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a Publication for members of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

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Frequently Asked Questions about Careers in Dietetics

 

You have the option of scrolling through the whole document or clicking on the individual questions for information you are seeking.

1. What is the difference between a registered dietitian or dietetic technician, registered, and a nutritionist?

2. What career opportunities are available for registered dietitians and dietetic technicians, registered?

3. What do I need to do to become a registered dietitian?

4. What do I need to do to become a dietetic technician, registered?

5. Is there a ranking of dietetics education programs by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics or the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND)?

6. If ACEND doesn't rank programs, what factors should I consider when deciding on a school?

7. Will getting my master's degree in nutrition meet the requirements to become a registered dietitian?

8. I have a bachelor's degree in another field and would now like to be a dietitian; do I need to start all over?

9. Is there a list of courses I need to take?

10. Is the Dietetic Technician Program a stepping-stone to the programs to become a RD

11. There is not a dietetics education program convenient to my home. Can I complete the requirements by distance education?

12. I received my nutrition degree in another country, am I eligible to become registered in the United States?

13. I am a RD and would like to complete a graduate degree in dietetics. What programs are available in my area?



1. What is the difference between a registered dietitian or dietetic technician, registered, and a nutritionist?

Registered dietitian or RD and dietetic technician, registered or DTR can only be used by dietetics practitioners who are currently authorized to use the credential by the Commission on Dietetic Registration of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. These are legally protected titles. Individuals with these credentials have completed specific academic and supervised practice requirements, successfully completed a registration examination and maintained requirements for recertification.

 

Some RDs or DTRs call themselves nutritionists. However, the definition and requirements for the term "nutritionist" vary. Some states have licensure laws that define the scope of practice for someone using the designation nutritionist.

2. What career opportunities are available for registered dietitians and dietetic technicians, registered?
Check out information on career opportunities, salaries and job outlook for registered dietitians and dietetic technicians, registered from this Web site.

3. What do I need to do to become a registered dietitian?
To become a registered dietitian you would need to:

  • Enroll in a Coordinated Program. This may be a bachelor or master's degree program that combines classroom and supervised practical experience and is accredited by ACEND. Graduates are then eligible to take the Registration Examination for Dietitians to become credentialed as RDs, registered dietitians.
    Or:
  • Enroll in a Didactic Program in Dietetics academic program. This is a program, granting at least a bachelor's degree, that is accredited or approved by ACEND. After you receive your degree, you will then need to apply for and complete supervised practical experience in an ACEND-accredited Dietetic Internship Program. You will then be eligible to take the Registration Examination for Dietitians to become credentialed as a RD, registered dietitian.

The lists of ACEND-accredited CP, DPD and DI programs with contact information can be viewed at this website.

4. What do I need to do to become a dietetic technician, registered?
To become a DTR, you will need to:

  • Complete an associate degree and curriculum requirements of a Dietetic Technician Program accredited by ACEND. You will then be eligible to take the Registration Examination for Dietetic Technicians to become credentialed as a DTR, dietitian technician, registered.

A list of ACEND-accredited dietetic technician programs with contact information is included in the education programs list on this website.

5. Is there a ranking of dietetics education programs by the Academy or ACEND?
ACEND and the Academy do not rate or rank programs.  All ACEND-accredited programs meet the Accreditation Standards, which signifies that the programs provide the knowledge, skills and competencies you need to enter the dietetics profession. These accredited programs meet the requirements for membership in the Academy and registration by Commission on Dietetic Registration.

6. If ACEND doesn't rank programs, what factors should I consider when deciding on a school?
This decision is a very personal one that should be made based on a variety of factors that are important to you, such as:

  • Size of school and program: Would you be more comfortable in a small private school or a large state (public) university?
  • Cost: Can you afford a private school or is a state-supported school a better value for you?
  • Available financial aid: What resources are available to you?
  • Geographic location: Do you prefer a rural or urban setting, residential or commuter school?
  • Faculty composition and qualifications: Have you visited the website or campus and talked with faculty?
  • Degree awarded: are you interested in a bachelor's or master's degree?
  • Success of graduates in obtaining internship placement and jobs: How well do graduates do after completing the program?
  • Success of graduates in pursuing career goals: What are your career goals and do they match the goals of the program?

Talk with the program directors at the schools you are interested in attending, discuss the program and ask to visit. It is sometimes helpful to talk with current students and graduates or registered dietitians and dietetic technicians, registered located in the area near the program to acquire information that may be helpful in making a decision.

7. Will getting my master's degree in nutrition meet the requirements to become a registered dietitian?
Not unless the program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics. ACEND does not accredit graduate programs except for those designed to meet entry-level academic requirements. Often, one can work on fulfilling the requirements for becoming an RD and take graduate course work at the same time if there is an ACEND-accredited program and graduate school in the same university that work together. Contact the schools you are interested in attending. You will need to check with the Dietetics Program Director before starting graduate coursework if you choose this route. The lists of ACEND-accredited programs and a list of advanced degree programs can be viewed on this website.

8. I have a bachelor's degree in another field and would now like to be a dietitian; do I need to start all over?
If you already have a bachelor's degree that is not in dietetics and are interested in becoming a registered dietitian, you should have your college transcripts evaluated by a director of a Didactic Program in Dietetics or a Coordinated Program in Dietetics accredited by ACEND. Because the policies, procedures and costs for the transcript evaluation may vary from one institution to another, you may want to contact more than one dietetics program for further information.

A DPD or CP director will evaluate your previous academic preparation and identify the courses that you would need to complete at that school to meet the academic requirements. It may be possible to complete the required dietetics coursework while enrolled in a graduate program. The dietetics program director can advise you of your options. Once the required coursework is completed, you will receive a DPD Verification Statement, which enables you to apply to an ACEND-accredited Dietetic Internship. After completing the DI, you will receive a DI Verification Statement, which is necessary to write the registration examination for the RD.

9. Is there a list of courses I need to take?
There is no recommended list of courses. Each dietetics education program is accredited or approved based on how the entire curriculum meets the Accreditation Standards. Therefore, individuals must contact the academic program that they are interested in attending to obtain the specific requirements for that program. Program curricula may vary somewhat depending on how the content of courses is structured. The lists of ACEND-accredited programs with contact information can be viewed on this Web site.

10. Is the Dietetic Technician Program a stepping-stone to the programs to become a RD?
Individuals who complete an associate degree in an ACEND-accredited Dietetic Technician Program may be able to transfer academic credits to a Coordinated Program in Dietetics or Didactic Program in Dietetics. Some DT Programs have established articulation agreements that specify the coursework that will be accepted as transfer credit. For those DT Programs without formal agreements, it is necessary to confer with the DPD or CP Program Director to determine if the courses you have completed will be accepted as fulfilling curriculum requirements for becoming a RD.

Currently, there is one CP program for DTRs who want to become RDs. This CP is affiliated with the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. Other DT programs with articulation agreements can be found in the list of Dietetic Technician Programs.

11. There is not a dietetics education program convenient to my home. Can I complete the requirements by distance education?
Currently it is not possible to complete all the academic requirements for becoming a registered dietitian through distance education. Programs with one or more courses available by distance education are identified in each list (Coordinated Programs in Dietetics; Didactic Programs in Dietetics, Dietetic Internships). Because distance education is evolving you will need to contact the individual program to determine current information about coursework available by distance.

Currently, there are two programs that enable you complete the requirements for becoming a dietetic technician, registered by distance. They are affiliated with Pennsylvania State University and Central Arizona College.

The lists of ACEND-accredited programs and information about distance education can be viewed on this website.

12. I received my nutrition degree in another country, am I eligible to become registered in the United States?
The Commission on Dietetic Registration currently has registration eligibility reciprocity agreements with the following foreign dietetic associations and regulatory boards: Dietitians of Canada, Dutch Association of Dieticians and Ministry of Welfare, Public Health and Culture, the Philippine Professional Regulation Commission, the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute and the Dietitians Board of the Health Professions Council in the United Kingdom. Individuals who have met the qualifications established by these associations and regulatory boards should contact CDR directly at 312/899-0040, ext. 5500 or cdr@eatright.org to obtain information regarding establishing registration eligibility under the provision of CDR's reciprocity agreement with these associations and regulatory boards. It is important to note that all individuals who establish registration eligibility under the provision of a reciprocity agreement must successfully write the Registration Examination for Dietitians.

A fact sheet, International Inquires - RD and DTR has been developed to inform individuals, who do not qualify for reciprocity, of the educational requirements and process to become a registered dietitian or dietetic technician, registered with the CDR. Included are commonly asked questions from individuals who have been educated outside the United States and its territories.

13. I am a RD and would like to complete a graduate degree in dietetics. What programs are available in my area?
ACEND does not accredit graduate level programs in nutrition or dietetics unless they meet entry-level academic requirements. However, graduate programs beyond entry-level in nutrition and dietetics-related areas sponsored by U.S. regionally accredited colleges and universities, which have chosen to provide information can be viewed in the Advanced Degree Program section of the education program list.

 


Source: ACEND/January 2012