promoting optimal nutrition, health and well-being

What is a RDN?

Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDN) are food and nutrition experts who have met the following criteria to earn the RDN credential.

  • Completed a minimum of a bachelor's degree at an accredited university or college offering course work approved by the Commission on Accreditation/Approval for Dietetics Education of Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
  • Completed an accredited/approved supervised practice program at a healthcare facility, community agency, or a food service corporation or combined with undergraduate or graduate studies. 
  • Passed a national examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration. 
  • Completed continuing professional educational requirements to maintain registration.

Approximately 50 percent of RDNs hold advanced degrees. Some RDNs also hold additional certifications in specialized areas of practice, such as pediatric or renal nutrition, nutrition support and diabetes education.

Registered dietitian nutritionists who are members of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics are not only food and nutrition experts, they are leaders in the field of dietetics. Every one of the Academy's wide array of member benefits is designed to advance their knowledge and skills and enhance their networking opportunities.

What services do RDNs provide? The majority of registered dietitian nutritionists work in the treatment and prevention of disease (administering medical nutrition therapy, as part of medical teams), often in hospitals, HMOs, private practice or other health care facilities. In addition, a large number of registered dietitians work in community and public health settings and academia and research. A growing number of registered dietitian nutritionists work with food and nutrition industry and business, journalism, sports nutrition, corporate wellness programs and other non-traditional work settings

Licensed Dietitians (LD) The mandatory process, by which a governmental agency grants time-limited permission to an individual to engage in a given occupation after verifying that the individual has met predetermined, standardized criteria.

  • The goal of licensure is to ensure that licensees have the minimal degree of competency necessary to ensure that the public health, safety, and welfare are reasonably well protected.
  • To become licensed, a person usually must meet eligibility requirements (such as years of work experience) and pass an assessment (usually a multiple-choice test). The licensure assessment usually covers a broad area of knowledge and skills at the entry level. 
  • Licenses usually have ongoing requirements (such as continuing education or retesting and renewal fees) that need to be met to maintain the license. Licensure is typically granted at the state level. The federal government has no direct say in the regulation of occupations or professions, and states vary in terms of their requirements for registration, certification, and licensure. If a state has licensure for a given occupation, a person in that occupation must be licensed to work in that state. If a person works in multiple states, he must be licensed in each of those states. 
  • Although associations do not grant professional licensure, they often have a role in licensure activities. For example, they may advocate licensure to be instituted in states, and they may collaborate with the state agencies during the development and administration of licensing.

Advanced Practice Board Certifications

Advanced Practice Level Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (Advanced Practitioner). An advanced practitioner has acquired the expert knowledge base, complex decision-making skills and clinical competencies for expanded practice, the characteristics of which are shaped by the context in which he/she practices. Advanced practitioners may have expanded or specialty roles or both. Advanced practice may or may not include additional certification. Generally, the practice is more complex, and the practitioner has a higher degree of professional autonomy and responsibility

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetic Board Certified Specialist. Board Certified Specialists are registered dietitians (RDs) who have met empirically established criteria and who have successfully completed a specialty certification examination that simulates practice. Registered dietitians can be a board certified specialist in the following areas:

  • Pediatric Nutrition (CSP)
  • Renal Nutrition (CSR) 
  • Gerontological Nutrition (CSG) 
  • Sports Dietetics (CSSD) 
  • Oncology Nutrition (CSO)

Fellows of The American Dietetic Association (FADA) are registered dietitians with advanced education and experience, who have, throughout their careers, developed exceptional professional achievement and expertise. Fellows have successfully demonstrated the necessary requirements for certification through a peer-reviewed portfolio assessment. These individuals have attained the highest level of certification awarded by The Commission on Dietetic Registration and are awarded the FADA designation.

Dietetic Technician, Registered (DTR). The Commission on Dietetic Registration defines a Dietetic Technician, Registered (DTR) as an individual who has completed a minimum of an Associate degree granted by a U.S. regionally accredited college or university; completed a Dietetic Technician Program accredited/approved by The Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education (CADE) of The American Dietetic Association; successfully completed the Registration Examination for Dietetic Technicians; and accrued 50 hours of approved continuing professional education every five years. OR completed the minimum of a baccalaureate degree granted by a U.S. regionally accredited college or university, or foreign equivalent; met current academic requirements (Didactic Program in Dietetics) as accredited/approved by CADE; completed a supervised practice program under the auspices of a Dietetic Technician Program as accredited/approved by The Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education of the American Dietetic Association; successfully completed the Registration Examination for Dietetic Technicians; and accrued 50 hours of approved continuing professional education every five years.

Nutritionist. There is no accepted national definition for the title "nutritionist". All registered dietitians are nutritionists but not all nutritionists are registered dietitians. Some state licensure boards have enacted legislation that regulates use the title nutritionist and set specific qualifications for holding the title. For states that regulate this title the definition is variable from state to state. The "RDN" credential is a legally protected title that can only be used by practitioners who are authorized by the Commission on Dietetic Registration of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.