Dietitian vs. Nutritionist

Are Dietitians and Nutritionist the same?

No. Every Registered Dietitian Is a Nutritionist, but Not Every Nutritionist Is a Registered Dietitian. Many people are self-claimed nutrition experts or nutritionists, however they may not have the proper education qualifications to provide nutrition consultation and other services that an RD can. The title, nutritionist, is not protected by law and is generally used casually by anyone with some nutrition knowledge. On the other hand, the “registered dietitian” title is protected by law and dietitians are accountable for their professional conduct and services to the provincial or national regulatory bodies.

Other Protected Titles

Other than “RD” the titles “Dietitian”, “Professional Dietitian” or P.Dt and D.Pt are approved in Canada, while “Registered Dietitian Nutritionist” or RDN is an approved credential title for an RD in the United States. Registered Dietitian is usually used interchangeably with Registered Dietician in most countries.

Dietitian Technicians, Registered (DTR) are qualified technicians who work in partnership with RDs in most healthcare settings.

Credentials of a Registered Dietitian

A Registered Dietitian has to meet the academic and professional requirements set by the regulatory body of each country, the minimum requirements include:

  • An undergraduate degree from an accredited university, with courses approved by the regulatory body. Typical coursework includes food and nutrition sciences, food service systems management, business, economics, computer sciences, sociology, biochemistry, physiology, microbiology and chemistry.
  • Completion of an approved and accredited two-year supervised practicum at health care facilities, community agencies and foodservice corporations.
  • Registration with the national and provincial regulatory body (such as College of Dietitians of Ontario in Canada or  Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in USA)
  • Passing the national examination for Dietetic Registration.
  • Continual professional education to maintain registration.

Most RDs hold advance degrees and certifications in specialized areas of practice.

College of Dietitians of Ontario:
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: