Choosing the right career path between a Clinical Nutritionist (CN) and a Dietician can seem daunting without the correct information. It’s common to see clinical nutritionists and dieticians used interchangeably when someone is referring to a nutrition specialist. Both career paths seem similar, but a few distinct differences can help you decide which career is right for you.
Credentials to Become a Clinical Nutritionist
Academic requirements for a clinical or medical nutritionist vary from state to state. Some states require a CN to have a bachelor’s degree in nutrition or a master’s in nutrition or public health. Other states only require certification in nutrition plus statutory credentials.
Additionally, CNs has to earn a Certified Nutrition Specialty (CNP) credential to become a legal medical nutritionist. The course includes 1000 hours of supervised practice experience and passing an examination before being allowed to practice as a clinical nutritionist.
Students can opt for online nutrition courses to earn the credentials necessary to start their careers. Career paths of CNs include college training, research, patient care in outpatient settings, local health departments, and in school districts making policies for school nutrition standards.
Credentials to Become a Dietician
Before becoming legal dieticians, dieticians have to take more exams and start working with patients. First, you must complete a bachelor’s degree in science, public health nutrition, dietetics, or clinical nutrition at an institution accredited by Accreditation Council or Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND).
Find a degree that allows you to earn a verification statement from a Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD). Students must complete 900-1,200 supervised internships that focus on various dietetic studies. Students can undertake internships alongside or after a bachelor’s or master’s degree program.
After completion, students have to take the Commission of Dietetic Registration (CDR) exam and pass it. The minimum academic requirement to sit for the exam by 2024 will be a graduate degree. Some states may require dieticians to get specific licenses before becoming legal dieticians.
Significant Differences in Both Careers
The two significant differences between a career as a CN and a dietician are credentials and the areas of practice. Before undertaking exams from various accredited bodies, dieticians must earn an undergraduate degree. Some states allow Clinical nutritionists to do ACEND certification programs before registration exams.
Clinical nutritionists offer advice on general nutrition and diets to lead a healthy lifestyle. Nutritionists can prepare meal plans for individuals or communities. Dieticians go further and diagnose eating disorders and counsel individuals, known as medical nutrition therapy. A meal plan from a dietician considers allergies, eating habits, medication, religious beliefs, medical conditions, and a person’s dietary needs.
Take an Online Nutrition Course Today
If you have difficulty choosing between a dietician or a clinical nutritionist, start by applying for an online nutrition course. You can choose between both careers if you have a Bachelor’s or Masters in nutrition. Ultimately, pursue a career as a nutritionist if you love educating people on healthy meals and fools, or opt to be a dietician if you wish to work with individuals with unique dietary needs.