Job Duties of a Dietetic Technician

Overview

Dietetic technicians function as dietary aides and help professionals in the operation of food services. They are well informed about nutrition and they plan and prepare food for people. People in this occupation teach and counsel individuals on food and nutrition and generally educate people on how what they eat influences their health. For those interested in helping people make better decisions about food and helping them take control of their health, should consider choosing their profession as a dietetic technician.

Job Duties

The general job duty for dietetic technicians is to counsel people on proper diet, teach principles of food and nutrition and provide services in areas of food services management. They are required to do this by understanding the needs of people and making a diet plan for them in order to recommend proper nutrition. They plan meals according to the right amount of calories and nutrition needs for particular individuals they are working with. These needs depend on dietary restrictions, heart problems, diabetes, weight problems, allergies etc.

Good communication skills are especially required from dietetic technicians since most of their time is spent on working with different kinds of people. Dietary technicians also work with nutritionists and dieticians by assisting them in providing food services. They take part in nutrition events and programs for patients where they educate them on proper nutrition needs and its importance for their health. Dietetic technicians are essentially required to be good team players since the job requires them to collaborate with other healthcare providers.

Career Outlook

Due to a growing interest in health and nutrition, there has been a positive demand for professional food service plans and dietary counseling and education. It is also predicted that the number of patients in retirement and nursing homes will go up, therefore there will be a greater need for dietetic technicians. The nature of a dietetic technician’s work requires them to work under supervision by other professionals. However, while starting off as an assistant in this field, dietetic technicians can gradually advance to professional dieticians, supervisors and food directors. People who are interested in private practice can go for that option after sufficient years of experience.

Dietetic technicians can find jobs in various industries and depending on their interest they can work in settings like hospitals, nursing homes, schools, corporate cafeterias, day care centers, retirement communities, health clubs, correctional facilities or research institutions. While majority of dietetic technicians are employed in the healthcare industry, there are opportunities also in the education sector where a dietetic technician assists in teaching groups of people about the importance of nutrition and health. In the food industry, a dietetic technician gets the opportunity to develop food labels and help suppliers make healthier foods.

Salary Prospects

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov), there are approximately 24,660 dietetic technicians in United States. The mean annual wage for this occupation is estimated to be $28,680. The highest annual salary offered to dietetic technicians is $44,630 whereas the lowest annual salary offered is $32,370. Outpatient care centers pay the highest salary to dietetic technicians.

Most dietetic technicians find jobs in general medical and surgical hospitals with a relatively higher mean annual wage as compared to the national average.  However, psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals not only hire a higher number of dietetic technicians but also pay them higher than people of the same occupation working in other industries. The top paying states in United States according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics are Missouri, New York and District of Columbia.

Educational Requirements

For people interested in becoming a dietetic technician, they may consider completing two years of community college with the degree related to nutrition and food science. After graduating from college, one should consider enrolling in a specialized training program that is approved by Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education (CADE).

In this training program, students need to complete 450 hours in food preparation environments to get experience in the real world. Through the training program, students get supervised experience in working directly with patients and specific groups of people in food service facilities, healthcare services centers or community services centers. They get experience in helping them determine their nutrition goals and plan on food items for them that meet their dietary requirements.

To become a certified dietetic technician, you must pass a national examination by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDC). Dietetic technicians require continuous learning and they need to maintain their certification by continuing education.

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