Registration and Licensure in the United States

The terms nutritionist and dietitian are sometimes used interchangeably. In most cases a nutritionist, or nutrition educator, works in a community or health-promotion setting, while a dietitian works in a clinical setting. In international health and nutrition programs, the term nutritionist is generally used, and training, activities, and levels of responsibility can vary greatly. However, some U.S. states have licensure laws that define the requirements and scope of practice for a nutritionist. Persons who wish to practice in these states must meet the eligibility requirements to obtain a license.

Dietitians in the United States are credentialed by the profession's accrediting body, the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) of the American Dietetic Association (ADA), as registered dietitians (RDs). Dietetic technicians, who assist in program service and delivery, are credentialed as dietetic technicians, registered (DTR). In some settings, such as long-term care facilities, DTRs may be responsible for day-to-day operations, with guidance from a consulting dietitian. see also American Dietetic Association; Dietetic Technician, Registered (DTR); Dietitian; Nutritionist.

Judith C. Rodriguez


Barker, A. M.; Arensberg, M. B. F.; and Schiller, M. R. (1994). Leadership in Dietetics. Chicago: American Dietetic Association.

Boyle, Marie A., and Morris, Diane H. (1999). Community Nutrition in Action. New York: Wadsworth Publishing.

Chmelynski, Carol Ciprione. (2000). Opportunities in Food Service Careers. Chicago: VGM Career Horizons NTC/Contemporary Publishing.

Donovan, Mary D. (1998). Opportunities in Culinary Careers. Chicago: VGM Career Horizons NTC/Contemporary Publishing.

Ullrich, Helen D. (1992). The SNE Story: 25 Years of Advancing Nutrition Education. Berkeley, CA: Nutrition Communication Associates.

Internet Resources

American Dietetic Association. "Check It Out: Careers in Dietetics." Available from <>

U.S. Department of Labor. "Occupational Outlook Handbook, Dietitians and Nutritionists." Available from <>

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