A dietitian holds an apple and smiles

How to Become a Dietitian

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If you want to become a dietitian, you need to make sure you know what educational and licensing requirements there are in your state.

Dietitians are certified to give consultations and professional advice to individuals and organizations regarding health and nutrition habits. In order to do this, most states require dietitians to have a baseline of education and the completion of examinations and internships. If you want to learn more about how to become a dietitian, read on to learn about the specific requirements that most states have in place.

Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree

In order to become a dietitian, you must at least have a bachelor’s degree in a field related to dietetics. Possible majors can include food and nutrition sciences, health sciences, or food services management systems. Make sure the Accreditation Counsel of Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) approves your coursework. The ACEND may also require some prerequisite coursework for licensing exams if you want to become a dietitian without earning a master’s degree. If you know you want to earn a master’s degree in dietetics, then you may only need to complete prerequisite courses to get into a master’s program.

Complete an Internship

In order to be able to become accredited by the ACEND, you have to complete a practicing internship at a healthcare facility, community agency, or a food service corporation. The internship must be approved by the ACEND and it must last between six months to one year. In the U.S., there are more than 250 accredited internship programs for dietetics students.

Pass the National Certifying Examination

If you want to become a registered dietitian, you may take the national licensing exam given by the Commission on Dietetic Registration. Generally speaking, you will get information about this exam by the program director of your internship.

Consider Getting a Master’s Degree in Dietetics

If you earn a master’s degree in dietetics, you’ll have more opportunities and better salary prospects. Master’s students in dietetics may complete their accredited internship during their graduate program instead of their undergraduate program.

Complete Continuing Education Requirements

If you become a registered dietitian, you will be required to complete at least 75 hours of continuing education courses and training every five years. This ongoing training helps to ensure that you are striving to improve you skills and knowledge of the field throughout your career.

Find a Job

After you’ve become a registered dietitian, you can start looking for a job in the industry or work setting of your choice. Many dietitians work in hospitals, nursing homes, food services industries, or even in their own consulting practices. Look at local job listings or use networking to land the perfect job for you.

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