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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

 

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

Registered dietitian nutritionist or RDN 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. 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 dietitian nutritionist and dietetic technicians, registered?

Check out information on career opportunities, salaries and job outlook for registered dietitian nutritionist and dietetic technicians, registered from this Web site.

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

To become a registered dietitian nutritionist you would need to:

  • Enroll in an ACEND®-accredited Coordinated Program in Dietetics. 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 RDNs, registered dietitian nutritionist.
    Or:
  • Enroll in an ACEND®-accredited Didactic Program in Dietetics academic program. This is a program, granting at least a bachelor's degree, that is accredited 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 or Individualized Supervised Practice Pathway (ISPP). You will then be eligible to take the Registration Examination for Dietitians to become credentialed as a RDN, registered dietitian nutritionist.

The lists of ACEND®-accredited 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.
    Or:
  • Complete an ACEND®-accredited Didactic Program in Dietetics.

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 of Nutrition and Dietetics 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 dietitian nutritionist 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 nutritionist, 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®. The program director can provide you with information on what would be required for you to complete the needed requirements. 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 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.

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

Several programs offer the option to complete program requirements via distance education.

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?

Individuals 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 agreements. 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.

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/April 2015