There are currently forty-six out of fifty states which have enacted specific regulations regarding the practice of dietetics by either nutritionists or dietitians. Each state has its own specific licensure and certification requirements to allow people to practice within their individual state.
The first step in becoming a dietitian or nutritionist in your state is to find out which title to use, and which steps in certification you must take. Examine the titles and differences between being a dietitian vs nutritionist in various states, and start your journey on the road to a rewarding career in diet and nutrition.
Dietitian vs. Nutritionist
Many people wonder what the difference between a dietitian vs nutritionist is, and the truth is the two careers are very similar in what they do. There’s also a third classification now, the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
In brief, all dietitians are nutritionists. However, not all nutritionists have met the qualifications to be considered a registered dietitian. To become an RD, you will need at least a Bachelor’s degree in a related field, 1,200 hours of supervised and accredited work experience, completion of a registration exam and continuing education requirements.
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Licensure vs. Registration
The above differences refer to national certification by the AND. Licensure by state is an entirely different issue. What state licensure does is permit you to practice as a nutritionist or dietitian in your given state, and use a state-specific title after your name. Many states require registration as part of the licensure process, or make it much easier to get licensed if you are registered.
Currently, the following states have no certification or licensure laws at all: Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, and New Jersey
States that license or certify both nutritionists and dietitians include: Alabama, Alaska, Delaware, D.C., Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington.
The remaining states require licensure and/or certification only of dietitians.
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What about My State?
Each state can have very different laws, rules and regulations regarding not only what it takes to become a licensed dietitian or nutritionist, but what the title allows in terms of professional activities. If you’re wondering what it takes in your state, check out the various state pages we maintain on the licensing requirements for each of the 50 states.
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
Employment and Outlook
As people become more concerned with living a healthy lifestyle and we become more aware as a society of the dangers of an unhealthy diet, this career becomes more important with each passing day. According to the Department of Labor Statistics, the annual average wage for dietitians and nutritionists was $58,410, with the highest earners in the field pulling down around $80,950 per year.
The projected 10-year growth for this field is an astonishing 16%, which is far above the national average. That means that not only is it possible to make a great living as a dietitian, there’s also a high likelihood of finding a good job in the field.
For more information about dietitians, nutritionists, and the path to this career, check out the other pages on our site.