Career Resources

What is a Registered Dietitian (RD)?

A Registered Dietitian is a food and nutrition expert who has met the minimum academic and professional requirements to qualify for the credential “RD.” The majority of RDs work in the treatment and prevention of disease (administering medical nutrition therapy, often part of medical teams), in hospitals, HMOs, private practice or other health-care facilities. In addition, a large number of RDs work in community and public health settings and academia and research. A growing number of RDs work in the food and nutrition industry, in business, journalism, sports nutrition, and corporate wellness programs.

Registered Dietitians (RDs) are food and nutrition experts who have met the following criteria to earn the RD credential:

  • Completed a minimum of a bachelor’s degree at a US 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 six to 12 months in length.
  • Passed a national examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR). For more information regarding the examination, refer to CDR’s website at www.cdrnet.org
  • Completed continuing professional educational requirements to maintain registration.

Some RDs 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. Some of the certifications include pediatric or renal nutrition, sports dietetics, nutrition support and diabetes education.

In addition to RD credentialing, many states have regulatory laws for dietitians and nutrition practitioners. Frequently these state requirements are met through the same education and training required to become an RD.

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