Registered dietitians (RDs) are medical professionals with expertise in the areas of food and nutrition. They work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, restaurants, schools, private clinics, research facilities, and many many others. To become a RD, you must first complete the following steps.
1. Complete a Bachelor’s Degree in nutrition at a CADE-accredited college or university. CADE is the Commission on Accreditation for Dietetic Education, and they are responsible for accrediting the nutrition programs at colleges and universities around the country. You must complete a CADE-accredited undergraduate program to be eligible for the dietetic internship, which is the next step in becoming a registered dietitian.
Some colleges have nutrition programs that are not CADE-accredited and therefore not suitable for aspiring RDs. You can find a complete list of CADE-accredited programs at EatRight.org, the official website of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly known as the American Dietetic Association–the professional organization of registered dietitians).
2. Complete a CADE-approved dietetic internship. After earning a Bachelor’s degree, you must complete a supervised internship that is also CADE-accredited. This internship provides you with the “hands-on” experience you will need to succeed in entry-level RD positions. Most internships include graduate-level classes, so you may also choose to complete a Master’s Degree at this point.
3. Pass the RD Exam. After successful completion of the dietetic internship, you will be required to take a comprehensive exam called the RD Exam. It will test your knowledge on a variety of nutrition-related topics, including food-service management, biochemistry, sustainability, community, and research–among others.
If you pass this exam, after years of hard work and effort, you are finally a registered dietitian! From this point you can become licensed in your state and start working, as well as complete your graduate education. Much more information on becoming a registered dietitian can be found at EatRight.org.