Dietary Aide Certification, Degree and Training Program Info

Get information on associate's degree programs in dietetic technology. Learn about prerequisites, coursework, certification requirements and career options.

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Essential Information

A dietary aide, or dietetic technician, works under the direction of a dietitian to provide meals and counsel others on food and nutrition. An associate's degree in a nutrition-related field, such as dietetic technology, is the most common path to a career as a dietetic technician. Students of dietetic technology learn to supervise food production, plan menus according to nutritional and medical guidelines and manage cost control procedures.

These programs generally require two years to complete and combine classroom and practical training components. Graduates are prepared to work in long and short-term care facilities, hospitals and public health offices. Students need a high school diploma or the equivalent, and some programs call for a prerequisite course in chemistry. These programs often incorporate certification training, which many states require for food handlers.

Education Prerequisites

Admissions requirements to community colleges vary, but commonly include a high school diploma or equivalency examination and successful completion of college admissions examinations. For programs in dietetics, a course in chemistry is recommended as a prerequisite. Additionally, the ability to work well and supervise others is a key skill.

Program Coursework

Dietetic students complete a combination of general education and professional courses in order to meet degree requirements. Common topics include:

  • Principles of nutrition
  • Life cycle nutrition
  • Clinical nutrition
  • Food systems management
  • Medical nutrition therapy

Career Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job growth for dietetic technicians was expected to grow as fast as average at 16% between 2010 and 2020. The average salary was $28,680 in May 2012, according to the BLS.

Continuing Education

The American National Standards Institute accredits food handling certification programs. States often require such certification in order to work in food service facilities. Common credentials include the Certified Professional Food Manager offered through Prometric, the Food Safety Manager Certification Examination administered by the National Registry of Food Safety Professionals. Some associate's degree programs incorporate certification training within the program's curriculum.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics