How To Become a Registered Dietitian without a Nutrition Degree

Last Updated on August 10, 2022

The benefits are enormous for current, past, and potential healthcare professionals. Learning about the path you can take to become a registered dietitian without a nutrition degree is only part of the story though. Simply knowing that the RD program is an option is one thing – taking that leap of faith to enter into an educational framework before completion is another issue. You’re already busy with your life, college, and/or profession — now you have to add in more education too?

If you want to be a nutritionist but don’t have the time or money to get a degree, then you should learn how to become a Nutritionist without a degree. This way, you save both time and money while allowing you to meet your goals and If you want to become a nutritionist, but don’t like the idea of spending 40,000 dollars in college to do so, I’ve got some good news for you. All you need is about $23, some dedication and passion, and about two years worth of work.

Collegelearners will provide information you are looking for on How To Become A Registered Dietitian Without A Nutrition Degree, Overview of How To Become A Registered Dietitian Without A Nutrition Degree and Requirements of How To Become A Registered Dietitian Without A Nutrition Degree.

how to become a registered dietitian online

Becoming a dietitian offers one with a plethora of options by way of a career and being armed with the right information can only foster one’s ascension in this career pursuit. From registered dietitian programs online to how to become a registered dietitian online and how to become a certified nutritionist, the article below brings you all the latest information you need to know on them.

Registered dietitian (RD) is a popular career choice for many people interested in health and wellness. An RD can serve many roles in a community. You could work in a hospital or other medical facility and provide nutritional care to patients. Or, you could focus on population-level nutrition and work with nonprofits, government entities or educational institutions. 

Professional variety is only one benefit of becoming an RD. The career path of an RD offers livable wages with a median salary of $63,090 and has an expected job growth of 11% from 2020 to 2030. However, becoming a registered dietitian isn’t as easy as knowing about a healthy diet. Dietetics is a highly regulated profession where training and higher education matter, especially since most states require a license/certification to practice, and in order to become licensed, a secondary degree is required. By 2024, a minimum of a graduate degree in a related field is required to sit for the Registration Examination for Dietitians Test by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR exam). If you’re interested in becoming a registered dietitian, these are five steps you’ll need to complete.

  • Scroll to Step 1: Earn an accredited bachelor’s or master’s degree
  • Scroll to Step 2: Complete a dietetic internship
  • Scroll to Step 3: Pass the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) exam
  • Scroll to Step 4: Obtain a state license
  • Scroll to Step 5: Maintain state license and registration

Step 1: Earn an Accredited Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree

The first step to become a registered dietitian is to earn a degree in the area of nutrition and obtain a verification statement from an Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) accredited program. This is required in order to sit for the CDR exam. Currently, if an individual is interested in pursuing their RD, they may hold either a bachelor’s or master’s degree from an ACEND-accredited school; however, it is important to note that this will change in 2024. On January 1, 2024, a graduate degree will be the minimum requirement to sit for the CDR exam instead of a baccalaureate degree. 

If you graduate before 2024, you may pursue a bachelor’s degree in clinical nutrition, dietetics, public health nutrition, or foods and nutrition. Your courses will focus on evidence-based nutrition, nutritional therapy, community nutrition, applied food principles and food service systems. 

If you would like to pursue a master’s degree, you might consider an ACEND-accredited master’s in nutrition or a coordinated degree program, such as a master’s in public health/registered dietitian (MPH/RD). In your program application, be sure to include any specific background information or work history in nutrition that is required or that may qualify you for the next steps to become an RD.

Step 2: Complete a Dietetic Internship

You must obtain hands-on clinical experience through an internship after completing your nutrition program to become a registered dietician. This is true for individuals who have earned a master’s degree and not only those with bachelor’s degrees. 

You can go through a traditional Dietetic Internship (DI), a Coordinated Program (CP), or an Individualized Supervised Practice Pathway (ISPP). Whatever the program, you must complete 1,200 hours under the supervision of a licensed professional. 

Dietitian Internship

According to ACEND, to apply for a Dietetic Internship, you will use the online dietetic internship centralized application services (DICAS). Almost all internships take advantage of this system, and you can use it to be matched with appropriate DI and CP placements nationwide. If you are interested in an ISPP, you must pursue it through other avenues. 

Internships range in duration from eight to 24 months. You may work on a part- or full-time basis. There also are online and distance internship options if you cannot complete a traditional one in person. 

You can choose an internship based on your interests and career goals. There are many programs that focus on clinical nutrition, medical nutrition therapy, community nutrition, pediatric nutrition, geriatric nutrition, food systems management, public health nutrition education and other areas. 

Coordinated Programs

Many prospective RDs earn a degree and then pursue an internship separately. There is also the option of applying to a Coordinated Program, according to ACEND, which provides the essential Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) coursework as well as supervised practice. You can use an accredited Coordinated Program to obtain the necessary education and training required for the exam. 

A Dietetic Internship combined with graduate coursework is not an official Coordinated Program, though Coordinated Programs can be designed at the graduate degree level. 

Individualized Supervised Practice Pathways (ISPP)

Another option is pursuing an ISPP, which is meant to provide supervised practice through ACEND-accredited dietetic programs. There are two different types of ISPPs, one for Didactic Program in Dietetics graduates and  one for doctoral degree holders.

  • ISPP for Didactic Program in Dietetics Graduates  (DPD)

This option is for graduates who did not match with a dietetic internship but have a DPD verification statement. The DPD provides the required dietetics coursework leading to a bachelor’s or graduate degree. Graduates of the programs who are verified by the program director may apply for Dietetic Internships or ISPPs  to receive the supervised practice that is needed to be eligible to sit for the RD exam. 

  • ISPP for Doctoral Degree Graduates

You also can apply for an ISPP without a DPD verification statement if you have a doctoral degree. However, those students must attend an ISPP that is approved to offer a track for individuals with a doctoral degree. 

You can look for ISPPs by reviewing accredited education programs through ACEND, but please note that eligibility for specific ISPPs will vary by program. 

Step 3: Pass the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) Exam

Passing the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) exam is the most crucial step to earn the RD credential and become a registered dietitian. Once you have completed your degree and internship requirements, you can become validated by the CDR and should then take the registered dietitian exam. Rules are very strict regarding RD exam eligibility requirements. Remember to take a close look at the student options scenarios with different backgrounds, and make sure you are qualified to sit for the exam.

There are more than 250 testing locations. The exam is two and a half hours long and consists of up to 145 questions. Under the current Registered Dietitian Exam specifications (PDF, 258 KB), which are valid through December 31, 2021, the test consists of:

  • 25% principles of dietetics
  • 40% nutrition care for individuals and groups
  • 21% management of food and nutrition programs and services
  • 14% foodservice systems

Step 4: Obtain a State License

The state where you wish to practice may require you to obtain a state license or certification before you can be employed. The CDR provides information on which states require additional licensure for registered dietitians. In some circumstances, you may be eligible for a license based on your degree, internship and exam result. Most states have their own state licenses, so it’s better to check and prepare in advance for the specific requirements of where you want to live and work. 

How to Become A Registered Dietitian (Without a Nutrition Bachelor's Degree)  – Emilie Eats

Step 5: Maintain State License and Registration

To maintain your credentials as an RD, you must complete 75 continuing education credits every five years, and one credit must be in ethics.

You are required to submit a learning plan and activity log within 120 days of completing your first activity. CDR offers a 120-day calculator to determine the deadline to submit your learning plan. You must pay an annual registration maintenance fee and maintain your MyCDR Page. This is your personal landing page, and your information should be up to date. 

is becoming a dietitian worth it

Who is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)?

I’m finally sitting down to write this highly requested post! The most common question I get asked through email and Instagram is probably, how did you switch career paths to become a registered dietitian (RD)? Well, my friends, the day has come for me to finally spill all the information I have so that you can evaluate whether or not this is a career you want to pursue. Check out how I made decision for myself here!

Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) are nutrition experts and are the only legally recognized nutrition professionals in the United States and other parts of the world.

RDNs work in a variety of settings that include (among others) hospitals, clinics, public health, business, private practice, sports, universities, and research.

Having a career as a dietitian has always been named one of the best in the country. As society becomes increasingly aware of the importance of nutrition in health outcomes, the need for RDN grows.

In fact, the demand for dietitians is expected to grow faster than average, to 21% over the next ten years.

The most important point to consider about nutritionists is that anyone can call themselves a nutritionist, with or without nutrition education or certification. In fact, there are many accredited online nutrition courses that can be done in less than a day. However, there are many degree programs that one can take to obtain a degree in Nutrition.

The titles Registered Dietitian and “Registered Dietitian Nutritionist” are interchangeable and each dietitian may choose to use the credential of their choice. Simply put, all dietitians are nutritionists, but not all nutritionists are dietitians.

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