Department of Nutrition

West Chester University

Dr. Jeff Harris, DrPH, MPH, RD, LDN
College of Health Sciences
West Chester University
West Chester, PA 19383


College of Health Sciences
Department of Health
Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics
Registered Dietitian Information Sheet

What Is a Registered Dietitian?
A registered dietitian is a food and nutrition expert who has met the minimum academic and professional requirements to qualify for the credential “RD.” In addition to RD credentialing, many states have regulatory laws for dietitians and nutrition practitioners. State requirements frequently are met through the same education and training required to become an RD.

What Are Educational and Professional Requirements for a Registered Dietitian?
Registered dietitians must meet the following criteria to earn the RD credential:

  • Receive a bachelor’s degree from a U.S. regionally accredited university or college and course work approved by theAccreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics.
  • Complete an ACEND-accredited supervised practice program at a health-care facility, community agency or a foodservice corporation or combined with undergraduate or graduate studies. Typically, a practice program will run six to 12 months in length.
  • Pass a national examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration
  • Complete continuing professional educational requirements to maintain registration.

Some RDs hold additional certifications in specialized areas of practice, such as pediatric or renal nutrition, nutrition support and diabetes education. These certifications are awarded through CDR, the credentialing agency for AND and other medical and nutrition organizations and are recognized within the profession but are not required.

What Do You Study to Become a Registered Dietitian?
Students wishing to become registered dietitians study subjects including food and nutrition sciences, foodservice systems management, business, economics, computer science, culinary arts, sociology, communications, biochemistry, physiology, microbiology, anatomy and chemistry.

Where Do Registered Dietitians Work?
The majority of registered dietitians work in the treatment and prevention of disease (administering medical nutrition therapy, often part of medical teams), in hospitals, HMOs, private practice or other health-care facilities. In addition, a large number of dietitians work in community and public health settings and academia and research. A growing number of registered dietitians work in the food and nutrition industry, in business, journalism, sports nutrition, corporate wellness programs and other non-traditional work settings.
Employment Settings
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of registered dietitians is expected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations through the year 2010 because of increased emphasis on disease prevention, a growing and aging population and public interest in nutrition. Employment in hospitals is expected to show little change because of anticipated slow growth and patients’ reduced lengths of hospital stay. Faster growth is anticipated in nursing homes, residential care facilities and physicians clinics. ADA's most recent survey of members shows RDs work in these settings:


Hospitals (inpatient and acute care)



Clinics and ambulatory care centers


Community and public health programs


Extended care facilities


Consultation (primarily to health-care facilities)


College and university faculty


Other for-profit organizations and industries


Other non-profit organizations


Private practice (primarily to individual clients)


School foodservice (K-12 and college)


Consultation, primarily to other organizations


HMOs, physician and other care providers


Home care



What Is the Salary Range for Registered Dietitians?
As with any profession, salaries and fees vary by region of the country, employment settings, scope of responsibility and supply of RDs. According to AND’s 2002 Dietetics Compensation and Benefits Survey, the median annual income for registered dietitians in the United States who have been working in the field for at least a year is $45,000. Salaries increase with experience. Many RDs, particularly those in private practice, business and consulting earn above $50,000.


Courtesy of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.  For more information, go to: