Certificate programs do not lead to certification as a dietician. For that, students need to complete at least a bachelor's degree as well as an internship. Online certificate programs can, however, help dieticians maintain state permits. The programs, too, aren't limited to health professionals. Anyone with an interest in nutrition may participate. Certificates can be found fully online at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Applying to graduate certificates requires a bachelor's degree.
Those seeking to work as registered dieticians will need state permits in the form of licenses or certification to do so. Students should be aware that state credentialing departments may be very selective about which educational programs they'll accept in a student's request for a state permit. Moreover, permit requirements vary by state. Career-minded individuals should always check their state permit requirements before enrolling in any dietician program.
Certificate in Dietetics
A typical dietician certificate program entails four to ten classes. Though some are graduate-level certificates requiring a bachelor's degree for admission, most are autonomous programs without prerequisites. Delivery typically takes the form of self-paced study, with lectures and homework delivered through online class forums and digital repositories.
An online certificate program generally includes several courses that students take at their own pace over the internet. There are no in-person requirements.
Most programs accredited by the American Dietetic Association (ADA) for certification and continuing education in nutrition follow a similar course path. Topics cover nutrition as it applies to aspects of sports, weight management and more.
Nutrition and Wellness
This introductory class shows students the effects of a well-balanced diet, including decreased incidences of metabolic syndromes, diabetes, cancer and heart disease. The course uses the latest health research on different foods to discuss nutrition as a tool for overall health.
This program looks at the causes and effects of obesity, as well as exploring nutritional approaches to weight loss. Topics of discussion include fad diets and the importance of nutritious foods at different ages.
Public Education in Nutrition and Wellness
Disseminating knowledge about the importance of nutrition is a challenge when dealing with large populations. This course addresses the tools necessary to affect the overall health of a population through nutrition education.
Sports Nutrition and Performance
This course focuses on nutrition as it applies to athletes and those engaged in intense fitness regimens. Topics of discussion include the safe application of nutritional supplements, game-day meals and the importance of meal plans in athletic training.
According to the ADA, certification as a dietician requires a bachelor's degree and completion of an accredited 6- to 12-month internship program (www.eatright.org). In May 2015, dieticians and nutritionists earned a median salary of $57,910 (www.bls.gov).
State permit requirements vary, but most demand that registered dieticians earn a certain number of continuing education units (CEU) to maintain their credentials. Additionally, those CEUs must be from a state-approved program. Most states accept programs endorsed by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) or the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND); but, students should always confirm before enrolling.
A certificate program in dietetics covers nutrition, wellness, public education and sports performance, but is not enough to become licensed as a dietician; this typically requires a bachelor's degree. These programs can help working dieticians maintain licensure, but they are open to all other applicants as well.