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Licensed Nutritionist vs. Registered Dietitian: Evaluating Roles

Editor’s Notice: This put up was printed 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 in the case of instructional necessities, job duties, and typical workplaces. 

The 2 most typical designations within the area are licensed nutritionist and registered dietician. There are some apparent factors of overlap, similar 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 similar as a more moderen designation known as a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN). The Academy of Vitamin and Dietetics’ Board of Administrators created the newer title as a option to additional improve alternatives for RDNs. 

Both means, 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 neighborhood company. 

In spite of everything necessities are met for licensure, plenty of job alternatives change into out there. These might embody explaining diet to particular person shoppers or teams, growing meal plans, selling diet via public talking, and placing collectively neighborhood outreach applications. Some RDs and RDNs select to pursue further training in an effort to change into researchers or professors. 

As they proceed within the occupation, some RDs and RDNs pursue certifications in specialised areas of follow, similar to 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 think about the choice of changing into a Licensed Nutritionist, often known as a Licensed Vitamin Advisor. 

This function requires completion of a diet certification program or collection of certification applications, normally with the prerequisite of getting a highschool diploma, GED, or worldwide equal. This may typically be executed in six months or much less. In one of these program, you’ll examine subjects just like the ideas of vitality stability, 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, plenty of job alternatives change into out there— from being self-employed as a dietary and wellness guide to working for meals complement distributors, company wellness facilities, weight reduction facilities, well being meals and diet retail shops, well being and wellness publications, faculties, or neighborhood applications. 

This certification permits you to give educated dietary steerage which may embody growing dietary plans for particular person shoppers, creating workshops that may be offered at faculties 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 individuals 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. 

Tips on how to Turn into 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 faculty 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 similar to medical diet, neighborhood diet, and foodservice administration. 
  • Go the nationwide registration examination for dietitians administered by the Fee 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 essential to notice that the particular necessities for changing 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 training and coaching. Moreover, it could be useful to hunt steerage from an expert group for dietitians, such because the Academy of Vitamin and Dietetics, to make sure that you’re following the suitable steps to change into a registered dietitian. 

Licensed Vitamin Specialist: On-line Vitamin Programs 

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

One in all our hottest programs is the Holistic Nutritionist Certification. This course accommodates details about all the things from meals and diet science to teaching methodologies. AFPA additionally affords 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 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 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 cross a nationwide registration examination in an effort 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 via a state licensing board or different group, whereas others might not require certification in any respect. 

Scope of Observe: 

  • Dietitians are educated to work in quite a lot of settings, together with hospitals, clinics, faculties, and long-term care services, and are certified to supply medical diet remedy to sufferers with complicated medical circumstances. 
  • 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 fit in quite a lot of roles, together with working as medical dietitians, meals service managers, neighborhood 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 licensed nutritionists work within the area of diet and wellness, dietitians sometimes have extra in depth training and coaching and a broader scope of follow. Alternatively, 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 applications embody utilized well being habits change concept 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 weight-reduction plan and way of life to find out their dietary wants and establish any areas the place they might be missing essential vitamins. Notice that diet coaches and licensed nutritionists can’t diagnose or deal with circumstances, and in lots of states, they can’t advocate dietary supplements or medical dietary remedy of circumstances.  
  • Offering diet training and training: Nutritionists educate people in regards to 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 will additionally use habits change strategies to assist 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 bettering diet and well being outcomes. 
  • Collaborating with different healthcare professionals: Nutritionists typically work as a part of a healthcare workforce, collaborating with physicians, nurses, and different healthcare professionals to supply complete care to sufferers. 

The particular 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, similar to diabetes or coronary heart illness, whereas others might concentrate on working with athletes to optimize their efficiency via 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 through which the person is working towards. Nevertheless, typically, listed below 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 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 supply diet counseling companies. 


“Licensed nutritionist” is a time period that’s typically used to seek advice from 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 mostly not required in an effort to follow as a nutritionist however is usually a means for people to exhibit their information and experience within the area. 


It is essential to notice that the phrases “licensed nutritionist” and “licensed nutritionist” will not be standardized and could also be used in a different way relying on the particular state or nation through which the person is working towards. It is all the time a good suggestion to analysis the particular {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 educated within the examine 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 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 supply medical diet remedy, which entails growing and implementing personalised diet plans for people with particular medical circumstances. This will embody growing specialised diets for people with circumstances similar to diabetes, coronary heart illness, or kidney illness, in addition to offering diet assist for people receiving medical remedies similar to chemotherapy. 
  • Work in medical settings: Dietitians are sometimes employed in medical settings similar to hospitals, nursing properties, and long-term care services, the place they work as a part of a healthcare workforce to supply diet take care of sufferers. 
  • Supervise meals service operations: Dietitians may fit in foodservice settings similar to faculties, hospitals, and eating places, the place they might be accountable 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 instructional and coaching necessities, passing an examination, and assembly ongoing persevering with training necessities. 

It is price noting that the overall time period “nutritionist” just isn’t 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. In consequence, the {qualifications} and scope of follow of nutritionists might differ extensively, and it is 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, instructional necessities, and salaries can differ. 

Dietitians work in quite a lot of settings, together with hospitals, clinics, faculties, authorities companies, and personal practices. They supply medical diet remedy to handle and stop circumstances similar to diabetes, coronary heart illness, and different continual 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 Might 2020. 

Licensed nutritionists can even work in quite a lot of settings, together with hospitals, faculties, and personal practices, they usually 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 secure to say, nonetheless, that the wage for licensed nutritionists or coaches can differ considerably throughout the area. It’s because many licensed nutritionists work in a non-public follow which gives excessive potential for progress.  

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

The varieties of jobs it’s possible you’ll be eligible for after finishing an internet diet certification can differ relying on the particular certification and your earlier training and expertise. 

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

That being mentioned, some jobs it’s possible you’ll be eligible for after finishing an internet diet certification embody: 

  • Well being coach: As a well being coach, it’s possible you’ll present steerage and assist to shoppers to assist them obtain their well being targets. This will embody providing recommendation on diet, train, and way of life habits. 
  • Vitamin educator: On this function, it’s possible you’ll educate others in regards to the significance of diet and easy methods to make wholesome meals selections. Chances are you’ll work in quite a lot of settings, together with faculties, neighborhood facilities, and healthcare services. 
  • Wellness guide: As a wellness guide, it’s possible you’ll present recommendation and proposals to people or organizations on easy methods to enhance their total well being and wellbeing. This will embody providing steerage on diet, stress administration, and train. 

It is essential to notice that the job alternatives out there to it’s possible you’ll rely in your particular certification, stage of training, and expertise.  

Major Takeaways 

On this article, we mentioned the training and coaching required to change 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 varieties of jobs that could be out there after finishing an internet 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.  


  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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