sales Representative
- Nutraceutical Industry
- Corporate Wellness
- Culinary Arts
- Public Policy Development
- Non-profit Advocacy Groups/Organizations
- National and International Health Organizations
- College/University Educator
- Nutrition Writer
- Kitchen Design Consultant
- State/Federal Food & Nutrition Administrator
*Requires RD/RDN and/or LD/LDN
The median salary for dietitians working less than five years was $63,340 per year according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ 2017 Dietetics Compensation and Benefits Survey. Compensation differs based on type of position, length of employment, geographic location, and supply of RDNs. Typically compensation ranges from about $47,800 (10th percentile) to $100,000 (90th percentile). More information can be found at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
How do I become an RD/RDN?
Certain educational and professional requirements must be met to earn the title and credential of RD/RDN. These include:
- Completion of a minimum of a bachelor’s degree from a U.S. regionally accredited university or college or foreign equivalent, and coursework through an Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) accredited Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) or Coordinated Program in Dietetics (CP).
- The UF DPD program satisfies the current minimum requirement of a bachelor's degree.
- After the DPD program is completed, supervised practice through a dietetic internship (see below) must also be completed before a student can sit for the Registration Exam.
- Beginning in 2024, the minimum education requirement will be changed to a Master's degree.
- Completion of 1200 hours of supervised practice through an ACEND accredited dietetic internship, CP, or an Individualized Supervised Practice Pathway (ISPP) offered through an ACEND accredited program.
- Completion of the UF MS-DI program fulfills this component of the pathway to becoming an RD/RDN.
- Passing the Registration Examination for Dietitians, a national examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR).
- Completion of continuing professional education requirements to maintain the RD/RDN credential.
- State Licensure is required for many RDNs. Students should check on the individual licensure requirements of the organization they work for and the state in which they reside.