Should I Become a Dietetics Assistant?
More commonly referred to as a dietetic technician, dietetic assitants work under the supervision of a dietitian to gather nutritional data, assess patients' nutritional needs, and prepare menus. They may be employed in hospitals, long-term care facilities, schools, doctor's offices, and other settings where the nutritional value of food being served is monitored. These workers often need to show patience and empathy for others, and some stressful situations might arise in the course of workdays.
|Degree Level||Associate's degree|
|Degree Field||Nutrition and food management; dietetic technician|
|Registration/Licensure||Licensure regulations vary by state and job duties/title; registration is voluntary|
|Experience||Entry-level with postsecondary education|
|Key Skills||Service orientation, critical thinking, decision making and judgment, instructing others, speaking, listening and reading skills; knowledge of various industry specific computer software and systems|
|Salary (2015)||$26,040 per year (Median salary for dietetic technicians)|
Sources: O*NET Online, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Commission on Dietetic Registration, Job postings (November 2012), *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2015)
Dietetic Assistant Job Steps
Let's go through each step you should take to start a career as a dietetics assistant.
Step 1: Complete an Associate's Degree Program
Experience and training requirements vary by employer, but employers often look for candidates who have earned an associate's degree. Postsecondary coursework for a 2-year dietetics technician program covers topics in basic nutrition, food preparation, meal planning, food sanitation and safety, and special food needs.
A recommendation is to complete an internship. Students can acquire valuable industry skills and knowledge in this type of program, which typically is completed toward the end of their coursework. The hours worked during an internship can be applied toward the required 450 hours of supervised experience necessary to earn the designation of Dietetic Technician, Registered (DTR).
Step 2: Become a Dietetic Technician, Registered
After completing a formal education program, prospective dietetic assistants might opt to earn industry certification. The American Dietetic Association (ADA) offers the DTR credential. Applicants must meet specific education and experience requirements, including completion of an associate's degree program from a regionally accredited U.S. school and 450 hours of supervised work experience at the practice level. The DTR credential gives dietetics assistants the chance to be more competitive in the job market and to qualify for positions with companies that require dietetic assistants to be registered.
Step 3: Meet State Licensing Requirements
Each state sets its own standards for licensing and registration of dietetics assistants. In most states, strict laws exist regarding job titles and the scope of job duties for this career. Prospective dietetic assistants should research and check the guidelines for the state in which a potential job is located.
Step 4: Pursue Advancement Options
Beyond licensure and registration as a dietetic assistant, there is also the option of becoming a Registered Dietician Nutritionist (RDN). RDN status requires additional education at the bachelor's degree level. Dietetic assistants who want to advance in the field can expect increased employment opportunities and salary.