Licensed Nutritionist vs. Registered Dietitian: Evaluating Roles


Editor’s Observe: This publish was printed in November 2019 and has just lately been up to date and revised for accuracy and comprehensiveness. 

Though nutrition-related profession titles might sound related, they are often very totally different with regards to academic necessities, job duties, and typical workplaces. 

The 2 commonest designations within the area are licensed nutritionist and registered dietician. There are some apparent factors of overlap, comparable to offering recommendation on meals and diet, however in different methods, every is a definite profession path. Let’s have a look at licensed nutritionist vs. registered dietitian.

What’s a Registered Dietitian? 

A registered dietitian (RD) is similar as a more moderen designation known as a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN). The Academy of Diet and Dietetics’ Board of Administrators created the newer title as a technique to additional improve alternatives for RDNs. 

Both method, the function requires a bachelor’s diploma from a university or college, with coursework that sometimes consists of meals and diet sciences, foodservice methods administration, enterprise, economics, laptop science, sociology, biochemistry, physiology, microbiology, and chemistry. RDs and RDNs should additionally full an accredited, supervised follow program at a well being care facility, foodservice company, or group company. 

In any case necessities are met for licensure, numerous job alternatives grow to be out there. These might embody explaining diet to particular person shoppers or teams, growing meal plans, selling diet by public talking, and placing collectively group outreach applications. Some RDs and RDNs select to pursue further training in an effort to grow to be researchers or professors. 

As they proceed within the career, some RDs and RDNs pursue certifications in specialised areas of follow, comparable to pediatric diet, diabetes training, or senior diet. 

Regardless of which path they observe, RDs and RDNs should renew their credentials each 5 years and apply for certification based mostly on their state’s legal guidelines. 

What’s a Licensed Nutritionist? 

Those that merely wish to present dietary counseling might wish to take into account the choice of changing into a Licensed Nutritionist, also referred to as a Licensed Diet Marketing consultant. 

This function requires completion of a diet certification program or sequence of certification applications, normally with the prerequisite of getting a highschool diploma, GED, or worldwide equal. This may typically be performed in six months or much less. In any such program, you’ll examine subjects just like the rules of power steadiness, macro and micro vitamins, the connection between diet and bodily health, using analysis in creating dietary plans, and the identification of behaviors which will have an effect on particular person shoppers. 

After the coursework is full, numerous job alternatives grow to be out there— from being self-employed as a dietary and wellness marketing consultant to working for meals complement distributors, company wellness facilities, weight reduction facilities, well being meals and diet retail shops, well being and wellness publications, colleges, or group applications. 

This certification lets you give educated dietary steerage that may embody growing dietary plans for particular person shoppers, creating workshops that may be offered at colleges or firms, and offering help to teams with particular targets like weight reduction or illness administration.  

Usually, each the licensed nutritionist and the registered dietician help folks with their diet and wellness wants. However the paths to get to these roles differ, and which one to take is a matter of non-public alternative. 

Methods to Change into a Dietitian: Are There Programs On-line?  

The coaching wanted to grow to be a registered dietitian within the US is as follows:  

  • Full a bachelor’s diploma in diet or a associated area from an accredited faculty or college. 
  • Full an accredited dietetics program, which incorporates coursework in meals and diet sciences, medical diet remedy, foodservice methods administration, and group diet. 
  • Full a supervised follow program, which features a minimal of 1200 hours of supervised follow in areas comparable to scientific diet, group diet, and foodservice administration. 
  • Move the nationwide registration examination for dietitians administered by the Fee on Dietetic Registration (CDR). 
  • Get hold of any state-specific licenses or certifications required to follow as a dietitian within the state the place you intend to work. 

It’s essential to notice that the precise necessities for changing into a dietitian might differ relying on the state the place you intend to follow, so it’s a good suggestion to analysis the necessities earlier than starting your training and coaching. Moreover, it might be useful to hunt steerage from an expert group for dietitians, such because the Academy of Diet and Dietetics, to make sure that you’re following the suitable steps to grow to be a registered dietitian. 

Licensed Diet Specialist: On-line Diet Programs 

 AFPA has quite a few diet certifications for numerous areas of specialty, which might all be accomplished on-line and in your individual time.  

One among our hottest programs is the Holistic Nutritionist Certification. This course incorporates details about the whole lot from meals and diet science to teaching methodologies. AFPA additionally gives the next certifications:  

You may take a look at all of AFPA’s programs right here. 

Dietitian vs. Licensed Nutritionist: Diploma and Careers Comparability 

Dietitians and licensed nutritionists are each professionals who work within the area of diet and wellness, however there are some key variations between the 2 by way of training, coaching, and profession paths. Here’s a comparability of dietitians and licensed nutritionists: 

Training and Coaching: 

  • Dietitians sometimes maintain a bachelor’s diploma in dietetics, diet, or a associated area, and should full an accredited dietetics program, a supervised follow program, and move a nationwide registration examination in an effort to grow to be a registered dietitian. 
  • Licensed nutritionists may maintain a bachelor’s diploma in diet, dietetics, or a associated area, however certification necessities differ by state. Some states might require certification by a state licensing board or different group, whereas others might not require certification in any respect. 

Scope of Follow: 

  • Dietitians are skilled to work in quite a lot of settings, together with hospitals, clinics, colleges, and long-term care amenities, and are certified to offer medical diet remedy to sufferers with complicated medical situations. 
  • Licensed nutritionists might present diet counseling and training to shoppers, however their scope of follow is extra restricted than that of a registered dietitian. 

Profession Alternatives: 

  • Dietitians may match in quite a lot of roles, together with working as scientific dietitians, meals service managers, group nutritionists, and analysis dietitians. 
  • Licensed nutritionists may match as diet consultants, wellness coaches, or diet educators, amongst different roles. 

In abstract, whereas each dietitians and licensed nutritionists work within the area of diet and wellness, dietitians sometimes have extra intensive training and coaching and a broader scope of follow. Then again, licensed nutritionists have ample alternative to both begin a enterprise or work for a variety of well being and wellness organizations.  

What Does a Licensed Nutritionist Do? 

A licensed nutritionist is a healthcare skilled who specializes within the examine of diet, weight-reduction plan, and the connection between meals and well being. Some applications embody utilized well being habits change principle so as to have the ability to present further teaching companies. Coaches work with people or teams to assist them make higher meals selections, develop wholesome consuming habits, and obtain particular well being targets. 

Listed here are a number of the particular duties {that a} nutritionist may carry out: 

  • Assessing dietary wants: A nutritionist may conduct an in depth evaluation of a person’s weight-reduction plan and life-style to find out their dietary wants and determine any areas the place they could be missing essential vitamins. Observe that diet coaches and licensed nutritionists can not diagnose or deal with situations, and in lots of states, they can not suggest dietary supplements or medical dietary remedy of situations.  
  • Offering diet training and training: Nutritionists educate people concerning the function of assorted vitamins within the physique, how you can learn meals labels, and how you can make wholesome selections when eating out. They’ll additionally use habits change strategies to help shoppers in adopting a wholesome relationship with meals.  
  • Analysis: Nutritionists may additionally conduct analysis to higher perceive the connection between weight-reduction plan and well being, and to develop new approaches to enhancing diet and well being outcomes. 
  • Collaborating with different healthcare professionals: Nutritionists typically work as a part of a healthcare crew, collaborating with physicians, nurses, and different healthcare professionals to offer complete care to sufferers. 

The precise duties {that a} nutritionist performs might differ relying on their space of specialization and the kind of shoppers they work with. Some nutritionists work with people with particular well being situations, comparable to diabetes or coronary heart illness, whereas others might give attention to working with athletes to optimize their efficiency by diet. 

What’s the Distinction Between a Licensed Nutritionist and a Licensed Nutritionist? 

The phrases “licensed nutritionist” and “licensed nutritionist” can differ in that means relying on the state or nation wherein the person is training. Nonetheless, usually, listed below are the important thing variations between the 2: 


In some states, the time period “licensed nutritionist” is used to check with a person who has met particular academic and coaching necessities and is licensed to follow diet. Licensing necessities differ by state however sometimes contain finishing a level in diet or a associated area, finishing a sure variety of supervised follow hours, and passing an examination. In these states, solely licensed nutritionists are legally allowed to offer diet counseling companies. 


“Licensed nutritionist” is a time period that’s typically used to check with people who’ve accomplished a certification program in diet. Certification applications differ of their necessities however typically contain finishing a sure variety of nutrition-related programs and passing an examination. Certification is usually not required in an effort to follow as a nutritionist however generally is a method for people to exhibit their information and experience within the area. 


It’s essential to notice that the phrases “licensed nutritionist” and “licensed nutritionist” aren’t standardized and could also be used in another way relying on the precise state or nation wherein the person is training. It’s at all times a good suggestion to analysis the precise {qualifications} and credentials of a nutritionist earlier than searching for their companies. 

What Can a Dietitian Do {That a} Nutritionist Can’t? 

Dietitians and nutritionists share many similarities of their work, as each are skilled within the examine of diet and may present diet counseling to people or teams. Nonetheless, there are a couple of key variations between the 2 professions by way of their coaching, scope of follow, and authorized necessities. Right here are some things {that a} dietitian can do {that a} nutritionist can not: 

  • Present medical diet remedy: Dietitians are skilled to offer medical diet remedy, which entails growing and implementing customized diet plans for people with particular medical situations. This may occasionally embody growing specialised diets for people with situations comparable to diabetes, coronary heart illness, or kidney illness, in addition to offering diet help for people receiving medical therapies comparable to chemotherapy. 
  • Work in scientific settings: Dietitians are sometimes employed in scientific settings comparable to hospitals, nursing houses, and long-term care amenities, the place they work as a part of a healthcare crew to offer diet look after sufferers. 
  • Supervise meals service operations: Dietitians may match in foodservice settings comparable to colleges, hospitals, and eating places, the place they could be answerable for growing menus, overseeing meals preparation, and making certain that meals is ready in accordance with diet and security requirements. 
  • Might require licensure: In lots of states, dietitians are required to be licensed in an effort to follow. This sometimes entails finishing particular academic and coaching necessities, passing an examination, and assembly ongoing persevering with training necessities. 

It’s price noting that the overall time period “nutritionist” is just not a legally protected time period in lots of states, which implies that there aren’t any particular academic or coaching necessities for people who use this title. Consequently, the {qualifications} and scope of follow of nutritionists might differ broadly, and it’s essential for people searching for diet counseling to rigorously consider the credentials and {qualifications} of the person they’re working with. 

Dietitian vs. Licensed Nutritionist Profession and Wage Outlook 

Dietitians and nutritionists each work within the area of diet, however their job duties, academic necessities, and salaries can differ. 

Dietitians work in quite a lot of settings, together with hospitals, clinics, colleges, authorities companies, and personal practices. They supply medical diet remedy to handle and forestall situations comparable to diabetes, coronary heart illness, and different persistent illnesses. The job outlook for dietitians is constructive, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projecting an 8% job progress charge for the career from 2020 to 2030. The median annual wage for dietitians within the US was $63,090 as of Might 2020. 

Licensed nutritionists also can work in quite a lot of settings, together with hospitals, colleges, and personal practices, and so they might present diet recommendation and counseling to shoppers. Sadly, the BLS doesn’t differentiate the wage of licensed nutritionists from that of licensed nutritionists or dietitians. It’s protected to say, nonetheless, that the wage for licensed nutritionists or coaches can differ considerably inside the area. It’s because many licensed nutritionists work in a non-public follow which offers excessive potential for progress.  

What Jobs Am I Eligible for After Finishing an On-line Diet Certification?  

The sorts of jobs you might be eligible for after finishing an internet diet certification can differ relying on the precise certification and your earlier training and expertise. 

Finishing an internet diet certification might enable you acquire information and abilities associated to diet and wellness, but it surely will not be enough to qualify you for sure jobs within the diet area.  

That being mentioned, some jobs you might be eligible for after finishing an internet diet certification embody: 

  • Well being coach: As a well being coach, you might present steerage and help to shoppers to assist them obtain their well being targets. This may occasionally embody providing recommendation on diet, train, and life-style habits. 
  • Diet educator: On this function, you might educate others concerning the significance of diet and how you can make wholesome meals selections. You could work in quite a lot of settings, together with colleges, group facilities, and healthcare amenities. 
  • Wellness marketing consultant: As a wellness marketing consultant, you might present recommendation and suggestions to people or organizations on how you can enhance their total well being and wellbeing. This may occasionally embody providing steerage on diet, stress administration, and train. 

It’s essential to notice that the job alternatives out there to you might rely in your particular certification, degree of training, and expertise.  

Important Takeaways 

On this article, we mentioned the training and coaching required to grow to be a dietitian and licensed nutritionist, in addition to the distinction between a registered dietitian, a licensed nutritionist, and an authorized nutritionist. 

We additionally mentioned the job outlook and median salaries for dietitians and nutritionists, in addition to the sorts of jobs that could be out there after finishing an internet diet certification. 

We encourage you to discover the opportunity of acquiring your diet certification with AFPA, the place you have got the potential to catapult your skilled profession ahead whereas supporting others’ well being.