Dietetic Technician: Education and Career Information
If you have an interest in nutrition and dietetics, a dietetic technician may be an interesting career path to pursue. These individuals have a varied set of duties that are an essential part of any healthcare and food service management team. This is a food-service based position that works with a variety of individuals in different settings to properly manage and regulate meal plans and the directives of the organization based on health standards and proper eating suggestions. These types of positions grow over time, with opportunities for advancement into other areas. This position is also a baseline for a field in dietary nutrition and is a precursor to becoming a registered dietician.
What does a dietetic technician do?
A dietetic technician works in preparing meals and menus for those individuals with special dietary needs. This position also conducts patient/client screens, gathers data and performs tasks that assist Registered Dietitian Nutritionists with medical nutrition therapy. You may also find dietetic technicians in schools, correctional facilities, restaurants, health clubs, food companies and public health agencies. Their duties range from the management of employees, to overseeing food-service sanitation and food safety.
A dietetic technician works directly under a registered dietitian. A dietetic technician is part of a comprehensive team instead of working alone. This position may counsel clients, offer nutritional advice and performs legwork with the clients by running tests for the dietitian to develop an effective treatment plan.
How much does a dietetic technician earn?
In May 2014, the Department of Labor reported annual wages to be at $44,200. Depending on location and experience, compensation can vary. The job outlook for this position is promising, with growth estimated to increase by at least twenty percent through 2020, with a second projection growth reaching at least twenty-eight percent.
What types of skills are required to be a dietetic technician?
There are a number of skills needed to be a dietetic technician, such as:
Active Listening: It is important for this person to pay attention to what others are saying, taking note to points being made and asking questions when necessary.
Service Orientation: This position always seeks ways to assist others.
Critical Thinking: This position has to use logic and in-depth reasoning to identify problems, offer alternative solutions and resolutions to these problems.
Time Management: It is important for this person to be able to manage their time wisely and be cognizant of others’ time.
Complex Problem-solving: It is important to be able to identify complex problems based on prior information and develop options and solutions based on evaluation methods.
Learning Strategies: It is important for this position to utilize various training and instruction methods when learning or teaching new things.
Instruction: This position must be able to instruct others on procedures and the management of food plans.
Coordination: Based on information received, this person must be able to coordinate a number of tasks and activities in relation to information received. This person must also be able to coordinate and schedule based on directives issued by the Dietician.
Writing: This position must be able to write clearly and effectively for the audience and other staff members to correctly administer directives and meal plans.
Persuasion: There may be times when patients may not be on one accord based on their new meal plans, or the administration may not be in agreeance with recommendations. This position must be able to provide the information needed to persuade those individuals of the effectiveness of the programs being presented.
Systems Evaluation: It is important for this position to be able to identify measures of performance and actions to improve that performance based on the directives of the dietitian.
There are a number of additional comprehensive skills needed to be productive in this position, such as management of personnel resources, systems analysis, quality control analysis, mathematics, operations monitoring and reading comprehension.
450 hours of supervised practice experience in community-based programs, healthcare and food-service facilities are required as part of the accreditation process. Based on the degree program, additional internship requirements may be needed.
The education required to become a dietetic technician varies based on the location and job description. At a minimum, this position must have an associate’s degree from a school that is accredited by ACEND.
Coursework for these students include:
•Nutrition and Diet Therapy
•Medical Nutrition Therapy
•Food Safety and Sanitation Practices
•Food Management Systems
•Meal Management and Food Preparation
A registered dietetic technician must be registered through the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND). There are both experiential and examination requirements that must be met, and registration must be maintained through continuing professional education. Each state has their own set of requirements as well. Licensure may not be required in every state, but obtaining this licensure will open doors to advanced opportunities.
This can be a very rewarding position that will offer a number of experiences based on location and type of facility where the job is being performed. Students who start as dietetic technicians may consider moving into the role of a registered dietician after a period of working in this capacity for more autonomy. The pay continues to increase with more experience. Compensation may slightly be more when working for private facilities.
Seeking additional education can also open doors in this industry for varied responsibilities in this industry. Being able to assist others in the regulation of their healthy eating habits, whether in the healthcare, correctional or school setting is needed in every state. Employment opportunities once registered are obtainable. This position is a great stepping stone for more coursework and elevation in the industry.