Select Page

What is the difference between a Dietitian and a Nutritionist? {As answered by Dietetic Intern Erin Castle}

This is a great question as many people do not know there is a  difference! The main difference is the education and training.

Registered Dietitians

  • Earn a bachelor’s degree with coursework approved by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). Coursework typically includes food and nutrition sciences, food service systems management, business, economics, computer science, sociology, biochemistry, physiology, microbiology and chemistry.
  • Complete an accredited, supervised practice program at a health care facility, community agency or food service corporation.
  • Pass a national examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration.
  • Complete continuing professional educational requirements to maintain registration


  • Is a non-accredited title that may apply to somebody who has done a short course in nutrition or who has given themselves this title. The term Nutritionist is not protected by law in almost all countries so people with different levels of and knowledge can call themselves a “Nutritionist”.

Basically the education for Registered Dietitians is more structured and recognized as the nutrition professional training. Dietitians educate only from evidence based practice and research whereas someone not affiliated with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics(AND) could be getting information from other sources. That is why the AND is moving to using the credential Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) to take on the nutritionist title to avoid the confusion and have registered dietitians be the only source of nutrition knowledge.

Check back next week for another post of Ask the RD. Keep the great questions coming!

Do you have a nutrition question that you would like to see posted?Click here to ask a question and I’ll post the answer shortly.



For more information about the qualifications of a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, check out:


%d bloggers like this: