Certified Nutritionist vs. Registered Dietitian: Comparing Roles

Editor’s Observe: This submit was revealed in November 2019 and has not too long ago been up to date and revised for accuracy and comprehensiveness. 

Though nutrition-related profession titles might sound comparable, they are often very totally different relating 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 take a look at licensed nutritionist vs. registered dietitian.

What’s a Registered Dietitian? 

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

Both method, the function requires a bachelor’s diploma from a university or college, with coursework that typically includes meals and diet sciences, foodservice methods administration, enterprise, economics, pc 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 neighborhood company. 

In spite of everything necessities are met for licensure, quite a lot of job alternatives change into obtainable. These might embody explaining diet to particular person shoppers or teams, creating meal plans, selling diet by public talking, and placing collectively neighborhood outreach packages. Some RDs and RDNs select to pursue extra schooling with the intention to change into 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 schooling, or senior diet. 

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

What’s a Licensed Nutritionist? 

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

This function requires completion of a nutrition certification program or collection of certification packages, normally with the prerequisite of getting a highschool diploma, GED, or worldwide equal. This could usually be completed in six months or much less. In this kind of program, you’ll examine subjects just like the ideas of vitality steadiness, macro and micro vitamins, the connection between diet 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, quite a lot of job alternatives change into obtainable— from being self-employed as a nutritional and wellness 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 neighborhood packages. 

This certification permits you to give educated dietary steering that may embody creating dietary plans for particular person shoppers, creating workshops that may be introduced at colleges or corporations, and offering help to teams with particular objectives like weight loss or illness administration.  

Typically, 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 private alternative. 

Methods to Grow to be a Dietitian: Are There Programs On-line?  

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

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

It is necessary to notice that the particular necessities for turning into a dietitian might 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 might 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 change into a registered dietitian. 

Licensed Diet Specialist: On-line Diet Programs 

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

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

You’ll be able to take a look at all of AFPA’s programs here. 


Dietitian vs. Licensed Nutritionist: Diploma and Careers Comparability 

Dietitians and authorized 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 schooling, coaching, and profession paths. Here’s a comparability of dietitians and authorized nutritionists: 

Training and Coaching: 

  • Dietitians usually maintain a bachelor’s diploma in dietetics, diet, or a associated area, and should full an accredited dietetics program, a supervised follow program, and go a nationwide registration examination with the intention to change into a registered dietitian. 
  • Licensed nutritionists would possibly 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 Apply: 

  • Dietitians are educated 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 advanced medical circumstances. 
  • Licensed nutritionists might present diet counseling and schooling to shoppers, however their scope of follow is extra restricted than that of a registered dietitian. 

Profession Alternatives: 

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

In abstract, whereas each dietitians and authorized nutritionists work within the area of diet and wellness, dietitians usually have extra in depth 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? 

An authorized nutritionist is a healthcare skilled who specializes within the examine of diet, weight-reduction 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 extra teaching companies. Coaches work with people or teams to assist them make higher meals decisions, develop wholesome consuming habits, and obtain particular well being objectives. 

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 weight-reduction plan and life-style to find out their dietary wants and determine any areas the place they could be missing necessary vitamins. Observe that diet coaches and authorized nutritionists can’t diagnose or deal with circumstances, and in lots of states, they can’t advocate dietary supplements or medical dietary therapy of circumstances.  
  • Offering diet schooling and training: Nutritionists educate people concerning the function of varied vitamins within the physique, how you can learn meals labels, and how you can make wholesome decisions when eating out. They will additionally use conduct change strategies to help shoppers in adopting a wholesome relationship with meals.  
  • Analysis: Nutritionists may additionally conduct analysis to raised 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 usually work as a part of a healthcare workforce, 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 circumstances, 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 which means relying on the state or nation wherein the person is practising. Nevertheless, 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 usually 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 usually used to check with people who’ve accomplished a certification program in diet. Certification packages differ of their necessities however usually contain finishing a sure variety of nutrition-related programs and passing an examination. Certification is mostly not required with the intention to follow as a nutritionist however is usually a method for people to display their data and experience within the area. 


It is necessary to notice that the phrases “licensed nutritionist” and “licensed nutritionist” aren’t standardized and could also be used otherwise relying on the particular state or nation wherein the person is practising. It is at all times a good suggestion to analysis the particular {qualifications} and credentials of a nutritionist earlier than looking 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 educated within the examine of diet and might present diet counseling to people or teams. Nevertheless, there are just a few 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 diet remedy: Dietitians are educated to offer medical diet remedy, which entails creating and implementing customized diet plans for people with particular medical circumstances. This may increasingly embody creating specialised diets for people with circumstances comparable to diabetes, coronary heart illness, or kidney illness, in addition to offering diet help for people receiving medical remedies comparable to chemotherapy. 
  • Work in scientific settings: Dietitians are sometimes employed in scientific settings comparable to hospitals, nursing properties, and long-term care amenities, the place they work as a part of a healthcare workforce to offer diet take care of sufferers. 
  • Supervise meals service operations: Dietitians may go in foodservice settings comparable to colleges, hospitals, and eating places, the place they could be chargeable for creating 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 with the intention to follow. This usually entails finishing particular academic and coaching necessities, passing an examination, and assembly ongoing persevering with schooling necessities. 

It is price noting that the final time period “nutritionist” isn’t a legally protected time period in lots of states, which signifies that there aren’t any particular academic or coaching necessities for people who use this title. In consequence, the {qualifications} and scope of follow of nutritionists might differ broadly, and it is necessary for people looking for diet counseling to fastidiously 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 circumstances comparable to diabetes, coronary heart illness, and different power ailments. The job outlook for dietitians is optimistic, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projecting an 8% job development fee 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 may 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 gives excessive potential for development.  

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

The kinds of jobs chances are you’ll be eligible for after finishing a web-based diet certification can differ relying on the particular certification and your earlier schooling and expertise. 

Finishing a web-based diet certification might enable you to acquire data and abilities associated to diet and wellness, but it surely will not be adequate to qualify you for sure jobs within the diet area.  

That being stated, some jobs chances are you’ll be eligible for after finishing a web-based diet certification embody: 

  • Well being coach: As a well being coach, chances are you’ll present steering and help to shoppers to assist them obtain their well being objectives. This may increasingly embody providing recommendation on diet, train, and life-style habits. 
  • Diet educator: On this function, chances are you’ll train others concerning the significance of diet and how you can make wholesome meals decisions. You could work in quite a lot of settings, together with colleges, neighborhood facilities, and healthcare amenities. 
  • Wellness advisor: As a wellness advisor, chances are you’ll present recommendation and proposals to people or organizations on how you can enhance their total well being and wellbeing. This may increasingly embody providing steering on diet, stress administration, and train. 

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

Essential Takeaways 

On this article, we mentioned the schooling and coaching required to change into a dietitian and authorized 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 kinds of jobs which may be obtainable after finishing a web-based diet certification. 

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


  1. https://www.cdrnet.org/  
  1. https://www.eatright.org/become-an-rdn-or-ndtr  
  1. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/  

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