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  • Writer's pictureShaina Painter

What is a Certified Nutrition Specialist(CNS)?

Most of us are familiar with Registered Dieticians as the major credentialed expert in the field of nutrition. However, the Certified Nutrition Specialist Credential is an alternative path to expertise in the realm of nutrition.

CNS is an advanced credential for nutrition practitioners, holding degrees such as an MS, RD credential, or Doctorate degree (MD, DO, ND) and others. The CNS credential permits the utilization of medical nutrition therapy and science-based, personalized nutrition in different states. The CNS credential is awarded by the American Nutrition Association (ANA) and enables licensure for these nutrition professionals in 30+ states.


Differences Between an RD & CNS



Education: Bachelors degree in Dietetics, or nutrition, & as of 2024, Master's degree in dietetics or nutrition.

Education: Minimum of a Master's degree in nutrition or related coursework

Training: Biochemistry, Anatomy, Chemistry, Research Methods, Dietetics, Food Service Management, Food Science, and Medical Nutrition Therapy. Minimum 1,200+ supervised practice hours in an ACEND matched internship.

Training: Biochemistry, Anatomy, Chemistry, Research Methods, Personalized Nutrition, Assessment & Monitoring, Medical Nutrition Therapy, and Public Health. Minimum 1,000+ supervised clinical practice hours.

Requirements: National licensing exam & internship by the ACEND, and completion of 75 CEUs every 5 years to maintain licensure.

Requirements: 1,000+ supervised clinical practice hours by an ANA-approved supervisor, ANA credentialing exam, and completion of 75 CEUs every 5 years to maintain certification.

Career Path: Hospital Setting, Community Education, Food Service & Systems, Research, Public Health, and other healthcare fields.

Career Path: Private practice, Research, Academia, Media, Public health, and other healthcare fields.


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