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Licensed Nutritionist vs. Registered Dietitian: Evaluating Roles

Editor’s Notice: This put up was revealed in November 2019 and has 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 instructional 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, resembling offering recommendation on meals and diet, however in different methods, every is a definite profession path. Let us 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 solution to additional improve alternatives for RDNs. 

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

In any case necessities are met for licensure, quite a few job alternatives grow to be accessible. These might embrace explaining diet to particular person purchasers or teams, creating meal plans, selling diet by public talking, and placing collectively group outreach packages. Some RDs and RDNs select to pursue extra training to be able to grow to be researchers or professors. 

As they proceed within the occupation, some RDs and RDNs pursue certifications in specialised areas of observe, resembling pediatric diet, diabetes training, or senior diet. 

Irrespective of which path they comply with, 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 contemplate the choice of turning into a Licensed Nutritionist, also referred to as a Licensed Diet Marketing consultant. 

This position requires completion of a diet certification program or collection of certification packages, often with the prerequisite of getting a highschool diploma, GED, or worldwide equal. This may usually be carried out in six months or much less. In this sort of program, you’ll research matters just like the ideas of vitality steadiness, macro and micro vitamins, the connection between diet and bodily health, using analysis in creating dietary plans, and the identification of behaviors that will have an effect on particular person purchasers. 

After the coursework is full, quite a few job alternatives grow to be accessible— 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 packages. 

This certification permits you to give educated dietary steering which may embrace creating dietary plans for particular person purchasers, creating workshops that may be introduced at colleges or corporations, and offering assist 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 selection. 

Tips on how to Turn out to be 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 techniques administration, and group diet. 
  • Full a supervised observe program, which features a minimal of 1200 hours of supervised observe in areas resembling scientific diet, group diet, and foodservice administration. 
  • Go the nationwide registration examination for dietitians administered by the Fee on Dietetic Registration (CDR). 
  • Receive any state-specific licenses or certifications required to observe as a dietitian within the state the place you intend to work. 

It is vital to notice that the precise necessities for turning into a dietitian might range relying on the state the place you intend to observe, so it is a good suggestion to analysis the necessities earlier than starting your training 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 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.  

Certainly one of our hottest programs is the Holistic Nutritionist Certification. This course accommodates details about every little thing from meals and diet science to teaching methodologies. AFPA additionally presents the next certifications:  

You possibly can take a look at all of AFPA’s programs right 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 when it comes to training, coaching, and profession paths. Here’s a comparability of dietitians and authorized 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 observe program, and cross a nationwide registration examination to be able to grow to be a registered dietitian. 
  • Licensed nutritionists would possibly maintain a bachelor’s diploma in diet, dietetics, or a associated area, however certification necessities range 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 Observe: 

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

Profession Alternatives: 

  • Dietitians may fit in a wide range of roles, together with working as scientific dietitians, meals service managers, group nutritionists, and analysis dietitians. 
  • Licensed nutritionists may fit 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 sometimes have extra intensive training and coaching and a broader scope of observe. 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 research of diet, weight loss program, and the connection between meals and well being. Some packages embrace utilized well being conduct change principle so as to have the ability to present extra 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 would possibly carry out: 

  • Assessing dietary wants: A nutritionist would possibly conduct an in depth evaluation of a person’s weight loss program and life-style to find out their dietary wants and determine any areas the place they could be missing vital vitamins. Notice that diet coaches and authorized nutritionists can not diagnose or deal with situations, and in lots of states, they can’t advocate dietary supplements or medical dietary therapy of situations.  
  • Offering diet training and training: Nutritionists educate people concerning the position of varied vitamins within the physique, how you can learn meals labels, and how you can make wholesome selections when eating out. They will additionally use conduct change strategies to assist purchasers in adopting a wholesome relationship with meals.  
  • Analysis: Nutritionists might also conduct analysis to higher perceive the connection between weight loss program and well being, and to develop new approaches to bettering diet and well being outcomes. 
  • Collaborating with different healthcare professionals: Nutritionists usually 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 might range relying on their space of specialization and the kind of purchasers they work with. Some nutritionists work with people with particular well being situations, resembling diabetes or coronary heart illness, whereas others might concentrate on 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 range in which means relying on the state or nation during which the person is practising. Nevertheless, normally, 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 instructional and coaching necessities and is licensed to observe diet. Licensing necessities range by state however sometimes contain finishing a level in diet or a associated area, finishing a sure variety of supervised observe hours, and passing an examination. In these states, solely licensed nutritionists are legally allowed to supply 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 range of their necessities however usually contain finishing a sure variety of nutrition-related programs and passing an examination. Certification is usually not required to be able to observe as a nutritionist however could be a means for people to display their data and experience within the area. 


It is vital to notice that the phrases “licensed nutritionist” and “licensed nutritionist” should not standardized and could also be used in another way relying on the precise state or nation during which the person is practising. It is all the time a good suggestion to analysis the precise {qualifications} and credentials of a nutritionist earlier than in search of 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 research of diet and may present diet counseling to people or teams. Nevertheless, there are a number of key variations between the 2 professions when it comes to their coaching, scope of observe, 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 supply medical diet remedy, which includes creating and implementing customized diet plans for people with particular medical situations. This will embrace creating specialised diets for people with situations resembling diabetes, coronary heart illness, or kidney illness, in addition to offering diet assist for people receiving medical therapies resembling chemotherapy. 
  • Work in scientific settings: Dietitians are sometimes employed in scientific settings resembling hospitals, nursing properties, and long-term care amenities, the place they work as a part of a healthcare group to supply diet take care of sufferers. 
  • Supervise meals service operations: Dietitians may fit in foodservice settings resembling colleges, hospitals, and eating places, the place they could be chargeable for creating menus, overseeing meals preparation, and guaranteeing that meals is ready in accordance with diet and security requirements. 
  • Could require licensure: In lots of states, dietitians are required to be licensed to be able to observe. This sometimes includes finishing particular instructional and coaching necessities, passing an examination, and assembly ongoing persevering with training necessities. 

It is value noting that the overall time period “nutritionist” shouldn’t be a legally protected time period in lots of states, which implies that there aren’t any particular instructional or coaching necessities for people who use this title. Consequently, the {qualifications} and scope of observe of nutritionists might range broadly, and it is vital for people in search of 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, instructional necessities, and salaries can differ. 

Dietitians work in a wide range of settings, together with hospitals, clinics, colleges, authorities businesses, and personal practices. They supply medical diet remedy to handle and stop situations resembling diabetes, coronary heart illness, and different persistent ailments. The job outlook for dietitians is constructive, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projecting an 8% job progress charge 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 may also work in a wide range of settings, together with hospitals, colleges, and personal practices, they usually might present diet recommendation and counseling to purchasers. 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 range considerably inside the area. It’s because many licensed nutritionists work in a non-public observe which offers excessive potential for progress.  

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

The varieties of jobs you could be eligible for after finishing a web based diet certification can range relying on the precise certification and your earlier training and expertise. 

Finishing a web based diet certification might provide help to acquire data and abilities associated to diet and wellness, nevertheless it will not be ample to qualify you for sure jobs within the diet area.  

That being mentioned, some jobs you could be eligible for after finishing a web based diet certification embrace: 

  • Well being coach: As a well being coach, you could present steering and assist to purchasers to assist them obtain their well being targets. This will embrace providing recommendation on diet, train, and life-style habits. 
  • Diet educator: On this position, you could train others concerning the significance of diet and how you can make wholesome meals selections. Chances are you’ll work in a wide range of settings, together with colleges, group facilities, and healthcare amenities. 
  • Wellness marketing consultant: As a wellness marketing consultant, you could present recommendation and proposals to people or organizations on how you can enhance their total well being and wellbeing. This will embrace providing steering on diet, stress administration, and train. 

It is vital to notice that the job alternatives accessible to you could rely in your particular certification, degree of training, and expertise.  

Essential Takeaways 

On this article, we mentioned the training and coaching required to grow to be a dietitian and authorized 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 varieties of jobs that could be accessible after finishing a web based diet certification. 

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



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