Nutrition and Dietetic Certifications
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is the United States' largest organization of food and nutrition professionals, with close to 72,000 members. After nearly 100 years as the American Dietetic Association (ADA), the organization officially changed its name to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (A.N.D.) in 2012. The organization’s members are primarily registered dietitians (RDs) and dietetic technicians as well as many researchers, educators, students, nurses, physicians, pharmacists, clinical and community dietetics professionals, consultants and food service managers.
The AND certification process offers two career options: Registered Dietitian (RD) and Dietetic Technician, Registered (DTR). Both are educated nutrition professionals qualified to work in hospitals, academia and private practice, and differ mostly in the hours of training and level of college degree required. A Registered Dietitian must complete a bachelor's degree or higher and more than 900 hours of training, while a Dietetic Technician is required to complete and associate level degree and 450 hours of training. About 72% of the AND’s members are Registered Dietitians, and 2% are Dietetic Technicians. Members are granted these accredited titles by fulfilling the AND’s strenuous certification requirements in addition to any state or local regulations. Through its ADAF foundation, the AND issued nearly $500,000 in certification scholarships in 2011, $100,000 of which went to doctoral students.
The terms “Registered Dietitian” and “Dietetic Technician” are “legally protected titles” and can be used only by someone who has completed coursework approved by the AND. In recent years, the AND has lobbied for stricter regulation over the professional licensing of dietitian and nutrition professionals and supported state regulations that would include heavy fines for the dispensing of nutritional advice without the proper license.
AND's Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) is the organization’s accrediting agency for education programs that prepare individuals for careers as dietetics professionals. Prior to 2011, ACEND was known as the Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education (CADE). The Accreditation Council is recognized by the Department of Education and is a member of the Association of Specialized and Professional Accreditors. The council’s fees earn the AND about $1.1 million per year.
Registered Dietitian (RD)
According to the AND, a Registered Dietitian is a “is a food and nutrition expert” who has fulfilled the minimum requirements for the titled RD.
Requirements include the following items:
- Earning a bachelor degree with course work approved by AND’s Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education. Coursework typically includes food and nutrition sciences, foodservice systems management, business, economics, computer science, sociology, biochemistry, physiology, microbiology and chemistry.
- Completing an accredited, supervised practice program at a health-care facility, community agency or foodservice corporation.
- Passing a national examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration.
- Completing continuing professional educational requirements to maintain registration.
- In addition to the costs of the college coursework, the AND charges a $200 application fee for registered dietitians.
- Students must complete a 1,200 hour internship to sit for the Registered Dietitian exam.
Approximately 50% of RDs hold advanced degrees. Some RDs also hold additional certifications in specialized areas of practice, such as pediatric or renal nutrition, nutrition support and diabetes education. In addition to any AND requirements (and often with some overlap), many states have laws for dietitians and nutrition practitioners.
Dietetic Technician, Registered (DTR)
According to the AND, DTRs are “a food and nutrition practitioner” who has fulfilled the minimum requirements for the title DTR.
These requirements, while similar to an RD, differ in that they require:
- A minimum of an Associate's degree.
- At least 450 hours of supervised practice accredited by CADE.
- Successful pass a national DTR examination administered by CDR.
- Complete continuing professional educational requirements to maintain registration.
- DTR’s typically work closely with RD in numerous employment settings such as hospitals, health care facilities, private practice, day care centers, correctional facilities and weight loss centers. The AND application fee to become an DTR is $120.
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