How Do You Become a Nutritionist?


To become a nutritionist or dietitian requires a bachelor's degree in dietetics, clinical nutrition, food service systems management or a related area. Nutritionists and dietitians must also complete several hundred hours of supervised training, which is usually a six- to 12-month internship following graduation. Most states require nutritionists and dietitians to be licensed; that is, candidates must pass an exam administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration.

Some nutritionists decide to get a registered dietitian nutritionist credential. In many cases, the requirements for an RDN are the same as a licensed dietitian in states requiring a license. Many employers prefer hiring RDNs. To maintain an RDN, nutritionists must complete continuing professional education requirements. Some nutritionists choose to obtain a certified nutrition specialist designation. The CNS credential shows an advanced level of knowledge and requires a master's or doctoral degree and 1,000 hours of experience. Nutritionists and dietitians may seek additional specialty certification in an area such as pediatric nutrition.

Nutritionists and dietitians advise people on healthy eating habits and achieving health-related goals. They develop meal plans, promote better nutrition, evaluate the effects of diet on clients or patients and keep up with scientific research. Places that employ nutritionists and dietitians include hospitals, long-term care facilities, schools and clinics.