How Long Does It Take To Become a Nutritionist?

Many people experience health issues that necessitate dietary modifications at various stages in their life. 

A nutritionist can evaluate each circumstance, establish whether a patient has an autoimmune illness, a chronic condition, or food allergies, and then work to improve their health. 

Learning how to become a certified nutritionist could help you start the job that’s perfect for you if you’re interested in using your scientific knowledge to assist people in improving their health and reducing their symptoms. 

In this post, we describe what these experts perform, outline the steps to becoming a certified nutritionist, and respond to frequently asked issues regarding this industry.

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What is a Nutritionist School Like?

It’s not necessarily necessary to have a bachelor’s degree to work as a nutritionist. 

Even yet, a lot of firms prefer to hire nutritionists who have taken the necessary courses and are more inclined to value a candidate who has a degree or board certification. 

Choosing an authorized school is crucial if you want the knowledge to assist future patients. 

Nutrition programs can be accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics. 

Any major is acceptable for the bachelor’s program, however allied subjects like anatomy, biology, biochemistry, or nutrition are advantageous. Nutrition bachelor’s degree programs frequently demand an internship.

Nutritionists must also fulfill state-specific licensing and certification criteria in addition to having a bachelor’s degree, which can vary. 

Exams to determine competency or obtaining and maintaining specialized certifications may be required to become licensed. A few optional certificates are: 

Obtain the Commission on Dietetic Registration’s Registered Dietitian (RD) certification. RDs are capable of working in a variety of fields, such as healthcare, community health, education, research, governmental organizations, and private practice. 

After accumulating 1,000 hours of experience, pursue a master’s or doctoral degree in addition to a bachelor’s degree to become a Certified Nutrition Specialist. This certification is given by the Certification Board of Nutrition Specialists.

A bachelor’s or master’s degree in clinical nutrition is required for a clinical nutritionist credential, along with coursework in aging, nutrition, and herbology. Additionally, you have to succeed on the Clinical Nutrition Certification Board test. 

Obtain a specialist board certification in one of the following areas from the Commission on Dietetic Registration: pediatric, renal, gerontological, pediatric critical care, oncology nutrition, as well as sports dietetics, obesity, and weight management.

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Is Attending a Nutritionist School Worth It?

It is, indeed. Dietitians are qualified to practice after completing supervised training requirements, passing an exam, and graduating from dietetics programs with ACEND accreditation. 

State-by-state variations exist in dietitian licensing and certification standards. 

Registered dietitians can obtain further certifications as specialists in fields like sports dietetics, cancer nutrition, and pediatric nutrition through the Commission on Dietetic Registration. 

While earning a bachelor’s degree in nutrition, some universities provide a program that enables students to work toward a teaching certification. 

Teaching nutrition sciences courses at a college or university necessitates further education.

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What Schooling Do You Need to Become a Nutritionist?

Education, work experience, and licensing are requirements for certification as a nutritionist. Here are the four steps to becoming a qualified nutritionist: 

1. Get an education in nutrition or a related subject. 

Entry-level nutritionists typically hold at least a four-year degree in a discipline relevant to health or nutrition, though you can obtain a certificate to work as a food prep assistant or in another junior position. 

Some people finish a two-year associate’s program in nutrition, acquire work experience in a junior position, and then finish a four-year program. Following are some examples of undergraduate majors that can lead to a job as a nutritionist:

  • Anatomy
  • Biochemistry
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Clinical nutritional care
  • Community nutrition
  • Dietetics
  • Food science
  • Microbiology
  • Nutrition
  • Psychology

Students can learn about food issues, human biology, nutrition, and chemistry in these important programs. Students may be required to take an internship as part of finishing their degree during their four-year undergraduate education.

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2. Obtain the licenses needed in your state. 

Once you’ve earned your degree, you can start working toward the qualifications required by your state to practice. More senior credentials that you can get as you gain experience may qualify you for management or leadership positions. 

The Registered Dietitian and Registered Dietitian Nutritionist qualifications, which satisfy some states’ licensure requirements, are administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration. How to obtain these credentials is as follows: 

  • Finish a program of supervised practice for nutritionists and dietitians. 
  • successfully complete the last test. 
  • Obtain the required continuous education.

3. If necessary, obtain more certifications. 

You can also obtain extra certificates if they are required for your career objectives, such as: 

  • Certified nutritional advisor 

The American Association of Nutritional Consultants’ open-book exam must be passed successfully in order to receive this certification. 

  • Expert in nutrition 

This certification can be obtained by finishing a two-year associate’s degree program or a six-course distance learning program, both of which must be completed before taking and passing a supervised test.

4. Receive a graduate diploma 

Although obtaining an advanced degree is not normally necessary to work as a nutritionist, some nutritionists choose to do so in order to serve as educators and researchers in the subject of nutrition. 

In order to work at large hospitals or governmental organizations, they might also pursue advanced degrees. 

An extra two years of full-time study are needed to earn a master’s degree. 

Graduate programs frequently provide emphases that let you concentrate on a particular area of nutritional research. 

For instance, a nutritionist who wishes to work in senior policy positions for a school district might get a degree in juvenile nutrition or nutrition education.

5. Determine your area of expertise 

You can finish further education and training programs as your work develops to become a certified specialist in nutrition. 

You may qualify for senior-level employment or be able to work as a researcher or nutrition professor if you have expertise in a certain field.

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How Long Does It Take To Become a Licensed Nutritionist in 2023?

A bachelor’s degree, which often takes four years to finish, is the minimum requirement. 

Your overall education time would increase to six years if you choose to pursue a master’s degree in order to be registered by the CDR or certified by the BCNS. 

Otherwise, it will take you about six years to become a nutritionist if you want to get a master’s degree.

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How Much Does It Cost to Become a Licensed Nutritionist?

The cost of an associate’s degree in nutrition ranges from $5,000 to $30,000, and it can be used to train entry-level employees for careers as assistant dietitians or nutritionists. 

For instance, Long Beach City College in Long Beach, California charges $5,500 for a two-year associate’s degree in food and nutrition that includes books, tuition, and fees. 

At the same time, Harper College in Palatine, Illinois, offers a 47-credit associate’s program in dietetics and nutrition for prices ranging from $4,800 to $20,500, depending on residency requirements. 

A bachelor’s degree in health science and dietetics can cost between $14,000 and $80,000 and prepare students for advanced careers in nutrition. It is also a requirement for licensure and graduate study in nutrition.

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Salary and Job Outlook for Nutritionist after Study

According to, entry-level dietitians in the 10th to 90th percentile made between $29,000 and $60,000 annually as of September 2019. In contrast, as of November 2019, the yearly salary range for nutritionists of all levels of expertise was $30,000 to $73,000. 

Your workplace, the kind of nutritionist certification you obtain, and your geographic region are just a few of the variables that may affect your starting pay.

You could work as a nutritional nutritionist for medical practices, nursing homes, outpatient clinics, or hospitals. 

Dietitians and nutritionists employed in hospitals earned an average yearly salary of $62,640 as of May 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) ( 

Dietitians employed in nursing care institutions made an average salary of $60,230 yearly, whereas those employed in outpatient care facilities earned higher average incomes of $66,840.

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As a nutritionist or dietician, you would instruct clients and create dietary regimens to support health and wellbeing using your understanding of how the body responds to various foods. 

Depending on where you work, your specific responsibilities may change. For instance, you could educate customers on how diet affects health generally or work with patients who have dietary restrictions due to diseases like diabetes and obesity. 

To assist patients in receiving the nutrition their bodies require, you could work at a hospital or nursing home or offer private consultations in your own private practice. 

Additionally, you might be able to get employment in a variety of other sectors like government and education.

Frequently Asked Questions 

What guidelines does the state have for a nutritionist? 

Depending on the state, requirements can change. 30 U.S. states, 15 require certification, and one requires registration with the state, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Nutritious practices are not governed in Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, or New Jersey. 

What is the time commitment to become a nutritionist? 

It may take five years or less to become a certified nutritionist, depending on your individual path and timetable. This accounts for the four years needed to earn a bachelor’s degree as well as the extra year needed for an internship. More time will be needed because a master degree might be needed for more advanced certification.

Do I need to have a degree in nutrition specifically? 

State certification bodies often demand that applicants hold a degree in a nutrition-related subject, such as biology or public health. If you currently hold a bachelor’s or associate’s degree in a different field, you could take additional courses to upgrade your credentials. You can find out what kind of degree you need by contacting your state board and asking about the educational requirements.



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