Dietitian vs Nutritionist | What’s the Difference?

Dietitian vs Nutritionist – Overview

When it comes to health, you must choose the right person who can give you the best advice. Health professionals help us live healthily by eliminating unhealthy foods from our daily diet. You need to seek help from a nutrition expert to deal with your health problems.

Nutrition experts can be categorized into two, a dietitian and a nutritionist. Dietitians and Nutritionists serve in the same field, but these professions differ in many ways.

Modern lifestyle requires modern solutions. For example, people with busy schedules often forget to eat on time, they rely on fast food, which is unhealthy. One must focus on the right diet to live a healthy life, and a healthcare professional can help them.

The Dietitian vs Nutritionist blog will help you differentiate between these two healthcare professionals.

Difference Between Dietitians and Nutritionists


A dietitian is an expert who helps us plan our daily diet to overcome health issues. A dietitian prepares a diet plan to manage the diseases after checking the health condition. A registered dietitian can work in different areas such as hospitals, organizations, own clinics, etc.

To become a registered dietitian, one has to complete the following educational qualifications.

A Bachelor’s Degree takes four years with approved coursework by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics.

An internship of 1200 hours or more under the supervision of a registered dietitian at an accredited healthcare facility. It can also be done at a food service corporation or community agency as per availability.

Passing a national exam administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration.

After achieving the registration certificate, a dietitian must complete the yearly examination to manage their license.

Department of Work

A registered dietitian can work in different areas as per his knowledge and experience. For example, as a healthcare professional, he can work at a hospital along with other healthcare staff to look after the diet of the patients. They can work in any healthcare facility to manage the nutrition intake of the patient.

Besides fieldwork, they can also work as a teacher in schools and universities where they teach about public health issues, nutritional values in foods, etc. to students.


Nutritionists are a more common term in the United States, where the type of person who provides nutritional advice is called a nutritionist. Nutritionists don’t require certification as anyone with proper knowledge about nutrients can call themselves a nutritionist. They can work independently to help others live healthy lives.

Nutritionists are fewer professionals than dietitians. As a result, dietitians can regulate patients’ health by switching to a new diet plan. On the other hand, nutritionists guide them about the nutritional values of the type of foods they eat.

Nutritionists work at schools, colleges, universities, organizations, and healthcare facilities, unlike dietitians.

Those who want to become recognized in nutrition must pass out an exam and have advanced degrees. The exam to become a Certified Nutrition Specialist is administered by the Nutritionist Certification Board. Generally, sports nutritionists require such educational qualifications as they have to work with other professionals.

Moreover, candidates must have completed the Master’s Degree in Nutrition along with 1000 hours of internship supervised by a registered nutritionist. If the candidate has these qualifications, he will only be allowed for the examination to obtain the title of Certified Nutrition Specialist. The Certification Board administers the exam for Nutrition Specialists.

To give you more insights, here we have prepared a table that briefly describes the differences between Dietitians and Nutritionists.

Dietitian vs Nutritionist

Most people believe that dietitians and nutritionists are the same. However, you will find some differences between these two professions when you dig deeper.

Dietitian vs Nutritionist

Dietitian vs Nutritionist – What are the differences?

To call yourself a registered dietitian, you need to meet the educational qualifications set by the board. Once you complete the education and internship programs, you will be asked to pass out the examination. That’s why dietitians are regulated as they have achieved degrees and passed out the examination.

If we talk about the law, nutritionists don’t have to pass out the examination or complete an educational qualification to call themselves a nutritionist. It is not regulated. People need to find out whether the nutritionist is qualified or not.

Qualified nutritionists must have to obtain the degrees and other certifications just like the registered dietitian. Many countries have introduced a new term for qualified nutritionists as Reregistered Nutritionist.

The Bottom Line:

Registered dietitians provide nutritional information to sick people who are suffering from a specific health condition. Dietitians can work independently or under healthcare facilities as per their experience and qualification background.

In general, a physician or a nurse would refer patients to visit the dietitian for further treatments as the treatment is all about food intake and nutritional values. Most diseases can be managed by switching to a different diet than the regular ones and a registered dietitian is there to help us prepare a diet plan for managing the disease.

On the other hand, nutritionists don’t have proper qualifications as the US law introduces no term for nutritionists. Nutritionists are healthcare providers with deep knowledge about nutritional values in foods, beverages, and other eatables.

Anyone can become a nutritionist, but to become a registered dietitian, you must meet the criteria set by US Law.