The path to becoming a registered dietician heavily relies on education, skills and geographical location. Registered Dietitians (RDs) are experts in food and nutrition who address the world’s complex issues that surround food service management, education, nutrition and food business. Because the RD certificate is a widely recognized proof that one is an expert in food and nutrition, employers and clients give preference in hiring nutritionists with these credentials.
This guide will help aspiring nutritionists understand the steps to becoming Registered Dietitians (RDs).
Complete a Bachelor’s Degree in Foods and Nutrition, Dietetics Option
A major in dietetics provides a strong natural science program that provides a foundation in foods and nutrition with a detailed curriculum that meets the accreditation standards. Students who major in dietetics aim at becoming Registered Dietitians (RDs) after the completion of their studies.
The course work can be very challenging as students share classes with undergraduate students who are majoring in Psychology, Biochemistry, Biological Sciences, Anatomy, Pre-Medicine, Sports and Leisure Sciences, Hospitality, Food Science and Advanced Nutrition.
Apply and complete Accredited Dietetic Internship (DI) Program
After the completion of the Bachelor’s degree, students can apply for: traditional internship programs, distance internship programs or dual internship and master’s degree programs. Students are expected to complete at least 1,200 hours of supervision during the internship. During this time, they will build their experience in clinical nutritional care, community nutrition, food systems management, sports nutrition, hospitality and others. However, the experiences vary in different centers. Hence, students should research on different individual internship websites to know the experiences offered.
Traditional and distance internship programs last ten-thirteen months while dual internship with master’s programs typically takes 2-3 years.
Pass National Board Examination for licensing and certification
Many employers and clients require nutritionists to have special certifications to prove their knowledge and skills. Like most other health care professions, RDs are required to pass a national board certification examination to earn the RD certificate. The RD examination is computer-based and covers clinical nutritional care, community nutritional care and food service.