What is a registered dietitian nutritionist? 

Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) are food and nutrition experts who have met the following criteria to earn the RDN 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.

    Download RDN Fact Sheet


Some RDNs hold additional certifications in specialized areas of practice. These are awarded through CDR, the credentialing agency for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 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 RDN 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 RDN.

"Every Registered Dietitian Is a Nutritionist, but Not Every Nutritionist Is a Registered Dietitian"



What is a Nutrition and Dietetic Technician, Registered?

An NDTR is a food and nutrition practitioner who has completed at least a two-year associate's degree at a U.S. regionally accredited university or college, required course work and at least 450 hours of supervised practice accredited by CADE or at least a bachelor's degree at a U.S. regionally accredited university or college and required coursework for a Didactic Program (DPD) or Coordinated Program in Dietetics (CP). In addition, you must pass a national NDTR examination administered by CDR and complete continuing professional educational requirements to maintain registration. The majority of NDTRs work with RDs in a variety of employment settings including health care (assisting RDs or RDNs in providing medical nutrition therapy), in hospitals, HMOs, clinics or other health care facilities. In addition, a large number of NDTRs work in community and public health settings such as school or day care centers, adult aging programs, correctional facilities, weight management clinics, and WIC programs as nutrition counselors.

Becoming an NDTR