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Dietitian License Requirements: How to Become a Licensed Dietitian in Alabama

The Alabama State Board of Examiners for Dietetics/Nutritionists is the regulatory body for both dietitians and nutritionists. Professionals in these fields must be licensed unless they fall under exception categories outlined in state code (http://www.boed.alabama.gov/rules.aspx). Licensure is based on education, examination, and supervised practice. Licensees must have education at at least the baccalaureate level. State code mandates good character. Licensees adhere to the ethics code of the American Dietetic Association as well as to Alabama rules and regulations.

By meeting requirements in Alabama, a professional can also meet the national certification requirements of the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR). Prospective students should be aware that current certification standards may be higher than those set down in Alabama code. Alabama license renewal is based on continuing education, not national certification. However, there can be advantages to maintaining national certification, especially if one may relocate and practice dietetics in a state other than Alabama.

Select an Alabama Licensed Dietitian Topic:

Educational Standards

The prospective Alabama dietician/ nutritionist may pursue a degree at the bachelor’s or master’s level. U.S. programs are to be housed in programs accredited by regional accrediting agencies such as the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges. International degrees can be accepted if equivalent.

The following bachelor’s degrees may be accepted:

  • Dietetics
  • Foods and nutrition
  • Human nutrition
  • Food system management

The Board can also accept a graduate degree in human nutrition, nutrition education, or a related field.

Prospective dieticians will want to visit the CDR website to see certification requirements for Registered Dieticians/ Registered Dietitian Nutritionists; these may be more specific with regards to education. The CDR has provisions for students who complete international programs.

Alabama requires 900 hours of planned pre-professional experience, carried out under supervision – this is slightly less than what is dictated by current CDR internship/ coordinated program standards. The qualifying experience may take any of several forms, including internship and Approved Practice Program. Not all programs that offer the didactic portion of the dietetics program offer internships. However, there are additional options, including an accredited internship program offered by the Alabama Department of Education. The Department of Education internship emphasizes child nutrition. Prospective dietitians go through a matching process to secure internships. This is not the case with all forms of pre-professional experience.

Prospective students may begin their program search by visiting the website of the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics, a national accrediting agency that operates under the banner of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (http://www.eatrightacend.org/ACEND). Alabama has many accredited programs. As of 2016, the directory shows eight didactic programs and two coordinated programs; the latter incorporate supervised pre-professional experience. A prospective student can limit his or her search to show only distance learning programs or only programs that have credit transfer agreements. The Alabama Dietetic Association, an affiliate of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, can provide basic information about Alabama programs, including a summation of the pre-professional opportunities that they offer.

The prospective licensee will need to pass an examination offered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration. The examination is selected response. Examination information can be found on the website of the Commission on Dietitian Registration (https://www.cdrnet.org).

An individual may receive a temporary permit from the Alabama State Board before all requirements have been met.

National Registration

Dieticians who are already registered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration are considered to have met education, examination, and practice requirements. The Alabama Dietetic Association has outlined steps to become a Registered Dietician, or RD (http://www.eatrightalabama.org/students). Additional information can be found on the CDR website.

National registration alone, the Board cautions, does not give a person the authority to practice in Alabama. Nor do licenses issued by other state boards.

Out-of-State Applicants

Applicants who have held dietetics/ nutritionist licenses must provide license verification to the Alabama Board; the application packet includes a form to be used for this purpose. Licensees from other states may be licensed by reciprocity if they have met requirements at least on a par with those of Alabama.

The Application Process

Applications are found on the Board website (http://www.boed.alabama.gov/applications.aspx). Dieticians and nutritionists use the same application form. The Board will require two references; references will address the applicant’s qualifications in writing. The applicant will provide information about his or her employment.

The application fee is $100. There is a separate licensing fee which may be prorated depending on the stage of the renewal cycle. Applications require notarization. The applicant will include a copy of a photo ID.

The applicant may present a card from the Commission on Dietetic Registration to show that all requirements have been met. Otherwise, the Board will issue a temporary permit. An individual applying for a temporary permit will need verification from the program director. The temporary permit is for “RD eligible” candidates – those that will be eligible to sit for the required examination.

Renewal Requirements

Licenses are renewed every two years. Currently, all licenses have autumn expiration dates. Licensees are responsible for completing at least 30 hours of continuing education during each two-year renewal cycle. A variety of professional development activities can be accepted. The Board has provided a document that describes continuing education guidelines in detail (http://www.boed.alabama.gov/applications.aspx).

Additional Information

Information is available from the Alabama State Board of Examiners for Dietetics/Nutritionists (http://www.boed.alabama.gov/default.aspx). The Board can be reached by telephone at (334) 242-4505.

The Alabama Dietetic Association is an additional resource (http://www.eatrightalabama.org/). The Alabama Dietetic Association offers a mentorship program.