Licensed Nutritionist vs. Registered Dietitian: Evaluating Roles


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

Though nutrition-related profession titles could sound related, they are often very totally different relating to instructional necessities, job duties, and typical workplaces. 

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

What’s a Registered Dietitian? 

A registered dietitian (RD) is identical 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 usually contains meals and vitamin sciences, foodservice programs 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, a lot of job alternatives turn into obtainable. These could embody explaining vitamin to particular person shoppers or teams, creating meal plans, selling vitamin by means of public talking, and placing collectively group outreach packages. Some RDs and RDNs select to pursue further schooling in an effort to turn into researchers or professors. 

As they proceed within the occupation, some RDs and RDNs pursue certifications in specialised areas of follow, corresponding to pediatric vitamin, diabetes schooling, or senior vitamin. 

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 could wish to think about the choice of turning into a Licensed Nutritionist, also referred to as a Licensed Diet Guide. 

This function requires completion of a vitamin certification program or sequence of certification packages, often with the prerequisite of getting a highschool diploma, GED, or worldwide equal. This will typically be executed in six months or much less. In this sort of program, you’ll examine subjects just like the rules of vitality stability, macro and micro vitamins, the connection between vitamin and bodily health, the usage of analysis in creating dietary plans, and the identification of behaviors which will have an effect on particular person shoppers. 

After the coursework is full, a lot of job alternatives turn into obtainable— 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 vitamin retail shops, well being and wellness publications, colleges, or group packages. 

This certification means that you can give educated dietary steering which may embody creating dietary plans for particular person shoppers, creating workshops that may be introduced at colleges or firms, and offering assist to teams with particular targets like weight reduction or illness administration.  

Usually, each the licensed nutritionist and the registered dietician help individuals with their vitamin and wellness wants. However the paths to get to these roles differ, and which one to take is a matter of private alternative. 

How one can Turn out to be a Dietitian: Are There Programs On-line?  

The coaching wanted to turn into a registered dietitian within the US is as follows:  

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

It is essential to notice that the precise necessities for turning into a dietitian could differ relying on the state the place you propose to follow, so it is a good suggestion to analysis the necessities earlier than starting your schooling and coaching. Moreover, it could be useful to hunt steering from knowledgeable group for dietitians, such because the Academy of Diet and Dietetics, to make sure that you’re following the suitable steps to turn into a registered dietitian. 

Licensed Diet Specialist: On-line Diet Programs 

 AFPA has quite a few vitamin certifications for varied 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 comprises details about every part from meals and vitamin science to teaching methodologies. AFPA additionally presents the next certifications:  

You may try 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 discipline of vitamin and wellness, however there are some key variations between the 2 by way of schooling, coaching, and profession paths. Here’s a comparability of dietitians and licensed nutritionists: 

Schooling and Coaching: 

  • Dietitians usually maintain a bachelor’s diploma in dietetics, vitamin, or a associated discipline, and should full an accredited dietetics program, a supervised follow program, and go a nationwide registration examination in an effort to turn into a registered dietitian. 
  • Licensed nutritionists would possibly maintain a bachelor’s diploma in vitamin, dietetics, or a associated discipline, however certification necessities differ by state. Some states could require certification by means of a state licensing board or different group, whereas others could not require certification in any respect. 

Scope of Apply: 

  • 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 supply medical vitamin remedy to sufferers with advanced medical situations. 
  • Licensed nutritionists could present vitamin counseling and schooling 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 vitamin consultants, wellness coaches, or vitamin educators, amongst different roles. 

In abstract, whereas each dietitians and licensed nutritionists work within the discipline of vitamin and wellness, dietitians usually have extra intensive schooling and coaching and a broader scope of follow. However, 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 vitamin, food plan, and the connection between meals and well being. Some packages embody utilized well being conduct change idea 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 below are a few of the particular duties {that a} nutritionist would possibly carry out: 

  • Assessing dietary wants: A nutritionist would possibly conduct an in depth evaluation of a person’s food plan and life-style to find out their dietary wants and establish any areas the place they could be missing essential vitamins. Word that vitamin coaches and licensed nutritionists can’t diagnose or deal with situations, and in lots of states, they can not advocate dietary supplements or medical dietary remedy of situations.  
  • Offering vitamin schooling and training: Nutritionists educate people concerning the function of assorted vitamins within the physique, easy methods to learn meals labels, and easy methods to make wholesome selections when eating out. They’ll additionally use conduct change strategies to assist shoppers in adopting a wholesome relationship with meals.  
  • Analysis: Nutritionists might also conduct analysis to raised perceive the connection between food plan and well being, and to develop new approaches to enhancing vitamin and well being outcomes. 
  • Collaborating with different healthcare professionals: Nutritionists typically work as a part of a healthcare group, collaborating with physicians, nurses, and different healthcare professionals to supply complete care to sufferers. 

The particular duties {that a} nutritionist performs could 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, corresponding to diabetes or coronary heart illness, whereas others could deal with working with athletes to optimize their efficiency by means of vitamin. 

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

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


In some states, the time period “licensed nutritionist” is used to seek advice from a person who has met particular instructional and coaching necessities and is licensed to follow vitamin. Licensing necessities differ by state however usually contain finishing a level in vitamin or a associated discipline, finishing a sure variety of supervised follow hours, and passing an examination. In these states, solely licensed nutritionists are legally allowed to supply vitamin counseling companies. 


“Licensed nutritionist” is a time period that’s typically used to seek advice from people who’ve accomplished a certification program in vitamin. Certification packages 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 display their data and experience within the discipline. 


It is essential to notice that the phrases “licensed nutritionist” and “licensed nutritionist” usually are not standardized and could also be used in a different way relying on the precise state or nation during which the person is training. It is all the time a good suggestion to analysis the precise {qualifications} and credentials of a nutritionist earlier than looking for their companies. 

What Can a Dietitian Do {That a} Nutritionist Can not? 

Dietitians and nutritionists share many similarities of their work, as each are skilled within the examine of vitamin and may present vitamin counseling to people or teams. Nonetheless, there are a number 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’t: 

  • Present medical vitamin remedy: Dietitians are skilled to supply medical vitamin remedy, which includes creating and implementing personalised vitamin plans for people with particular medical situations. This will likely embody creating specialised diets for people with situations corresponding to diabetes, coronary heart illness, or kidney illness, in addition to offering vitamin assist for people receiving medical remedies corresponding to chemotherapy. 
  • Work in scientific settings: Dietitians are sometimes employed in scientific settings corresponding to hospitals, nursing properties, and long-term care amenities, the place they work as a part of a healthcare group to supply vitamin take care of sufferers. 
  • Supervise meals service operations: Dietitians may match in foodservice settings corresponding to colleges, hospitals, and eating places, the place they could be answerable for creating menus, overseeing meals preparation, and making certain that meals is ready in accordance with vitamin and security requirements. 
  • Could require licensure: In lots of states, dietitians are required to be licensed in an effort to follow. This usually includes finishing particular instructional and coaching necessities, passing an examination, and assembly ongoing persevering with schooling necessities. 

It is value noting that the overall time period “nutritionist” is just not a legally protected time period in lots of states, which signifies that there aren’t any particular instructional or coaching necessities for people who use this title. Consequently, the {qualifications} and scope of follow of nutritionists could differ extensively, and it is essential for people looking for vitamin 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 discipline of vitamin, however their job duties, instructional necessities, and salaries can differ. 

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

Licensed nutritionists also can work in quite a lot of settings, together with hospitals, colleges, and personal practices, they usually could present vitamin 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 secure to say, nevertheless, that the wage for licensed nutritionists or coaches can differ considerably throughout the discipline. 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 chances are you’ll be eligible for after finishing an internet vitamin certification can differ relying on the precise certification and your earlier schooling and expertise. 

Finishing an internet vitamin certification could provide help to achieve data and expertise associated to vitamin and wellness, but it surely might not be ample to qualify you for sure jobs within the vitamin discipline.  

That being mentioned, some jobs chances are you’ll be eligible for after finishing an internet vitamin certification embody: 

  • Well being coach: As a well being coach, chances are you’ll present steering and assist to shoppers to assist them obtain their well being targets. This will likely embody providing recommendation on vitamin, train, and life-style habits. 
  • Diet educator: On this function, chances are you’ll train others concerning the significance of vitamin and easy methods to make wholesome meals selections. Chances are you’ll work in quite a lot of settings, together with colleges, group facilities, and healthcare amenities. 
  • Wellness marketing consultant: As a wellness marketing consultant, chances are you’ll present recommendation and suggestions to people or organizations on easy methods to enhance their total well being and wellbeing. This will likely embody providing steering on vitamin, stress administration, and train. 

It is essential to notice that the job alternatives obtainable to chances are you’ll rely in your particular certification, degree of schooling, and expertise.  

Foremost Takeaways 

On this article, we mentioned the schooling and coaching required to turn into a dietitian and licensed nutritionist, in addition to the distinction between a registered dietitian, a licensed nutritionist, and a licensed nutritionist. 

We additionally mentioned the job outlook and median salaries for dietitians and nutritionists, in addition to the sorts of jobs which may be obtainable after finishing an internet vitamin certification. 

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



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