Dietary Technician: Career Info & Requirements

If you would like to work in a helping field with a goal of long-term improvement of public health, a career as a dietary technician may be just right for you. Read on to learn more about the education and skills requirements, in addition to the salary and employment outlook for this career.

Career Definition for a Dietary Technician

A dietary technician pursues a career helping nutritionists or dietitians to design, implement, and supervise food service operations. The dietary technician may also cooperate with those who have special nutritional requirements to plan diets or menus for the purpose of health maintenance or portion control.

Required Education Associate's degree with a clinical component or on-the-job training
Job Duties Helping nutritionists or dietitians design, implement, and supervise food service operations; plan diets or menus for health maintenance/portion control
Median Salary (2017)* $26,500
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* 9%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

A dietary technician career can begin with on-the-job training, but the more common route is an associate degree from an accredited program with courses focusing on nutrition and food. A clinical component or internship under supervision improves career opportunities.

Skills Required

The ability to work directly with people is an important component of many jobs as a dietary technician. This requires the aptitude for teaching and motivating others to change behavior in a tactful way. Good communication skills, coupled with patience and good eating habits are also important when working with patients and family members.

Career and Economic Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) forecasts that the career outlook for dietary technicians will increase at a rate about the average of all occupations, at 9%, from 2016 to 2026. The median annual salary for dietary technicians in May 2017 was $26,500, per the BLS.

Alternate Career Options

Looking for some alternative careers? Here are some examples:

Health Educator

These educators may secure entry-level jobs with a bachelor's degree and may need to earn a Certified Health Educator Specialist credential (CHES), the BLS advises. Employment teaching others about healthy lifestyles may be found in businesses, hospitals, physician offices and government agencies, and jobs were predicted to increase much faster than average, at 14% from 2016-2026, the BLS announced. The annual median wage for health educators in 2017 was $53,940, according to the BLS, and jobs in hospitals paid the top wages at that time.

Dietitian and Nutritionist

Normally completing bachelor's degree programs in dietetics or related areas, including internships, these professionals are required to be licensed in some states. They give people advice on leading healthy lives, develop meal plans according to specific health needs and remain current with nutritional research. They might work in cafeterias, hospitals, schools and nursing homes. Much faster than average job growth of 15% was forecast by the BLS for this career from 2016-2026. In 2017, they earned a median annual salary of $59,410, per the BLS.

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