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What degree do I need to be a dietician?

Are you constantly searching for ways to make healthy changes in dietary habits of those around you? If so, perhaps a career as a dietician is your future. As with many other careers in health care, becoming a dietician requires specialized training and nationally-recognized certification. While schooling may be intense, the rewards of helping others shape their health and prolong their life is well worth the time and financial investment.

Dietician Degree Options

Dietician degree seekers are typically after the title of Registered Dietician, or RD. In order to become an RD, you must first obtain a bachelor's degree from an institution accredited by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) as well as by the U.S. Department of Education.

Subjects covered through this college coursework cover a wide variety of concentrations, which include: nutritional science, biology, sociology, business and science-based coursework such as physiology, microbiology and anatomy.

Practical Experience

In order to qualify for the registered dietician certification exam, students in undergraduate and graduate programs must complete 1,200 hours of supervised training through an ACEND-accredited program. Throughout the course of the program, aspiring dieticians learn through hands-on interaction with patients, physicians or consumers. Such programs are often found at community agencies or health care clinics.

Certification Examination

While there are several ways an aspiring dietician may qualify for examination, the most common consist of earning at least a baccalaureate degree and completing the required hours of supervised practical training. Once these, and any other, qualifications are met, you may qualify for RD certification through the Commission on Dietetic Registration.

The exam consists of four primary elements: Nutrition Care for Individuals and Groups, Management of Food and Nutrition Programs and Services, Food Service Systems and Food and Nutrition Sciences. In all, the exam encompasses 125-145 questions. Upon passing each of the four exam domains, you'll be awarded the title of Certified Registered Dietician.

State Licensure

Every state except Arizona, New Jersey and Colorado require licensure or state-specific certification. Qualifications vary dramatically; however, typical eligibility requirements involve an undergraduate/graduate degree and national certification. Determine licensure or certification requirements in your state by visiting the Division of Professional Licensure for your particular region.


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