Certification Options for Dietary Advice Professionals

Apr 07, 2021

A degree in food science or nutrition is required in order to pursue a career as a dietary advice professional. To pursue Registered Dietitian or Dietetic Technician certification, one must complete an exam and meet educational and experience requirements. Specialized certification is also available, as are certification options for medical doctors and those with advanced degrees.

Essential Information

Dietary advice professionals, often referred to as dietitians or nutritionists, give nutritional counsel to patients while researching and creating nutritional programs. A bachelor's degree in an area such as nutrition or food science is required for aspiring dietitians in addition to professional certification.

Required Education Bachelor's Degree in Food Science or Nutrition and Professional Certification
Education Field of Study Nutrition/Food Science
Projected Job Growth (2019-2029)* 8% for dietitians and nutritionists
Median Salary (2020)* $63,090 for dietitians and nutritionists

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics


Prior to becoming certified an individual must receive a bachelor's degree. The most appropriate bachelor degrees for dietary advice professionals are in nutrition and food science. A number of colleges and universities offer these degree programs and they typically take four years to complete.


Dietary advice professional licensure requirements vary by state. Statutory licenses permit the use of specific job titles to those meeting certain prerequisites. The Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) provides information for each state agency contact to find out specific requirements.

Types of Certification

The CDR offers several types of certification for dietary advice professionals; however, prior to applying for them an individual must complete the Registration Examination for Dietitians and meet the minimum requirements set by the CDR.

An individual must become a Registered Dietitian (RD) and maintain the credential for two years with the CDR before applying for a board certification. The RD credential is for those with a bachelor's degree. In addition, a certain number of hours of relevant work experience must be documented; the amount of hours is dependent upon the specialty.

A Dietetic Technician, Registered (DTR) credential is also offered for those who hold an associate's degree. An individual with a DTR credential typically works in entry-level positions under a RD.

Board Certification

The CDR offers board certification in five different specialties. The first is in Gerontological Nutrition which focuses on nutrition and aging. They also offer Sports Dietetics Board Certification, which includes how diet relates to athletic performance. A board certification in Pediatric Nutrition centers on the growth and development of infants. A Renal Nutrition Board Certification concentrates on the health of the kidneys and a board certification in Oncology Nutrition focuses on cancer treatment.

Other Certifications

The American Board of Physician Nutrition Specialists (ABPNS) offers a Physician Nutrition Specialist (PNS) certification. In order to qualify an individual must be licensed to practice medicine, be certified by a member board of the American Board of Medical Specialties and have completed 1,000 hours of mentored clinical nutrition experience and formal instruction. A PNS certification covers general and status assessments, obesity, disease-specific nutrition and enteral and parenteral nutritional support.

The Certification Board for Nutrition Specialists (CBNS) offers a Professional Nutrition Specialist certification for those who have a graduate degree in nutrition and advanced training. This certification centers on competence, skills, experience and ethical behavior in the nutrition profession. This certification imparts formal recognition that nutritionists have met rigorous eligibility requirements set by the CBNS.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), dietitians and nutritionists could expect to see a much faster than average job growth of 8%, from 2019-2029. The BLS revealed a median annual salary of $63,090 for these professionals, in May 2020.

With a degree in food science or nutrition it is possible to pursue certification to become a registered dietetic technician or a registered dietitian. Registered dietetic technicians work under registered dietitians and typically have an associate's degree, while registered dietitians have a bachelor's degree and may pursue advanced certification in an area of specialization. There are also certification options for individuals licensed to practice medicine and those who hold advanced degrees and training.

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