How to become a dietitian in Florida
In this guide, we've assembled all the need-to-know information about becoming a dietitian in the state of Florida.
Dietitians are food and nutrition experts who apply the science of food to help individuals prevent and treat illness and disease. It's a well-documented fact that diet can play a major role in someone's health, but anyone who performs a cursory internet search will see just how many competing ideas there are about the "best" diet, meaning the field is continually evolving.
As people continue to search for ways to maximize wellness and prevent illness before it begins, a career in dietetics can be a rewarding way to help people get and stay healthy with the power of food.
As allied health professionals, dietitians require a proper license or certification in order to practice in most states. The requirements can vary from state to state, however, making the licensure process somewhat complicated depending on where you live and work. In this guide, we've assembled all the need-to-know information about becoming a dietitian in the state of Florida.
Florida dietitian licensure and certification overview
Florida's Dietetics and Nutrition Practice Council, a branch of the Florida Department of Health, is responsible for issuing dietitian licenses within the state. They do not issue separate licenses for dietitians and nutritionists; they simply issue a dual dietitian/nutritionist license. However, it's important to demystify some of the different dietitian credentials out there before looking at a state's specific licensure requirements.
The Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) is a national organization that issues the Registered Dietitian (RD) and Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) credentials. These credentials are the exact same thing, but practitioners have the option of using either name as they see fit. Many states model their licensure requirements after the RD/RDN credential, including Florida. In fact, you must pass the RD/RDN exam in order to qualify for licensure in Florida. In other words, that means you must earn the RD/RDN credential before you can get your state-specific license.
With that in mind, these are the basic requirements to earn a dietitian/nutritionist license in the state of Florida:
- Complete an approved education program
- Complete a pre-professional experience component of at least 900 hours of continuous supervised practice in dietetics or nutrition
- Pass the RD/RDN exam offered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR)
- Pay the appropriate fees associated with your application
The CDR's RD/RDN exam is a computer-based exam administered at authorized Pearson VUE testing centers. The exam varies in length and tests people on four content domains:
|Principles of dietetics||Management of food and nutrition programs and services|
|Nutrition care for individuals and groups||Foodservice systems|
Prospective dietitians seeking to earn their license in Florida must complete the educational requirement. This consists of having a bachelor's degree or higher with a major course of study in human nutrition, food and nutrition, dietetics, food management or an equivalent major from an accredited school or program.
However, these are just the requirements for Florida's Dietetics and Nutrition Practice Council. Keep in mind that dietitians must also pass the CDR's RD/RDN exam, which has its own eligibility requirements. Right now, a bachelor's degree in nutrition or any of the aforementioned subjects is the minimum degree needed to be eligible to take the exam, but that's changing very soon.
As of January 1, 2024, anyone wishing to take the RD/RDN exam must have at least a master's degree to qualify.
The CDR has several eligibility pathways for people to take their RD/RDN exam. Each option will remain the same except for the education requirement, which will change from a bachelor's degree to a master's degree at minimum. The three primary pathways will then be as follows:
The main difference between these different options is the way that the degree programs in question are structured. Some dietetic degree programs have the experience requirement built into the program itself, while others do not. In the case of the first option, for example, students need to complete a Dietetic Internship (DI) to fulfill the experience requirement because a Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) does not already include this. Check out ACEND's website to learn more about each of these options and what exactly they mean.
There are actually several more eligibility options available for special cases and those who were educated outside of the United States (eight total), but the three options listed above are the most common and apply to the most people.
Gaining practical experience
Everyone must have some hands-on, supervised experience in order to become a dietitian/nutritionist in Florida—900 hours total, to be exact. Many education programs have this experience built into the program, often through a dietetic internship experience where the student gets to practice providing clinical nutrition care to patients under the supervision of physicians, licensed dietitians and other health care professionals.
If this experience is not built into their degree program or the student is short on hours, they need to seek out additional experience opportunities before they can earn their license. Dietetic internships may be offered by universities, healthcare organizations, government agencies and more. Some organizations within the state of Florida that offer ACEND-accredited dietetic internships include:
- Florida Department of Health
- Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
- Mayo Clinic
- Bay Pines Veterans Affairs (VA) Healthcare System
- Hebni Nutrition Consultants
Maintaining and renewing your dietitian license in Florida
Florida dietitians/nutritionists must renew their license once every two years on May 31, odd years only. The requirements for renewing are to submit a renewal application, pay the associated fees ($80 in most cases) and report your continuing education (CE).
Dietitians/nutritionists must complete 30 hours of CE every renewal cycle. Of those hours, two hours must be on the subject of medical error. Dietitians/nutritionists renewing their license for the first time have fewer CE requirements, but only for the first renewal.
Licenses not successfully renewed by the deadline go into a delinquent status. They remain in delinquent status for up to two years until the license is reinstated out of delinquency. After two years, they become null and void. The dietitian/nutritionist must reapply for a license if they want to practice again.
Employment opportunities in Florida
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that the employment of dietitians and nutritionists nationwide is expected to grow 6.6% through 2032, faster than average across all occupations. As the public and healthcare community's interest in nutrition as preventative care continues to grow, so should the opportunities for dietitians and other nutrition professionals to find work. Florida is home to a large senior population, which means dietitians and nutritionists in the state may have more opportunities working in nursing care facilities or hospitals, which is the largest employer of dietitians and nutritionists nationwide.
Becoming a dietitian in the state of Florida all begins with the right education. Although the state's Dietetics and Nutrition Practice Council only requires a bachelor's degree in dietetics or a related subject to qualify for licensure, the CDR's RD/RDN exam—which is also required for licensure—will require applicants to have a master's degree beginning in 2024.
The job outlook for dietitians and nutritionists in the state of Florida is bright, making it an excellent location to kick off a rewarding career in dietetics. Start searching for programs today to take the first step toward your future.
To find more information about obtaining a dietitian/nutritionist license in Florida and learn about different organizations that may be relevant to a dietitian's practice, check out the following resources:
- Florida's Dietetics and Nutrition Practice Council is a branch of the Florida Department of Health and is responsible for setting the licensure standards for Florida dietitians.
- The Florida Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (FAND), an affiliate of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, is the state's largest association of dietetic and nutrition professionals.
- The North Florida Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (NFAND) is the district of the FAND serving Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Clay, Columbia, Dixie, Duval, Flagler, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Lafayette, Nassau, Putnam, St. Johns and Suwannee counties.
- The Central Florida Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (CFAND) is the district of the FAND serving Orlando, Space Coast, and Treasure Coast areas including Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Lake, Polk, Brevard, Volusia, Hardee, Highlands, Glades, Okeechobee, Indian River, St. Lucie and Martin counties.
- The South Florida Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (SFAND) is the district of the FAND serving Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe counties.
- The Suncoast Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (SAND) is the district of the FAND serving the Gulf Coast counties.
- The Florida School Nutrition Association (FSNA) is a membership organization devoted to the advancement of child nutrition programs within the state.
Published: November 14, 2023
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