What is a Diet Tech?
While discussing my desire to change my career path and start to integrate myself more deeply into nutrition and therapies- my close friend (already in the field) suggested that I take a look into the role of a Diet Technician. I usually associate ‘Technician’ as a role that requires less education to start quickly and is easily built upon as you discover where your truest interest in the field lies-perfect!
Step one to my research-What is a Diet Tech exactly?
Proper tile-Dietetic Technician, Registered (DTR), are trained in nutrition and food science and has met the educational, experiential and examination requirements of the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND). They work under a Registered Dietitian (RD) in many different settings including hospitals, long-term care facilities, schools, home health care programs, community programs (office spaces), research facilities, health clubs, food companies and smaller private nutritional practices.
What exactly does this job entail?
Based primarily on where you work as a Dietetic Technician, (DTR) job duties vary. A DTR always works under the supervision of a Registered Dietician, (RD) and works directly with clients. Various job tasks in accordance to the setting include:
- Health Clubs/Wellness Organizations: work to educate their clients on how food affects overall health as well as fitness.
- Food Companies: work in food companies, vendors, or distributors to oversee food sanitation and safety practices, help to develop menus and prepare nutrition analysis and food labels.
- Hospital, long-term care facilities, research facilities, and health clinics: DTR’s working in these types of organizations work towards disease prevention through nutrition by screening clients, gathering data from clients and assisting the RD in providing medical nutritional therapy services for clients.
- Restaurants, Schools Hospitals, Offices (cafeteria settings): manage food service employees, may participate in the financial side of service management, preparing budgets, purchasing food, and helping to prepare food.
- Health programs/public health agencies: in this setting DTRs develop a nutritional program and teach classes to the public
What are the major skills needed?
- Can lead, instruct and teach others in tasks
- Can identify and solve complex problems
- Is an active learner-apply new knowledge to old practices and adjust as necessary
- Looks to help others
- Critical thinking skills
- Listening and speaking clearly and consciously to clients and co-workers
- Assess others and own performance
What type of education does this require?
The Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) requires all aspiring Dietetic Technicians, Registered (DTR) complete a college-level dietetic technician educational program that meets one of the following:
- Is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND)
- Includes completing the requirements for a two-year associate’s degree
- 450 hour s of supervised dietetic technician experience in an actual job setting (such as a food service facility, health care facility or community program)
- Is an ACEND-accredited Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) or Coordinated Program in Dietetics (CP)
- Includes completing requirements for a bachelor’s degree
Classes most DTR students take include subjects on the following:
- Food preparation and meal management
- Food management systems
- Nutrition and diet therapy
- Medical nutrition therapy
- Sanitation and safety
The practicum component of a DTR program is a minimum of 450 hours long. This can be taken on a part-time or full-time basis. Usually, the practicum instructor assigns a DTR student to a practicum facility.
What are the Dietetic Technician, Registered Licensure/Certification Qualifications?
In order to become certified Dietetic Technician, Registered (DTR) by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), one must complete all education and experience requirements prior to sitting for the CDR Dietetic Technician, Registered Exam. By passing this exam confers the credentials DTR to a professional. Next, DTRs must check with the state in which they plan to work, as each state has its own licensure and/or certification requirements for DTRs. Some states do not require any licensure or certification for DTRs. Once licensed and/or registered, DTRs must fulfill the continuing education requirements of their state (if required) and of the CDR.
Here is a link of the state DTR licensure/certification laws published by the CDR; https://www.cdrnet.org/vault/2459/web/files/Licensurelawsregulations.pdf
What is the Dietetic Technician, Registered Average Salary?
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), published report in May 2012 states the average mean national salary for Dietetic Technicians was $28,680. Keep in mind that this statistic is just for Dietetic Technicians, and that sometimes those who hold DTR credentials from the CDR are paid higher than average salaries. The best paying industry in which Dietetic Technicians worked was in outpatient care centers, annual income of $34,880. The state that paid the highest mean annual wage to Dietetic Technicians was Missouri, earning $42,310 annually.
What is this positions Outlook and Demand?
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that job growth for Dietetic Technicians, Registered (DTR) on average range, from 10 to 19 percent, from 2010 to 2020. BLS projected that there will be approximately 8100 job openings for DTR during this decade.
What are my thoughts?
This may be a great way to get my foot in the door while I continue my education into becoming a Registered Dietitian. I will be able to take an internship possibly with who I work under. The hours are flexible in some instances so the possibilities for working in a couple different facilities to gauge where the best fits are, is manageable. The pay is not exactly where I would need it long term but it would allow for growth in other means of income. The educational requirements are not lengthy and the test itself seems based in studying what you are taught. Overall, I think my friend has led me in a proper direction to begin.