What Is the Difference Between a Dietitian and a Nutritionist?


Quick Answer

While dietitians and nutritionists both are food and nutrition experts, they vary in their training, education and certification. A dietitian must fulfill specific requirements, including completion of a supervised practice program at a health care or food service organization.

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Full Answer

In addition to the supervised practice, dietitians must earn a bachelor's degree from a program with coursework approved by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics' Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics. They must pass a national exam administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration and continue to take professional education classes to maintain their license. They work in medical facilities, health care organizations, food service agencies, hospitals or clinics and offer food plans and supplement advice to improve health.

A nutritionist usually earns a graduate degree in a related field. States differ on the criteria for nutritionists. Some states require graduate study, real life experience and passing an exam to obtain a license. Other states don't require certification or education in the field.

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