How Do You Become a Registered Dietician?

Registered Dietician, or RDs, help people make meal plans to meet their goals. Those goals could be weight loss, diabetes management, fitness or health-related. It takes a few years of education, internship and testing to become an RD.

Resource: Top 20 Online Master's in Nutrition 2016-2017


To become an RD, you'll need to meet the minimum educational requirements to be prepared for the next steps. It takes more than education to become an RD. The coursework for this career should be approved by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition. The classes will be heavily entrenched in science, nutrition and biochemistry. The nutrition courses alone will cover food science and disease management. RDs work with patients and clients, so the classes have to include counseling strategies too. To become an RD, you need to complete 4 years of school to graduate with a bachelor's degree.


Once you have completed the coursework required for your degree, you still need to spend 6 months to 1 year interning with an ACEND-accredited practice. Graduates need to be supervised for this length of time before they will receive a verification statement from their internship program. You could be matched to a clinical, food service or community agency that will assign you a supervisor to gain your internship time and verification statement to take the exam.

Pass the Exam

The Commission on Dietetic Registration is given the letter of verification that states you have done your required hours of internship. This is absolutely required before you can sit for the exam. There's an examination fee to be paid before you can take the exam. The exam varies in length. The maximum number of questions is one hundred and thirty. There can be up to one-hundred scored questions and thirty pre-test questions that aren't scored. There are hundreds of testing locations across the U.S. for the examination. The appointments for the exam last for 3 hours with part of the time taken up with tutorials and the survey at the end. If all the questions aren't answered in the time limit, the exam is considered a failure.


Across the U.S., there are forty-six states that have legislation regarding dietetics. This is a separate process from the exam itself. You'll have to learn the correct licensing requirements for your specific state. If you try to practice without a license or certificate, you could end up breaking the law. The Commission of Dietetic Registration has a list of the proper agencies you'll have to contact to receive your license. If you move from one state to another, you have to hold a license for the state you want to work. They don't get transferred when you move.

Continuing Education

RDs are required to keep their certifications current, which means continued education in their field. The CDR has a professional development portfolio that guides the RD in their learning and activity logs. There's a flash presentation that helps to explain their guide.

To become a Registered Dietician takes years of education as well as time spent as an intern in a real-world environment. All that has to be completed before you're able to sit for the examination that will grant you the title of RD.

Find A Degree is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.