A dietetic technician career can allow a person to have a direct and lasting impact on the health of tens of thousands of people over the course of a career, and the need for qualified dietetic technicians is growing rapidly. The services these experts provide are sorely needed in modern-day America, as the U.S. is in the midst of unprecedented epidemics of poor nutrition and obesity. Public health experts are predicting a huge wave of diabetes and heart disease in the coming future—striking people even in their twenties and thirties—if our eating habits don’t change drastically in the near future. Which means that a huge wave of people is needed to fill these medical careers. By embarking on a dietetic technician career, people can do their part to help bring about that change and possibly save many lives in the process.
A dietetic technician works hand in hand with, and under the authority of, a registered dietitian in planning and preparing nutritious and tasty meals for large groups of people in institutional settings. Common work environments would include colleges and universities, public and private schools, hospitals, prisons, nursing homes, retirement communities, and larger businesses with on-site cafeterias, as well as hotels, camps, and retreat centers. Unlike dietitians, whose work is more organizational, a dietetic technician will often spend much of the day working in the kitchen along with cooks and other staff, overseeing preparation of the food. It can be very fast paced and will often require people to be on their feet for most of the day. As in any job involving food preparation, common work hazards include slips and falls from greasy or wet floors, minor burns, and the occasional knife cut. More severe incidents are possible, but because of the strong emphasis on safety procedures, they are relatively rare.
To get started in a dietetic technician career, a person will need a strong grounding in principles of nutrition and food preparation. Most entry-level jobs will require at least an associate’s degree that’s been approved by the American Dietetic Association, although a few will require a bachelor’s degree. In addition, a person must pass the Dietetic Technician, Registered (DTR) certification exam in order to show mastery of the necessary principles and practices. The average salary in the field is currently around $30,000 a year, but many dietetic technicians make substantially more, with some reporting salaries over $40,000. Because most jobs are in large organizations, benefits packages are often quite attractive. Job growth is expected to be above average in the coming years, as more and more emphasis is placed on healthy eating.