How to Become a Dietetic Technician

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A well-balanced diet is essential to overall good health. Trained professionals are required to assist dieticians in the daily operation of food services, such as planning diets, nutritional programs, and meals for a variety of patients. This is the job of dietetic technicians.

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What does a dietetic technician do?

Dietetic technicians help dieticians provide nutritional and food service programs. They teach principles of nutrition and food, plan and provide meals based on established guidelines, and counsel individuals and families on selecting and preparing food. They often collect the diet history of patients, observe eating habits, and report dietary progress and problems to dieticians. Sometimes dietetic technicians determine food costs and help with implementing cost control procedures. They may also work with a patient’s budget to create an effective and cost-efficient meal plan. Some dietetic technicians specialize in a certain area such as food service management or nutritional care. Others are involved in researching nutrition, food, and food service systems.

What kind of training does a dietetic technician need?

Dietetic technicians must have at least a high school diploma and an associate degree. Many community colleges, schools of allied health, and vocational and technical schools offer many dietary programs. It is important for aspiring dietetic technicians to choose a program that is accredited by the American Dietetic Association. Programs usually include classroom instruction and practical experience. Many students complete internships at food service facilities while completing their education to gain hands-on experience. After completion of their program, dietetic technicians must pass a certification examination.

What are the prospects for a career as a dietetic technician?

Employment of dietetic technicians is expected to grow faster than average for all professions from 2006 to 2016 (1). The growing and aging population and increased need for dietary services will drive job growth.

Job prospects are expected to be good especially for dietetic technicians with advanced education and work experience. Job openings will also arise from the need to replace dietetic technicians that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do dietetic technicians make?

As of November 2009, dietetic technicians with 1 to 4 years experience earn average annual salaries between $25,509 and $50,000. Those with 5 to 9 years experience earn average annual salaries between $25,314 and $34,250 (2).

A career as a dietetic technician is an excellent choice for individuals interested in helping dieticians with dietary tasks. Dietetic technicians must have a thorough knowledge of dietary procedures and guidelines and a strong desire to help people lead healthier lives by making modifications to their diet. Strong organizational skills, good problem-solving skills, and excellent judgment are desired characteristics. Dietetic technicians must be able to follow directions and effectively work as part of a team. Excellent communication and interpersonal skills are also essential because dietetic technicians work with a variety of patients and other healthcare professionals on a daily basis.

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