Educational and professional requirements
Dietetic technicians, registered (DTRs), are trained in food and nutrition and are an integral part of the health-care and foodservice management teams. DTRs have met the following criteria to earn the DTR credential:
- Completed a dietetic technician program by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, that includes 450 hours of supervised practice experience in various community programs, health-care and foodservice facilities and has completed at least a two year associate's degree at a U.S. regionally accredited college or university.
- Completed coursework in an ACEND-accredited didactic program or coordinated program in dietetics and has completed at least a bachelor's degree at a U.S. regionally accredited college or university.
- After completing the degree and dietetics coursework, pass a national examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR). For more information regarding the examination, refer to the CDR website.
- Completed continuing professional educational requirements to maintain registration.
College course work
The course work for dietetic technicians includes a variety of classes in food and nutrition sciences, foodservice systems management and a range of general science courses.
Dietetic technicians, registered work independently or as a team member under the supervision of registered dietitians in a variety of employment settings, including health care, business and industry, community/public health, foodservice and research.
Many work environments require that an individual be credentialed as a DTR. DTRs work in:
- Hospitals, HMOs, clinics, nursing homes, retirement centers, hospices, home health-care programs and research facilities helping to treat and prevent disease by conducting screens, gathering data and performing other tasks to assist the registered dietitian in providing medical nutrition therapy as an important part of health-care teams.
- Schools, day-care centers, correctional facilities, restaurants, health-care facilities, corporations and hospitals, managing employees, purchasing and food preparation and preparing budgets within foodservice operations.
- Women, infant, children (WIC) programs, public health agencies, Meals on Wheels and community health programs, developing and teaching nutrition classes for the public.
- Health clubs, weight management clinics and community wellness centers, helping to educate clients about the connection between food, fitness and health.
- Food companies, contract food management companies or food vending and distributing operations developing menus, overseeing foodservice sanitation and food safety and preparing food labeling information and nutrient analysis.
If you already have a degree
If you already completed college course work or have a degree that is not in dietetics and are interested in becoming a dietetic technician, registered, you should have your college transcript evaluated by the director of a dietetics technician program ACEND-accredited. Because the policies, procedures and costs for the transcript evaluation may vary from one institution to another, you may want to contact more than one dietetics program for further information.
The program director will evaluate your previous academic preparation and identify the courses you would need to complete at that school to meet the requirements for taking the registration exam for dietetic technicians.
Salaries and job outlook
According to Academy's 2009 Dietetic Compensation and Benefits Survey, half of all DTRs in the US who have been working in the field full-time less than five years earn between $33,800 and $37,700 per year. Salary levels vary with region, employment setting, geographical location, scope of responsibility and supply of DTRs.
The job market for dietetic technicians, registered is assumed to be similar to that for dietitians and nutritionists. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of dietetic technicians is expected to grow faster than average for all occupations through the year 2016 because of increasing emphasis on disease prevention, a growing and aging population, and public interest in nutrition. Employment in hospitals is expected to show little change because of anticipated slow growth and reduced lengths of hospital stay; however, faster growth is anticipated in nursing homes, residential care facilities and physician clinics.
There are many resources to help students in need pay for college. You may be able to obtain a grant or scholarship from a corporation, community or civic group, philanthropic or religious organization or directly from the school or college you are interested in attending. Federal grants and low-interest loans may also be available.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation offers scholarships to encourage eligible students to enter the field of dietetics. Student members of the Academy enrolled in the first year of study in an ACEND-accredited dietetic technician program may apply for a Foundation scholarship for use in the second year of study. Contact the Academy's Accreditation and Education Programs Team (800/877-1600, ext. 5400 or firstname.lastname@example.org) for Foundation scholarship information.
Need more information?
For other career guidance information, contact the Academy's Accreditation and Education Programs Team:
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Accreditation and Education Programs Team
120 South Riverside Plaza, Suite 2000
Chicago, Illinois 60606-6995
Phone: 800/877-1600, ext. 5400