How to Become a Dietitian
1. Earn a Bachelor's Degree (4 Years)
A four-year college degree with a major in dietetics is required to become a registered dietitian (RD). There are two types of programs available:
- A didactic program involves classroom instruction during college, followed by a field internship for one-year
- A coordinated program in dietetics requires both classroom instruction and 900 hours of supervised practice.
Before enrolling, ensure that the program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND).
The preparation timeline below provides an example curriculum:
|Grade Level||Example Courses|
2. Complete an ACEND-Accredited Supervised Practice Program (6 - 12 Months)
ACEND offers two pathways to the completion of 1200 supervised practice hours:
- Accredited Dietetic Internship - Completed separate from a bachelor's degree
- Accredited Coordinated Program - Completed alongside a bachelor's degree
These options allow candidates some measure of flexibility when seeking to become a registered dietitian.
For more information, check out the Registration Eligibility Requirements for Dietitians.
3. Take the Registration Examination for Dietitians
Upon graduation, successful completion of the Registration Examination for Dietitians is required to become a registered dietitian. Candidates may not register individually.
Upon completion of a supervised practice program, the director will submit the eligible candidates to CDR for registration.CDR does not allow individuals to contact directly.
The exam is broken down in the following sections:
|% of Exam|
Food & Nutrition
Food Science & Nutrition Composition of Foods
Nutrition & Supporting Sciences
Nutrition Care Process & Model - Simple & Complex Conditions
Nutrition Screening & Assessment
Medical Monitoring & Evaluation
Counseling, Communication, Education & Research
Assessment & Planning
Implementation & Evaluation
Procurement, Production, Distribution, & Service
Sanitation & Safety
Finance & Materials
Marketing Products & Services
Functions & Characteristics
Specialized areas of practice, such as renal nutrition or pediatric dietetics, nutritional support and diabetes education can be obtained with additional certification.
This type of certification is awarded through CDR, the agency for credentialing through the ADA. Certification is also available through other medical or nutritional organizations.
These specialized certifications are recognized within the professional community but are not required for entry into or maintenance of registration.