Registered Dietitian versus A Nutritionist

A Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist is a nutrition and food specialist that has studied nutrition from an accredited university and has usually attained a Master’s Degree or more. All dietitians are “nutritionists,” however all “nutritionists” are not dietitians.  You should always ask about someone’s training. Many people can call themselves “nutritionists” and have only taken a 6 or 12-month course or just an online course and then call themselves “nutritionists.”

To be certified in New York State, you must be licensed as a Certified Dietitian-Nutritionist (CDN). Any use of the titles "Certified Dietitian," "Certified Nutritionist" or "Certified Dietitian-Nutritionist" within New York State requires certification. To be certified as a dietitian-nutritionist in New York State, you must meet education, examination, and experience requirements through the Office of the Professions.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) also registers Registered Dietitian-Nutritionists (RDN's) as food and nutrition experts. The following criteria are required to earn the RDN credential:

  • Completed a minimum of a bachelor’s degree at a U.S. regionally accredited university or college and course work accredited or approved by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
  • Completed an ACEND-accredited supervised practice program at a health-care facility, community agency, or a foodservice corporation or combined with undergraduate or graduate studies. Typically, a practice program will run 6 to 12 months in length.
  • Passed a national examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR ).
  • Completed continuing professional educational requirements to maintain registration.

Some RDN's hold additional certifications in specialized areas of practice. These are awarded through CDR, the credentialing agency for the Academy, and/or other medical and nutrition organizations and are recognized within the profession, but are not required.


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