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What does a Dietetic Technician do?

By Rachel Burkot
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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A dietetic technician works with a registered dietitian to plan meals, nutritional programs and diets for clients with special food needs. He or she might also work with a client’s budget to create a meal plan or shopping list. A dietetic technician closely monitors changes in clients’ eating habits and dietary needs. Additionally, dietetic technicians can orchestrate meals for institutions and are responsible for upholding safety standards in the food service industry.

Becoming a dietetic technician requires obtaining at least an associate degree from an accredited university. To become a DTR, or dietetic technician, registered, the individual must also get hands-on training in the industry by participating in 450 hours of supervised work through a dietetic technician program. A test called the Registration Examination for Dietetic Technicians must be passed, and 50 hours of continuing education hours must be completed every five years.

Dietetic technicians typically work in either medical careers or food service careers. In a medical career, a dietitian works in a specialized field of nutritional care to ensure that individual clients’ dietary needs are met. This involves studying medical histories and researching nutrition and diet facts to create nutritional programs for clients. Dietetic technicians in the health field often work in hospital settings, and they are responsible for reporting changes in clients’ conditions or food needs to the registered dietitian.

A dietetic technician who works in a food service career is responsible for such tasks as stocking and ordering food supplies, creating budgets, menus and ingredient lists, overseeing food preparation and ensuring that high safety standards are maintained. This type of dietetic technician must be organized, a natural leader and a stickler for routines and safety. They are the ones to speak up and suggest changes when the system is not running as efficiently as it should be. In addition, these dietetic technicians must be good with computers and databases, as these tools are used to monitor and order large quantities of groceries. They usually work in restaurants or cafeterias in a school, college or nursing home.

Health careers and nutritionist programs involving the work of a dietetic technician are expected to grow in years to come because of new food safety laws. Additionally, more of an emphasis is being placed on achieving the highest quality of life through a healthy diet. Dietetic technicians provide the fundamental services upon which a healthy lifestyle is founded. They aim to help clients prevent diseases, make healthy food choices and plan for a well-rounded diet.

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Discussion Comments
By EricRadley — On Aug 06, 2011

@alianor - Many people in our world today are indeed leading unhealthier lives compared to people say, a century ago. In part because of the processed foods that are so widely available and also because of the way technology has changed our lives.

Instead of fighting these changes however, it's good that schools, offices and other organizations hire dieticians to help educate people about the nutrition choices they have. Awareness of healthy living is definitely increasing.

By alianor — On Aug 05, 2011

I find it really surprising that there are so many dietitian jobs jobs opening up now. What do you think it says about our health and awareness of nutrition?

By pennywell — On Aug 05, 2011

@fingered - In terms of educational requirements, a Registered Dietician (RD) requires a Bachelor's degree (four years) with plenty of practical experience, compared to a Dietetic Technician who only requires a two-year degree which includes practical experience. Registered Dieticians don't only study nutrition and biology, but also the business aspects of these fields to prepare them to run their own clinics.

By fingered — On Aug 04, 2011

Considering all the work that is involved in dietetic technician jobs, how are they really different from a registered dietician?

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