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Licensed Nutritionist vs. Registered Dietitian: Evaluating Roles


Whereas a Registered Dietitian (RD) or a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)  is a specialised position that may present medical diet remedy, a Licensed Nutritionist (CN) is a decrease funding certification with ample alternatives in well being and wellness. Every credential contains its personal academic stipulations, certification exams, job alternatives, and licensure necessities. 

This text gives a full breakdown of licensed nutritionists vs. registered dietician certifications, serving to you make an knowledgeable profession determination. 

What’s a Registered Dietitian (RD) or Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)?

A registered dietitian (RD) is identical 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 technique to additional improve alternatives for RDNs. 

Both approach, the position requires particular schooling necessities, together with a bachelor’s diploma from a university or college, with coursework that sometimes contains meals and diet sciences, meals service methods administration, enterprise, economics, pc science, sociology, biochemistry, physiology, microbiology, and chemistry. RDs and RDNs should additionally full an accredited dietetic internship , or supervised observe program at a well being care facility, meals service company, or neighborhood company. 

In spite of everything necessities are met for licensure, various job alternatives grow to be obtainable. These could embrace explaining diet to particular person purchasers or teams, growing meal plans, selling diet via public talking, and placing collectively public well being and neighborhood outreach applications. Some registered dietitians and registered dietitian nutritionists select to pursue extra schooling to be able to grow to be researchers or professors. 

As they proceed within the career, some RDs and RDNs pursue certifications in specialised areas of observe, similar to pediatric diet, diabetes schooling, or senior diet. Working for presidency companies and personal observe are additionally potential avenues for RDs and RDNs.

Irrespective of which path they observe, RDs and RDNs should renew their credentials each 5 years and apply for certification primarily based on their state’s legal guidelines. 

What’s a Licensed Nutritionist? 

Those that merely wish to present dietary counseling could wish to contemplate the choice of changing into a Licensed Nutritionist, also called a Licensed Vitamin Guide. 

This position requires completion of a diet certification program or sequence 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 this kind of program, you’ll examine subjects just like the rules of vitality steadiness, macro and micro vitamins, the connection between diet and bodily health, the usage of analysis in creating dietary plans, and the identification of behaviors that will have an effect on particular person purchasers. 

After the coursework is full, various job alternatives grow to be obtainable— 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, colleges, or neighborhood applications. 

This certification means that you can give educated dietary steering that may embrace growing dietary plans for particular person purchasers, creating workshops on wholesome consuming habits that may be introduced at colleges or corporations, and offering help to teams with particular objectives like weight reduction or illness administration.  

Licensed Nutritionists can provide, a supervised observe program, for meals and diet consumption. Licensed Nutritionists are meals and diet consultants, who’re way more liable to prescribe diet remedy, versus referring sufferers to an MD or pharmacist for tablets. Each have their place. Nonetheless, nutritionists nearly all the time wish to begin with diet as a gasoline supply and framework.Typically, 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. 

Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs)  Licensed Nutritionists 
Instructional Necessities  Completion of a bachelor’s diploma program that’s accredited by the Accreditation Council for Schooling in Vitamin and Dietetics (ACEND) of the Academy of Vitamin and Dietetics, together with the Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) 

*From January 1, 2024, the Fee on Dietetic Registration (CDR) would require a minimal of a grasp’s diploma to be eligible for the registration examination for dietitians. 

After finishing their diploma, candidates should endure a supervised observe program or internship, which generally lasts about 1200 hours. 

Finishing persevering with skilled schooling (CPE) credit regularly

Varies extensively, from highschool diploma to bachelor’s diploma

Profitable completion of a certification program by an accredited group

Persevering with Schooling Credit each 1-2 years relying on the accrediting physique

Examination  Should cross the Fee on Dietetic Registration (CDR) examination

After passing the examination, RDNs should receive a license to observe of their state, if their state requires licensure. Licensure necessities can range by state.

Varies by certifying group

Deal with basic diet data, counseling abilities, and ethics

Job Titles  Scientific Dietitian, Scientific Nutritionist, Neighborhood Dietitian/Nutritionist, Administration Dietitian, Guide Dietitian, and many others.  Vitamin Coach, Wellness Coach, Well being Educator, Vitamin Guide, and many others. 
Scope of Work  Medical diet remedy, prognosis and remedy of diet-related well being circumstances, diet counseling, analysis Habits change, help, schooling, and training

*Doesn’t embrace prognosis or remedy of circumstances

Wage  Common of $69,090 as of October 25, 2023, however the vary sometimes falls between $62,890 and $75,990 (wage.com) 

*Varies primarily based on location, expertise, and office

$44,300 as of October 25, 2023, however the wage vary sometimes falls between $39,098 and $49,84 (wage.com). Entrepreneurship opens up extra earnings alternatives.

*Varies primarily based on certification degree, area of interest, sub-specialties, expertise, and setting

AFPA Certified Holistic Nutritionist Program Guide

Study Easy methods to Develop into a Licensed Holistic Nutritionist in Much less Than 6 Months

Easy methods to Develop into a Dietitian: Are There Dietitian Certification Programs On-line? 

The coaching and eligibility to grow to be a registered dietitian nutritionist  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 Accreditation Council for Schooling in Vitamin and Dietetics (ACEND) accredited dietetics program, which incorporates coursework in meals and diet sciences, medical diet remedy, foodservice methods administration, and neighborhood diet. 
  • Full a supervised observe program, which features a minimal of 1200 hours of supervised observe in areas similar to scientific diet, neighborhood diet, and foodservice administration. 
  • Move the nationwide registration examination for dietitians administered by the Fee on Dietetic Registration (CDR). 
  • Get hold of any state-specific licenses or certifications required to observe as a dietitian within the state the place you propose to work. 

It’s necessary to notice that the precise necessities for changing into a dietitian could range relying on the state the place you propose to observe, so it’s a good suggestion to analysis the necessities earlier than starting your schooling and coaching. Moreover, it could be useful to hunt steering 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 grow to be a registered dietitian. 

Easy methods to Develop into a 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 individual time.  

One among our hottest programs is the Holistic Nutritionist Certification. This course incorporates details about every part 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 licensed nutritionists are each professionals who work within the area of diet and wellness, however there are some key variations between the 2 by way of schooling, coaching, and profession paths. Here’s a comparability of dietitians and licensed nutritionists: 

Schooling 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 may maintain a bachelor’s diploma in diet, dietetics, or a associated area, however certification necessities range by state. Some states could require certification via a state licensing board or different group, whereas others could not require certification in any respect. 

Scope of Observe: 

  • Dietitians are educated to work in quite a lot of settings, together with hospitals, clinics, colleges, and long-term care services, and are certified to supply medical diet remedy to sufferers with complicated medical circumstances. 
  • Licensed nutritionists could present diet counseling and schooling to purchasers, however their scope of observe is extra restricted than that of a registered dietitian. 

Profession Alternatives: 

  • Dietitians may fit in quite a lot of roles, together with working as scientific 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 schooling 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 examine of diet, weight loss plan, and the connection between meals and well being. Some applications embrace utilized well being habits change concept so as to have the ability to present extra teaching providers. Coaches work with people or teams to assist them make higher meals decisions, develop wholesome consuming habits, and obtain particular well being objectives. 

Listed below are among the particular duties {that a} nutritionist may carry out: 

  • Assessing dietary wants: A nutritionist may conduct an in depth evaluation of a person’s weight loss plan and life-style to find out their dietary wants and determine any areas the place they could be missing necessary vitamins. Observe that diet coaches and licensed nutritionists can’t diagnose or deal with circumstances, and in lots of states, they can’t suggest dietary supplements or medical dietary remedy of circumstances.  
  • Offering diet schooling and training: Nutritionists educate people in regards to the position of assorted vitamins within the physique, the best way to learn meals labels, and the best way to make wholesome decisions when eating out. They’ll additionally use habits change strategies to help purchasers in adopting a wholesome relationship with meals.  
  • Analysis: Nutritionists may conduct analysis to raised perceive the connection between weight loss 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 group, collaborating with physicians, nurses, and different healthcare professionals to supply complete care to sufferers. 

The particular duties {that a} nutritionist performs could range relying on their space of specialization and the kind of purchasers they work with. Some nutritionists work with people with particular well being circumstances, similar to diabetes or coronary heart illness, whereas others could give attention to 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 range in that means relying on the state or nation by which the person is training. Nonetheless, normally, listed here 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 academic 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 providers. 


“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 range of their necessities however typically 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 approach for people to exhibit their data and experience within the area. 


It’s necessary to notice that the phrases “licensed nutritionist” and “licensed nutritionist” should not standardized and could also be used otherwise relying on the precise state or nation by which the person is training. It’s all the time a good suggestion to analysis the precise {qualifications} and credentials of a nutritionist earlier than looking for their providers. 

What Can a Dietitian Do {That a} Nutritionist Can’t? 

Registered dietitian nutritionists and nutritionists share many similarities of their work, as each are educated within the examine of diet and might present diet counseling to people or teams. Nonetheless, there are just a few key variations between the 2 professions by way of their coaching, scope of observe, 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 includes growing and implementing customized diet plans for people with particular medical circumstances. This may increasingly embrace growing specialised diets for people with circumstances similar to diabetes, coronary heart illness, or kidney illness, in addition to offering diet help for people receiving medical remedies similar to chemotherapy. 
  • Work in scientific settings: Dietitians are sometimes employed in scientific settings similar to hospitals, nursing houses, and long-term care services, 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 similar to colleges, hospitals, and eating places, the place they could be chargeable for growing menus, overseeing meals preparation, and guaranteeing that meals is ready in accordance with diet and security requirements. 
  • Might require licensure: In lots of states, dietitians are required to be licensed to be able to observe. This sometimes includes finishing particular academic and coaching necessities, passing an examination, and assembly ongoing persevering with schooling necessities. 

It’s price noting that the overall time period “nutritionist” shouldn’t be a legally protected time period in lots of states, which signifies that there are not any particular academic or coaching necessities for people who use this title. Because of this, the {qualifications} and scope of observe of nutritionists could range extensively, and it’s necessary for people looking 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, academic necessities, and salaries can differ. 

Dietitians work in quite a lot of settings, together with hospitals, clinics, colleges, authorities companies, and personal practices. They supply medical diet remedy to handle and forestall circumstances similar to diabetes, coronary heart illness, and different persistent illnesses. The job outlook for dietitians is optimistic, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projecting an 8% job progress price for the career from 2020 to 2030. The median annual wage for dietitians within the US was $63,090 as of Might 2020. 

Licensed nutritionists may also work in quite a lot of settings, together with hospitals, colleges, and personal practices, and so they could 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 protected to say, nevertheless, that the wage for licensed nutritionists or coaches can range considerably inside the area. It is because many licensed nutritionists work in a non-public observe which gives excessive potential for progress.  

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

The kinds of jobs chances are you’ll be eligible for after finishing a web-based diet certification can range relying on the precise certification and your earlier schooling and expertise. 

Finishing a web-based diet certification could provide help to acquire data and abilities associated to diet and wellness, nevertheless it is probably not enough to qualify you for sure jobs within the diet area.  

That being stated, some jobs chances are you’ll be eligible for after finishing a web-based diet certification embrace: 

  • Well being coach: As a well being coach, chances are you’ll present steering and help to purchasers to assist them obtain their well being objectives. This may increasingly embrace providing recommendation on diet, train, and life-style habits. 
  • Vitamin educator: On this position, chances are you’ll train others in regards to the significance of diet and the best way to make wholesome meals decisions. Chances are you’ll work in quite a lot of settings, together with colleges, neighborhood facilities, and healthcare services. 
  • Wellness guide: As a wellness guide, chances are you’ll present recommendation and suggestions to people or organizations on the best way to enhance their total well being and wellbeing. This may increasingly embrace providing steering on diet, stress administration, and train. 

It’s necessary to notice that the job alternatives obtainable to chances are you’ll rely in your particular certification, degree of schooling, and expertise.  

Important Takeaways 

On this article, we mentioned the schooling and coaching required to grow to be a dietitian and licensed nutritionist, in addition to the distinction between a registered dietitian nutritionist, a licensed nutritionist, and an authorized nutritionist. 

We additionally mentioned the job outlook and median salaries for dietitians and nutritionists, in addition to the kinds of jobs which may be obtainable after finishing a web-based diet certification. 

Every profession path has its advantages. In the end, it’s as much as you to determine which diet profession aligns together with your objectives.

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

Become an AFPA Certified Holistic Nutritionist


  1. https://www.cdrnet.org/  
  2. https://www.eatright.org/become-an-rdn-or-ndtr  
  3. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/  


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