Diet Technician Certification and Degree Program Info
Dietetic technicians are responsible for working under the supervision of licensed nutritionists to help plan and administer meal plans for schools, hospitals and private clients. Individuals interested in working in the field should enroll in an Associate of Applied Science Dietetic Technician degree program.
Associate of Applied Science Dietetic Technician
Many dietetic technicians learn their craft on the job, but some choose to complete an associate's degree program. Programs must be accredited by the Commission for the Accreditation of Dietetics Education in order for graduates to be eligible later on for certification. Programs for the dietetic technician field take two years to complete and cover the basics of nutrition, human health and food service management.
Students enrolled in a dietetic technician degree program learn how to successfully obtain diet and nutrition histories from clients, screen clients for medical history, determine the dietary needs of each client, and devise appropriate nutritional plans based upon the recommendations of a registered dietitian. They also learn how to administer and help supervise those nutritional plans. Many degree programs for dietetic technicians also include courses in patient care and communication.
Individuals interested in becoming dietetic technicians should complete a high school diploma program - preferably with an emphasis on math and science - before enrolling in an associate's degree program in the field. Some schools also require incoming students to take reading placement tests and prove they have a grasp of the English language before they can begin taking courses.
Degree programs for aspiring dietetic technicians include classroom lectures as well as supervised practical training courses. Programs may be set up to require 450 hours of supervised practice since that is the threshold for qualifying for certification. Some classroom courses commonly found in such programs include:
- Foundations of food safety
- Nutrition and wellness
- Human life cycle and nutrition
- Nutrition assessment
- Applied food service
- Food service management
- Clinical nutrition
- Supervised practicum
Popular Career Options
Dietetic technicians can go on to assist registered dieticians in several different types of public or private organizations. Some of these include:
- General and surgical hospitals
- Long-term care facilities
- Community nutrition services
- Public health clinics
Students who complete an accredited degree program for dietetic technicians can take an examination given by the American Dietetic Association's Commission on Dietetic Registration to become Dietetic Technicians - Registered, also called DTRs (www.eatright.org). Some states also have their own licensure requirements for those aspiring to work in the dietetic field.
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