What Is The Difference Between A Nutritionist And A Dietician?

What Is The Difference Between A Nutritionist And A Dietician?

Dietitian and nutritionist are two terms that are frequently used interchangeably. Dietitians and nutritionists are food and diet experts who help people maintain their health and prevent or treat ailments. Despite their obvious similarities, these two jobs have distinct qualities.

Dietitians and nutritionists are two types of nutrition experts who have studied the impact of diet and dietary supplements on health. Despite the fact that they are both healthcare providers, the terms should not be used interchangeably. There are much more regulations in place for people who want to call themselves “registered dietitians” rather than “nutritionists,” for example. The people who pursue these two vocations have one thing in common: they are passionate about using their knowledge of food and diet to help their customers improve their overall health.

Let’s take a look at the many credentials that a dietitian or nutritionist may possess.

What Is A Registered Dietician?

A dietitian is a professional who specializes in dietetics, or the study of food and its effects on health. In response to a medical condition or personal goals, a dietitian will usually work with a client to change their diet.

In the United States and many other countries, a dietitian is a board-certified food and nutrition specialist. They have graduate degrees in nutrition and dietetics, which is the study of food, nutrition, and the consequences of these factors on human health.

Dietitians receive extensive training in order to provide evidence-based medical nutrition therapy and nutritional counseling tailored to an individual’s needs.

Hospitals, outpatient clinics, research groups, and local communities, to name a few, are all places where they can work.

What Is The Difference Between A Nutritionist And A Dietician?

Education And Licensing Requirements

To obtain the credentials of Registered Dietitian (RD) or Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, a person must meet the standards set forth by governing bodies such as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) in the United States or the Dietitians Association of Australia (RDN)

People in some countries can also earn the title of “registered nutritionist,” which is comparable to “registered dietitian” and requires regulatory approval.

These are the professional bodies in charge of dietetics in their respective countries.

For the avoidance of doubt, the terms RD and RDN are synonymous. The RDN, on the other hand, is a newer designation. Dietitians can choose between the two credentials.

In order to get these certifications, dietitians-in-training must first complete a bachelor’s degree or equivalent credits from a recognized university or college program.

A bachelor’s degree in science is normally required, with courses in biology, microbiology, organic and inorganic chemistry, biochemistry, anatomy, and physiology, as well as additional specialized nutrition coursework.

All dietetics students in the United States must obtain a master’s degree by January 1, 2024, to be eligible for the RD board exam.

In addition to formal schooling, all dietetics students in the United States must apply for and be paired with a competitive internship program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Coursework in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND).

In other countries, internships of a similar sort may be required.

Internships often expose students to 900–1,200 unpaid supervised practice hours throughout all four domains of practice, with in-depth projects and case studies supplementing those hours.

Before finishing the internship, the student is usually required to pass an exit exam that covers the same material as the board exam. If they meet these conditions, they will be qualified to sit for a board exam.

Finally, a dietitian student who passes their country’s national board exam can apply to become a registered dietitian.

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Licensing Requirements

Dietician credentials require national board certification.

In addition, 13 states, including Rhode Island, Alabama, and Nebraska, require dietitians to be licensed. The remaining states either do not regulate this occupation or do not offer state certification or optional licensure.

The licensing process may include additional criteria, such as passing a jurisprudence exam. This is to ensure that dietitians adhere to a code of ethics in order to safeguard the public’s health and safety.

Dietitians must also continue their education to keep current in an ever-changing field.

What Is The Difference Between A Nutritionist And A Dietician?

What Is A Nutritionist?

Although their educational background is quite similar to that of a dietitian, their title may be translated as “nutritionist” rather than “dietitian” in other countries.

The term “nutritionist” can refer to someone having a wide range of nutrition credentials and training in the United States.

In more than a dozen states, a person must complete certain standards before calling themselves a nutritionist. Certified Nutrition Specialist is one of the titles conferred by accredited credentials (CNS).

Most states enable those who receive these credentials to practice medical nutrition therapy and other aspects of nutrition care.

In several places, such as Alaska, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania, RDs and CNSs are granted the same state license, known as a Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist (LDN) license.

In states where the term is not regulated, anyone interested in diet or nutrition can call oneself a nutritionist. These individuals could put their love for nutrition to good use by starting a food blog or working with clients.

Due to their lack of expertise and training in medical nutrition therapy and nutrition counseling, following the advice of uncredentialed nutritionists could be dangerous.

Check to see if your state has any limits on who can utilize this designation before contacting a nutritionist.

Degrees And Credentials Required

In states that do not regulate the phrase, a nutritionist does not need a degree or credentials. All you need is a curiosity about the subject.

In states that require licensure, the CNS or RD certificate may be required.

CNS credential holders are advanced-degreed health professionals who have completed additional coursework, supervised practice hours, and passed a Board for Certification of Nutrition Specialists exam.

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Nutritional Experts

The Clinical Nutrition Certification Board is another organization that offers certification for the title of a certified clinical nutritionist (CCN). Other nutritionists, such as health coaches and holistic nutritionists, do not require as much education. To become a health coach, the American Council on Exercise or another approved authority may just require a few weeks of training.

What Is The Difference Between A Nutritionist And A Dietician?

Holistic nutritionists that specialize in functional nutrition must complete a course approved by the National Association of Nutrition Professionals, followed by 500 hours of practical practice, before sitting for a certification exam provided by the Holistic Nutrition Credentialing Board.

The requirements for licensure can range from state to state. Only registered dietitians are allowed to practice in some places, while nutritionists who have been certified by one of the boards listed above are allowed to practice in others.

Take Away

Dietitians and CNSs are qualified, board-certified food and nutrition experts with extensive training and education.

Depending on where they work, dietitians and nutritionists, such as CNSs, may need to meet extra credentials.

Hospitals, academic institutions, and foodservice management, to name a few, are all places where dietitians and CNSs can operate. Some work with specialized groups of people, such as children, athletes, cancer patients, and those who have eating disorders.

In the meanwhile, certain states in the United States regulate the term “nutritionist,” while others do not. As a result, in many places, anyone can call themselves a nutritionist.

Though it’s easy to mix up these designations, keep in mind that experts with the titles “RD” or “CNS” have advanced degrees in nutrition.


Rahul aims to cover the latest trends in the entertainment industry with his own unique perspective thrown in for a good measure. He loves dogs and reading about topics ranging from sports to science and technology. Rahul has a master's degree in exercise science and holds NSCA CSCS and CISSN certification

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