Becoming a Licensed or Non-Licensed Nutritionist in Rhode Island

The Rhode Island Board of Dietetics Practice requires all dietitian/nutritionists in the state to be licensed. Their definition of dietitian/nutritionist is a dietitian and/or nutritionist who is engaged in the practice of dietetics.  Licensure requirements for dietitian/nutritionists involve fulfilling the criteria of the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) that allows you to become a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN). If you want to be a licensed nutritionist in Rhode Island, therefore, you’d follow the steps outlined here (Becoming a Registered Dietitian in Rhode Island)

Just because licensed nutritionists are the same as licensed dietitians in Rhode Island, that does not mean that unlicensed nutritionists cannot practice there. There exists a law defining unlicensed health care practices that allows non-licensed nutritionists to work in Rhode Island. We will further examine how you may become a non-licensed nutritionist in Rhode Island in this article.

Licensed Nutritionist in Rhode Island – Licensed, Registered Dietitian

As mentioned above, a licensed nutritionist in Rhode Island is the same as a licensed, registered dietitian. You must fulfill the requirements of the CDR as far as getting a bachelor’s degree, minimum (this requirement is changing to a master’s degree as of January 1, 2024), completing 1000 hours of supervised dietetic practice, and passing the Registration Examination for Dietitians. See this link for a complete explanation of becoming a licensed, registered dietitian in Rhode Island.

eeYou must then complete the Rhode Island Board of Dietetics Practice Application for License as a Dietitian/Nutritionist. Submit it, all requested documentation, and a fee of $75 to Rhode Island Board of Dietetics Practice, Room 104, 3 Capitol Hill, Providence, RI 02908-5097.

What is Rhode Island’s Unlicensed Health Care Practices Law?

The law that allows Rhode Island non-licensed nutritionists to legally work is the Unlicensed Health Care Practices Law. It defines unlicensed health care practices as the broad domain of unlicensed healing methods and techniques, including, but not limited to:

  • Acupressure
  • Alexander technique
  • Aromatherapy
  • Ayurveda
  • Body work
  • Cranial sacral therapy
  • Crystal therapy
  • Detoxification practices and therapies
  • Energetic healing 
  • Gerson therapy and colostrum therapy
  • Herbology/herbalism
  • Homeopathy 
  • Mind-body healing practices
  • Naturopathy
  • Nondiagnostic iridology
  • Polarity therapy
  • Qi Gong energy healing
  • Reiki
  • Therapeutic touch

What Are Rhode Island Non-Licensed Nutritionists Prohibited From Doing?

Rhode Island’s unlicensed health care practitioners (including nutritionists) may not prescribe, administer or dispense drugs and controlled substances, practices that invade the body by puncturing the skin, set fractures, manipulate joints, practice dentistry, or manipulate the spine. Unlicensed nutritionists also may not provide a medical diagnosis. 

Unlicensed nutritionists in Rhode Island may not practice medical nutrition therapy.

Unlicensed nutritionists may not refer to themselves as licensed dietitian nutritionists, either.

What Can, and Must, Non-Licensed Nutritionists Do in Rhode Island?

Under the Rhode Island Unlicensed Health Care Practices Law, unlicensed nutritionists can

  • Market or distribute food products, including dietary products
  • Educate customers about those products
  • Explain the use of those products

Additionally, all unlicensed nutritionists in Rhode Island must provide to each client a written copy of the “unlicensed health care client bill of rights,” and post the same within their place of business. This bill of rights must include:

  • The unlicensed nutritionist’s name, title, business address and telephone number
  • The unlicensed nutritionist’s degrees, training, experience or other qualifications, followed by this exact statement in bold: “The state of Rhode Island has not adopted any educational and training standards for unlicensed health care practitioners. This statement of credentials is for information purposes only.

Under Rhode Island law, an unlicensed health care practitioner may not provide a medical diagnosis. If a client desires a diagnosis from a licensed physician, chiropractor, or acupuncture practitioner, or services from a physician, chiropractor, nurse, osteopath, physical therapist, dietician, nutritionist, acupuncture practitioner, athletic trainer, or any other type of health care provider, the client may seek such services at any time.”

  • The name, business address and telephone number of the unlicensed nutritionist’s supervisor (if any)
  • A notice that an unlicensed health care client has the right to file a complaint with that supervisor, and the complaint-filing procedure
  • The name, address and telephone number of the department in which a client may file complaints
  • The unlicensed nutritionist’s fees per unit of service, method of billing for fees, names of insurance companies that reimburse the nutritionist or HMOs the nutritionist works with, whether the nutritionist accepts Medicare, medical assistance, or general assistance medical care, and whether the nutritionist will accept partial payment or waive payment and if so, under what circumstances
  • A statement that a client has a right to reasonable notice of changes in services or charges
  • A summary of the unlicensed nutritionist’s theoretical approach in providing services to clients
  • A notice that the client has the right to complete, current information about the unlicensed nutritionist’s assessment and recommended services, including the expected duration of the services
  • A statement that clients may expect to be free from verbal, physical, or sexual abuse by the unlicensed nutritionist
  • A statement that client records and transactions with the unlicensed nutritionist are confidential unless release is authorized by the client or provided by law
  • A statement that the client has the right to access their records and written information
  • A statement that the client has the right to choose from among available nutritionists and to switch nutritionists after services have begun
  • A statement that the client has the right to a coordinated transfer if they do change nutritionists
  • A statement that the client may refuse services or treatment
  • A statement that the client may assert their rights without retaliation
  • An acknowledgement signed by the client attesting that the client has received the unlicensed health care client bill of rights.

Jobs for Non-Licensed Nutritionists in Rhode Island

You cannot refer to yourself as a nutritionist, not even an unlicensed nutritionist, in Rhode Island if you do not have a license, but you should still find employment fairly easily. Some examples of recent job openings in nutrition that do not require a license include:

  • Dietary Manager – Apple Rehab Clipper, Westerly

    • Salary: $62,000 annually
    • Associate or higher degree in food service management required or must hold Certified Dietary Manager or Certified Food Service Manager credentials
    • Serv Safe Manager certification required

  • Nutrition Counselor – Medi-Weightloss, Warwick

    • Salary: $16-$18 hourly
    • Should have degree or certificate in nutrition, exercise or health coaching
    • Need one year of medical setting experience
    • Weight loss coaching experience preferred

  • Guest Services Representative/Diet Technician – South County Hospital, Wakefield

    • Salary: $33,400-$42,200 annually
    • Coursework in nutrition preferred

  • Health & Wellness Coach – Greater Providence Young Men’s Christian Association, Barrington

    • Salary: $12.25 hourly
    • High school diploma/GED required
    • One to three years of health coaching experience required

  • Regional Marketing Manager, Nutrition & Health Ingredients – GELITA USA

    • Salary: $74,700- $94,700 annually
    • Bachelor’s degree in marketing or related field required
    • Five years of marketing experience in nutrition and health ingredients market needed