Dietetic technicians plan meals and train people how to eat more nutritious food. Their work improves the health of those they serve, helping to prevent illness and disease.
These practitioners oversee menus, and counsel clients and patients, at nursing homes, hospitals, prisons, schools, government agencies, day-care centers, corporate cafeterias, weight-loss clinics, community health agencies, and other institutions. Often working under the supervision of dietitians, they decide which food to buy and how to prepare it.
Some dietetic technicians operate private practices, providing nutrition counseling. They may specialize in advising new mothers, children, or others. Such practitioners frequently speak to groups, including health-care providers, school classes, and community organizations. There are also jobs with companies that process and sell food, who need nutrition experts to help determine product ingredients.
To become a professional, some education and training are required. Government officials have predicted 20 percent job growth in the field from 2010 to 2020. Practitioners are in a position to have positive impacts on the lives of those they serve, aiding people in making dramatic improvements in their lifestyles.
Dietetic Technician Job Description
Dietetic technicians who work at institutions design menus with food that reduces the risk of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Meals typically feature the basic food groups, including vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and protein.
The individual dietary needs of clients and patients must be considered. Some people may have allergies or other conditions that dictate what they can and cannot eat. This may require meeting with people individually and reviewing their medical records.The dietetic technician job description includes:
- Assist dietitians in obtaining information from clients and patients regarding their medical histories, food preferences, and special dietary needs
- Provide nutritional education to groups and individuals, including those requiring special diets to help them recover from disease or illness
- Calculate and analyze food consumption, changes in clients’ weight, and health and wellness indicators
- Design individual nutrition plans and monitor the results
- Create and update patient records
- Perform other duties as assigned by dietitians and other supervisors
Dietetic Technician Prerequisites
Dietetic technicians often have to work in hot kitchens, where they may be burned, cut by a knife, or sustain other injuries. Following safety procedures, while maintaining focus and attention to detail, is important.
These specialists are sometimes required to stand for long periods of time. They may be called upon to work odd hours, including evenings and weekends. They require keen senses of smell and taste, to assist them to planning and creating meals.
Excellent communication skills are helpful. Dietetic technicians should be good listeners who are sympathetic to the individual needs of patients and clients. They also need to be able to work with dietitians and other institution staff. Those running private practices must possess business skills involving finance, marketing, and employee management.
How to become a Dietetic Technician
Some states have no requirements regarding education or training for dietetic technicians. However, most of these professionals have associate’s or bachelor’s degrees in nutrition, dietetics, or related fields. Students are advised to seek degree programs approved by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND).
Certain employers hire dietetic technicians who have not only earned degrees, but also successfully completed training programs approved by the American Dietetic Association. It may be beneficial to pass an exam administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration. The test is comprised of 125 multiple-choice questions in five subjects.
Recommended courses for those planning to enter the field include anatomy, biology, and chemistry, in addition to nutrition, health, and wellness classes. Students also may receive instruction in food preparation, ordering and purchasing, sanitation procedures, and food-serve management. Some take classes in psychology, math, business, and communications, as well.
Dietetic Technician Certification
The American Dietetic Association provides certification that qualifies practitioners as registered dietetic technicians. While many states and employers do not require these credentials, obtaining a certificate may prove helpful in getting job.
Some states mandate that dietetic technicians obtain a license, the main qualification for which is a degree in the field.
Dietetic Technician Salary
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Dietetic Technician Job DescriptionHere is a short recap of the dietetic technician job description:
- Educate and train people on eating nutritious food
- Assist dietitians and nutritionists
- No formal education required
- No certification required for practice
- 20% employment growth by 2022