How to Become a Licensed Nutritionist in California

Licensed nutritionists oversee the state's school lunch programs.
Licensed nutritionists oversee the state's school lunch programs. (Image: Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images)

Licensed nutritionists, otherwise known as dietitians, council patients to promote healthy eating habits, recommend dietary changes and to plan food and nutritional programs in schools, nursing homes and other facilities. In the state of California, persons representing themselves as registered nutritionists or dietitians are required to meet the state's guidelines as laid out in the state's Business and Professional Code Section 2585-2586.8.

Determine if you are eligible to become a licensed nutritionist in California. Individuals who were granted the right to use the term "registered dietitian" prior to Jan. 1, 1981, are automatically eligible to call themselves licensed nutritionists in California. Otherwise, individuals must be at least 18 years old and in possession of a bachelor's or higher degree in the field of dietetics from a regionally accredited college or university.

Complete at least 900 hours of supervised clinical practice to prepare you for an entry-level position as a licensed nutritionist. Supervised training programs are usually organized through the student's college or university. According to the California Dietetic Association, the educational requirements include biochemistry, physiology, microbiology, food science, nutrition, diet therapy and computer sciences.

Complete a licensing examination from a private or public agency that is recognized by the state of California. One such organization is the Commission on Dietetic Registration, which is the official licensing agency for the American Dietetic Association. A passing score on the examination is required before licensure is granted.

Maintain licensure by successfully completing all continuing education requirements.

Tips & Warnings

  • Make sure you meet the minimum qualifications for the licensure test you intend to take. Although the state of California only requires 900 hours of supervised clinical experience, the American Dietetic Association requires at least 1,200 hours.

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