Be a Dietetic Assistant: Career Info and Education Requirements

Sep 13, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a dietetic assistant. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and registration to find out if this is the career for you.

Dietetic assistants typically work with dietitians to analyze patient nutritional needs and create diet plans. They must complete either a two-year or four-year post-secondary educational program and become registered through the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR).

Essential Information

Dietetic assistants are trained in nutrition and food sciences. Also known as a 'dietetic technician', 'registered (DTR)' or 'diet aide', a dietetic assistant screens and evaluates the diets of patients and private clients. Educational options include two- and four-year degree programs in dietetics, some of which include the registration necessary to work in this field.

Required Education Associate's or bachelor's degree in dietetics
Other Requirements Registration as a dietetic technician or assistant through the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR)
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) 6% for dietetic technicians*
Median Salary (2018) $27,140 for dietetic technicians*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Dietetic Assistant Career Information

The majority of dietetic assistants' work is the prevention and management of nutritionally-based diseases. Dietetic assistants usually work alongside registered dietitians, who have an advanced level of training in the field. Hospitals, clinics, continuing-care facilities and schools are among the places in which these professionals are employed.

Day-to-day duties of a dietetic assistant in a clinical setting include planning patient diets, collecting data on patient dietary history, conducting diet analyses and the tracking of patients' food consumption. For a private consultant, duties may also include providing clients with education in nutrition and cooking. In a school or community setting, dietetic assistants may participate in community health campaigns or guide shoppers and cooks in the selection and preparation of nutritionally balanced foods.

The career is highly mobile, making it attractive to those who want a wide range of choices regarding where to work. The median annual wage for a dietetic technician was $27,140 in 2018, reports the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those who go on to become registered dietitians earn significantly more.

Education Requirements

Degree options to become a dietetic assistant range from 2-year associate's degree programs to 4-year baccalaureate programs. Coursework to expect includes nutrition, chemistry, research and reporting, anatomy and microbiology.

The higher the base degree, the fewer extra requirements are needed to become a dietetic assistant. Those who pursue an associate's degree program must first look for one accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education (CADE). They must also pass a national written examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) and complete continuing professional educational requirements to maintain registration.

The extra requirements for those who enroll in a bachelor's degree program are fewer, because the coursework required for a more advanced degree covers some of the above necessities. There are no opportunities for a postgraduate degree as a dietetic assistant. People wanting to continue their studies in dietary nutrition should look into becoming registered dietitians.

In order to obtain entry-level employment, dietetic assistants must complete a 2 or 4-year post-secondary degree program in dietetics. Those with a bachelor's degree will have an easier time becoming registered and may have a better job outlook. Dietetic technicians can expect to see 6% job growth from 2018-2028, according to the BLS.

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