Dietitians and nutritionists do similar work. However, because of their more thorough training, dietitians are health professionals who can diagnose and treat nutrition-related illnesses. Nutritionists need little to no certification, depending on the state, thus they usually focus on prevention rather than disease management. Because these two professions have such a broad range of education and license requirements, it’s important to understand the differences if you wish to pursue one of them.
A dietitian is a healthcare professional who has completed at least four years of schooling. A Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics, or an undergraduate science degree combined with a Master of Nutrition and Dietetics, is required to work as a dietitian. A Ph.D. is also pursued by certain dietitians. Nutritionists lack widely recognized educational requirements due to their federally unregulated position, although many earn degrees in human nutrition, food science, food, and nutrition, or food technology. Some states do not have any criteria for nutritionists, while others require licenses with specific academic requirements.
You must complete 1200 hours of supervised internship or practical training and pass a test given by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to become a Registered Dietitian in the United States. To stay licensed as a dietician, you must continue your education once you have been registered. Except for three states (Arizona, New Jersey, and Colorado), each state has its own license requirements, so verify your local laws. If a license is available for nutritionists, the requirements for licensing differ by state. Because certain states prohibit anyone other than a licensed dietitian from providing nutrition counseling, nutritionists must follow the same licensing requirements as dietitians.
Type of Work
Dietitians often work in the medical sector, diagnosing and treating dietary diseases and allergies, as well as helping in the formulation of preventative care diet programs. Dietitians also perform a lot of community outreach and education, educating nutrition to the general public as well as other health professionals. Food scientists are nutritionists who have earned a bachelor’s degree and work for food producers or research institutions. Individual practitioners may refer to themselves as holistic nutritionists and, in states where it is allowed, offer preventive medical advice to their customers.
The salary difference between dietitians and nutritionists is unclear since the two professions are so similar that their salaries are reported jointly. Dietitians and nutritionists earned an average annual income of $57,440 in May 2014, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, although licensed dietitians may make $60,000 or more. California, Nevada, Maryland, New Jersey, and Connecticut are the highest-paying states. Although the BLS does not separately report salary statistics for nutritionists, the figures indicate that dietitians earn somewhat more.
2020 Salary Information for Dietitians and Nutritionists
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, dietitians and nutritionists earned a median annual income of $63,090 in 2020. The bottom 10% of earners made less than $39,840, while the top 10% earned more than $90,000. In 2020, the U.S. employed 73,000 people as dietitians and nutritionists.