Essential Information for Becoming a Dietitian
Dietitians use their communication and critical-thinking skills to help patients develop healthy diets by analyzing their dietary needs and creating meal plans while also helping patients manage different kinds of health conditions. Some of the steps required for becoming a dietitian, such as earning the right educational credentials, can be completed online; however, becoming licensed or registered as a dietitian cannot be done online. The chart below shows the required skills for dietitians as well as information about the prospective job growth and median salary.
|Required Skills||Communication (speaking and listening), analytical, and problem-solving skills|
|Job Growth (2018-2028)*||11% (for dietitians and nutritionists)|
|Median Salary (2018)*||$60,370 (for dietitians and nutritionists)|
Source *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Steps to Becoming a Dietitian Online
You will be able to complete a good majority of the steps to becoming a dietitian online, including earning your online degrees. However, the process of becoming registered or licensed as a dietitian at the state level is not a step that can be completed online.
Step 1: Earn an Online Bachelor's Degree
The first step to becoming a dietitian is earning a bachelor's degree. It's recommended that you earn a degree in nutrition, dietetics, public health nutrition, or a related field from a program that is approved by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics, as completing an accredited program is a prerequisite for the Registered Dietician Nutritionist (RDN) credential. There are several types of degrees, such as a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and a Bachelor of Science in Food and Nutrition, among others, that are offered in an online format. Along with online classes on nutrition, food science, and dietetics, you are also required to take courses in chemistry, psychology, and physiology.
Step 2: Earn an Online Master's Degree (Optional)
Next, you may want to earn an online master's degree in nutrition and dietetics. In 2024, the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR), which is the credentialing organization for the field, will require a master's degree as the minimum qualification to take the exam that leads to RDN certification.
There are several types of online master's degree programs in nutrition, including Master of Public Health degrees with concentrations in dietetics and Master of Science degrees in nutrition and dietetics. These types of online programs typically consist of online classes in such subjects as nutrition and diabetes management, pediatric nutrition, nutrition and disease, and weight management. Some of these programs don't have any real-world requirements, so they are able to be completed fully online. Others might include an internship component designed to prepare you for state licensure or registration.
Step 3: Obtain State Licensure (Optional for Some States)
Next, many states, but not all, require that dietitians obtain licensure before they can practice in the profession. While licensure requirements vary by state, usually, you must hold a bachelor's degree in nutrition or a related field, pass an exam, and complete supervised training practice.
Many states base their registration standards on the CDR's Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) credential, which requires a bachelor's degree (a requirement that may change to a master's in 2024), an internship of at least 1,200 hours, and continuing education every five years. By earning the RDN credential, you can meet the licensure standard of many states. Obtaining licensure and the RDN credential, however, are not steps that cannot be completed online.