Becoming a Licensed or Non-Licensed Nutritionist in Maryland

Maryland’s health statisticsMaryland indicate a positive trend for the state’s adolescents when it comes to obesity and weight. From 2005 to 2013, the percentage of Maryland youth who were classified as overweight or obese decreased from 28.7 percent in 2005 to 25.8 percent in 2013. However, during the same time period, the percentage of adolescents who reported that they are actively trying to lose weight rose, from 42.5 percent in 2005 to 44.7 percent in 2013. This indicates a troubling trend, when it is not at all clear if the same adolescents who are overweight or obese are the ones trying to lose weight. 

Nutritionists in Maryland can help youth and adults in making better food choices and encouraging healthier lifestyle activities. Maryland’s licensing laws for nutritionists are fairly restrictive. You must have a license if you intend to provide therapeutic nutrition care in the state. There are some exemptions, however, that do allow non-licensed nutritionists to practice in Maryland. We will look into what licensed and non-licensed nutritionists can do in the state of Maryland, and how to become a nutritionist there, if that is your ambition.

What Training, Experience and Credential do Licensed Nutritionists Need in Maryland?

Maryland law is pretty simple when it comes to which nutritionists may obtain a license. If you want to be a licensed dietitian-nutritionist in Maryland, you must either have a Registered Dietitian credential (link to Becoming a Registered Dietitian in Maryland), or have a CNS (Certified Nutrition Specialist) credential. This is obtained through the American Nutrition Association, and is considered to be the most advanced certification for personalized nutritionists. There are various ways to obtain a CNS credential. The most common pathway for those studying nutrition is the following:

  1. You hold a master’s or doctoral degree in nutrition or another field of clinical healthcare
  2. Your degree is from an Accreditation Council for Nutrition Professional Education (ACNPE)-accredited program, or you have completed 18 credits of nutrition, 12 at the graduate level; 12 credits of clinical or life sciences; 6 credits in biochemistry; 3 credits of anatomy/physiology; and 2 credits of behavioral sciences
  3. You have completed 1000 hours of practice experience, supervised by a BCNS-approved supervisor
  4. You have passed the Certification Examination for Nutrition Specialists
  5. Once certified, you renew your certification yearly, obtaining 75 continuing education credits every five years. 

There are also pathways for those who are already Registered Dietitians and have graduate degrees; as well as for those who hold a MD (Medical Doctor) or DO (Doctor of Osteopathy) degree.

Currently, as of August 2022, one program in Maryland is ANCPE accredited. That is the Master of Science in Nutrition and Integrative Health at Maryland University of Integrative Health, in Laurel. 

How to Become Licensed as a Nutritionist in Maryland

After fulfilling the above requirements, you must complete Maryland’s Application for Licensure as a Dietitian-Nutritionist. (this application can also be completed online). Fill it out in its entirety, have the application notarized, and mail it, the application fee of $300, and any requested supporting documents, to Maryland State Board of Dietetic Practice, 4201 Patterson Ave., Room 312, Baltimore, MD 21215-2299. If you have any questions about the application process call (410) 764-4733. 

Once you are a licensed dietitian-nutritionist in Maryland, you must renew that license every two years. This can also be done online. You must also complete 30 continuing education hours over each licensure period, and document that when you renew your dietitian-nutrition license in Maryland.  

What Can Licensed Nutritionists Do in Maryland?

You might wonder, what can a licensed dietitian-nutritionist do in Maryland that a non-licensed nutritionist cannot? You must have a license in Maryland if you want to provide therapeutic nutrition care. This include setting goals, counseling clients, evaluating nutrient-drug interactions for clients, and assessing the nutritional needs of individuals and groups. Only licensed nutritionists may use the terms “dietitian-nutritionist,” “licensed dietitian-nutritionist,” “nutritionist,” and “licensed nutritionist” to describe themselves in Maryland. 

Education and Certification for Non-Licensed Nutritionists in Maryland

In order to become a licensed nutritionist in Maryland, you need a graduate degree. What if you don’t want to be in school for that long? Can you still work as a non-licensed nutritionist in Maryland, and do you need education or certification to do so?

The answer to that question is yes, you can; and no, you do not need any specific education or certification. It is always helpful to get some education in the field and potentially some certification, as this will help you to find employment much more easily, possibly as a holistic nutritionist or a wellness coach. Some examples of education and certification that prospective non-licensed nutritionists in Maryland may pursue include:

  • NBC-HWC – National Board-Certified Health and Wellness Coach. To earn this credential, you must complete a NBHWC-approved training program and pass an examination.
  • RALC- Board Registered Ayurveda Lifestyle Consultant (RALC) through the Association of Ayurveda Professionals of North America. To earn this credential, you must complete training at a Registered Ayurvedic School and pass an examination.
  • ACN- Applied Clinical Nutrition Certification through Whole Food Practice. To earn this credential, you must complete 100 hours of training and pass an examination. 

What Can Non-Licensed Nutritionists Do in Maryland?

If you do not want to get a graduate degree and become a licensed dietitian-nutritionist in Maryland, you can still legally do certain things without a license. Exemptions in Maryland’s law allow for non-licensed nutritionists to be able to provide nonmedical nutrition services and information to the public while:

  • Working for or operating a weight loss, health or fitness program
  • Working for or operating a health food store
  • Working for or operating a business selling health products, dietary supplements, foods, food materials, or nutritional literature
  • Conducting classes or giving out information on nonmedical nutrition
  • Distributing nutritional literature
  • Providing services that are solely related to the purchasing, preparation and service of food to groups of people

Jobs for Non-Licensed Nutritionists in Maryland

There are plenty of positions available for non-licensed nutritionists in Maryland as of August 2022. Some of them include:

  • Nutrition Program Support, Management Associate – State of Maryland, Baltimore, MD
    • Salary: $42,874-68,061/year
    • Requires: high school diploma/GED
    • Requires: five years of clerical experience 
    • Preferred: one year of experience working with nutrition programs
  • Aging Nutrition Fellow – Baltimore Corps, Baltimore, MD
    • Salary: $45,000/year
    • Requires: basic understanding of food access issues
    • Requires: experience with data tracking and data management
    • Requires: excellent writing and interpersonal skills
  • Nutrition & Weight Loss Coach- High Intensity Interval Protocol and Nutritional Fitness, Bethesda, MD
  • Nutrition Services Supervisor – Medstar Health, Clinton, MD
    • Salary: $44,900-$56,900/year
    • Requires: high school diploma/GED
    • Preferred: associate’s degree
    • Preferred: five years of supervisory experience in acute care environment
    • Preferred: prior experience in food service retail
  • Executive Director of School & Community Nutrition Programs – the State of Maryland, Baltimore, MD
    • Salary: $75,763-$124,086/year
    • Requires: bachelor’s degree in nutrition
    • Requires: five years of experience in administering health or nutrition education program


(Also, take a look at Registered Dietitian in Maryland here).