Dietetic technicians help patients and clients to lead healthy lives. An associate's degree is the minimum educational requirement for this position, with licensure required in some states.
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Dietetic technicians are wellness practitioners who develop nutritional plans to promote health, treat illnesses or prevent disease. An associate's or bachelor's degree, clinical training and professional certification may be useful for aspiring dietetic technicians. These professionals work in a variety of environments and have a promising employment outlook.
|Required Education||Associate's degree|
|Additional Requirements||License is required in some states|
|Projected Job Growth* (2014-2024)||13%|
|Median Salary* (2015)||$26,040 annually|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
Dietetic Technician Job Description
Dietetic technicians can promote healthy eating through counseling sessions, during which they may instruct patients, clients and their families how to choose and prepare healthy food. Often under the guidance of registered dietitians, technicians can prepare nutritional plans for patients and clients in a variety of settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, institutions, community health agencies or in private practice.
Dietetic Technician Job Duties
Dietetic technicians and other nutrition specialists may plan and prepare patient meals, order food and supplies, provide direction nutritional therapy and document patient intake. They also educate healthcare providers, community groups or students about nutrition through programs and training sessions. They may develop, implement or recommend nutrition programs for individuals and groups based on evaluations of dietary needs. Dietetic technicians may also consult with other healthcare professionals regarding the dietary modifications or restrictions that will best promote patient health and fit in with other treatment methods for conditions, illnesses and diseases.
Dietetic Technician Registration Requirements
According to the American Dietetic Association (ADA), aspiring dietetic technicians may choose to complete a 2-year associate degree in a program approved by the Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education (CADE), take continuing education courses, and pass the Commission on Dietetic Registration exam. Students may also choose to enroll in a bachelor's degree program, engage in CADE-approved supervised practice and pass the CDR exam, the ADA said. Successful completion of either path will award the student Dietetic Technician, Registered (DTR) status. The CDR exam is computer-based and consists of a total of 125 multiple-choice questions in five subject areas, with 25 questions included for practice.
Not all states require dietetic technicians to hold licensure for employment. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics advised prospective dietetic and nutrition professionals to consult state requirements, which are available through the CDR website.
Dietetic Technician Education Requirements
Aspiring dietetic technicians who live in states that don't require licensure may not be required to complete a specific educational experience. Those that do, however, will need to complete an associate's or bachelor's degree program.
Associate's and bachelor's degree programs for dietetic technicians can combine knowledge of the human body with nutrition science, wellness and health issues to teach students how to counsel groups and individuals in healthy eating. These programs generally include courses in human biology and anatomy, medical nutrition, chemistry and nutrition principles. Students also learn sanitation and handling, food service management, purchasing and food preparation. Other course requirements may include math, communications, psychology and business courses that will serve dietetic technicians well in providing dietary recommendations and guidance.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in 2015, dietetic technicians earned an annual median salary of $26,040. The BLS also predicted a 13% employment growth between 2014 and 2024.
Dietetic technicians tend to complete an associate's or bachelor's degree with courses in anatomy, chemistry and nutrition principles in order to prepare for their career. Depending on what state they intend to practice in, dietetic technicians may be required to successfully pass a certification exam. Their work involves planning and preparing meals, providing nutritional therapy and otherwise helping clients to lead healthy lifestyles.