What is a Dietitian?

Registered Dietitians (RD) and Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDN) are individuals who have:

  • Completed a minimum of a bachelor’s degree program approved by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND)
  • Completed pre-professional experience approved by ACEND (1,200 hours or more)
  • Passed a national examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR)
  • Completed continuing professional education requirements (75 credit hours)

Nutrition and Dietetic Technician, Registered (NDTR) are individuals who have:

  • Completed at least a two-year associate’s degree approved by ACEND including supervised practice experience
  • Passed a national examination administered by CDR
  • Completed continuing professional education requirements (50 credit hours)

Fellow of The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (FAND) are dietitians who have:

  • Exhibited characteristics of advanced-level practice
  • Earned a master’s or doctoral degree
  • Accumulated at least eight years of work experience

Board Certified Specialists are dietitians who have:

  • At least 4,000 hours of practice experience as an RD in the last five years in the specialty
  • Successfully completed a specialty certification examination that emphasizes applying dietetics principles to the solution of clinical problems

Dietitian vs. Nutritionist: What's the Difference?

  • Dietitians are considered nutritionists, but not all nutritionists are considered dietitians
  • The largest difference lies in the length, scope, and mode of formal education and training that dietitians go through, making them qualified to work in various settings and provide a wide range of services
  • The bottom line is seek nutrition advice from a professional with letters after their name—and know that registered dietitians have the skill and education to help you reach your goals safely and efficiently


Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Fact Sheet