Becoming a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)

Dietitians are experts in the use of food and nutrition to promote health and manage disease. They counsel people on ways to lead healthy lifestyles or achieve specific health-related goals. Dietitians work in a variety of settings including but not limited to clinical, business and management, private practice, public health and community nutrition, research and culinary.

The path to becoming an RDN includes specific academic coursework, called the Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD), and supervised practice, often in the form of a Dietetic Internship. 

According to the Bureau of Labor statistics, the job outlook for RDNs is positive. Employment of dietitians and nutritionists is projected to grow 15 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. The median annual wage for dietitians and nutritionists was $59,410 in May 2017.

Steps to Becoming a Dietitian 

  1. Complete a bachelor's degree and receive a verification statement from an ACEND-accredited program (Didactic Program in DieteticsCoordinated ProgramFuture Graduate ProgramForeign or International Dietitian Education Program
  2. Complete an ACEND-accredited supervised practice dietetic internship program or Individual Supervised Practice Pathway is an option. Supervised practice/experiential learning is combined with the Coordinated ProgramFuture Graduate Program, and International Dietitian Education Program
  3. Pass the Commission on Dietetic Registration's dietetic registration exam.
  4. Gain licensure in your state of practice, if applicable.

Effective January 1, 2024, the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) will require a minimum of a master’s degree to be eligible to take the credentialing exam to become a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN). In addition, CDR requires that individuals complete coursework and supervised practice in programs accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). In Ohio, graduates also must obtain licensure to practice. Graduates who successfully complete the ACEND-accredited MS in Public Health Nutrition Dietetic Internship at Case Western Reserve University are eligible to apply to take the CDR credentialing exam to become an RDN. 

For more information on becoming a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.