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Become an NDTR

Nutrition and dietetics technicians, registered (NDTRs) — often working in partnership with registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) — are an integral part of the health-care and food service management teams. Learn about the requirements to become an NDTR, education programs and more.

Nutrition and dietetics technicians, registered, are trained in food and nutrition and are an integral part of the health-care and foodservice management teams.

Nutrition and dietetics technicians, registered (NDTRs) work independently as team members under the supervision of RDNs in a variety of employment settings, including health care, business and industry, community/public health, foodservice and research. Many work environments requires that an individual be credentialed as an NDTR.

NDTRs work in:

  • Hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, retirement centers, hospices, home health-care programs and research facilities conducting patient and client screens, gathering data and performing other tasks to assist the RDN in providing medical nutrition therapy.
  • Schools, day-care centers, correctional facilities, restaurants, health-care facilities, corporations and hospitals managing employees, purchasing and food preparation and maintaining budgets within foodservice operations.
  • Women, Infants, Children (WIC) programs, public health agencies, Meals on Wheels and community health programs assisting RDNs with the implementation of programs and presentation of 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 and overseeing foodservice sanitation and food safety.

Salaries and Job Outlook

According to the 2021 Compensation & Benefits Survey of the Dietetics Profession, salaries have increased steadily over time. The median full-time salary of NDTRs was $49,000 in 2021. As with any profession, salaries and fees vary by region of the country, employment settings, scope of responsibility and supply of NDTRs. Salaries increase with experience and with the highest reported salary at $75,000.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of dietitians and nutritionists is projected to grow faster than average for all occupations through the year 2022 because of the increased emphasis on the role of food and nutrition in preventing and treating diseases, a growing and aging population and public interest in nutrition.

How Do I Become an NDTR?

To become a nutrition and dietetic technician, registered, you will need to:

  1. Earn at least an associate's degree and completed an accredited NDTR program. These programs include 450 hours of supervised practice experience in various community programs, health-care and foodservice facilities.
    Earn at least a bachelor's degree and complete coursework accredited DPD. Learn more about didactic programs in dietetics or coordinated programs in dietetics.
  2. Pass a national exam for NDTRs. Once one completes their educational requirements, they may schedule to take CDR's Registration Examination for Dietetic Technicians to become credentialed as a nutrition and dietetics technician, registered.
  3. Stay up-to-date in dietetics through continuing education. After successfully passing the national exam and earning the credential, NDTRs maintain ongoing professional development in order to stay up to date on the latest research, recommendations and best practices.

Dietetics education programs in colleges and universities are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics—or ACEND. As an accrediting agency, ACEND makes sure that students preparing for careers as NDTRs are getting the education they need to qualify for taking the national DTR exam.

There are several kinds of accredited dietetics education programs—each offering a different experience and "pathway" to NDTR eligibility.

  • Nutrition and Dietetics Technician Programs (DTs) offer associate's degree level coursework and at least 450 hours of supervised practice for NDTR eligibility.
  • Didactic Programs in Dietetics Programs (DPDs) offer bachelor's and graduate level dietitian coursework.
  • Coordinated Programs in Dietetics (CPs) offer bachelor's and graduate level dietitian coursework.


Accredited Program Directory

Choosing the Right Program

While all ACEND-accredited programs meet the standards and requirements for graduates to become NDTRs, the decision about which school or program to attend is personal and should be made based on a variety of factors that are important to you, such as:

  • Size of school and program: Would you be more comfortable in a small private school or a large state (public) university?
  • Cost: Can you afford a private school or is a state-supported school a better value for you?
  • Available financial aid: What resources are available to you?
  • Geographic location: Do you prefer a rural or urban setting, residential or commuter school? Several programs also offer distance education.
  • Faculty composition and qualifications: Have you visited the website or campus and talked with faculty?
  • Success of graduates in pursuing career goals: What are your career goals and do they match the goals of the program?

Talk with program directors (contact information is in the Accredited Program Directory), discuss the program details and ask to visit. It is sometimes helpful to speak with current students and graduates, or RDNs and NDTRs located in the area near the program for insights that may be helpful in making a decision.

The Application Process

For information on applying to dietetic technician programs (DTs) or Didactic Programs in Dietetics (DPDs), you must research each specific programs requirements and processes. The programs' websites are listed in the Accredited Program Directory.  

Financial aid

There are many resources to help students 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 your chosen school or college. Federal grants and low-interest loans may also be available.

  • State and Local Sources of Financial Aid: Financial assistance is essential for many students enrolled in dietetics education programs. Information about student aid should be sought from the financial aid office or administrator at individual institutions. Additional sources include the state higher education agency and local civic, professional and community organizations or foundations. Detailed information about federal grants and loans administered by the United States Department of Education is available at the Federal Student Aid website.
  • Academy Scholarships: Progress in the educational and scientific advancement of dietetics inspires friends and members of the profession to make funds available for qualified candidates to receive scholarships through contributions to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation. In addition, some state and local dietetic associations may offer scholarships to prospective students in their area. You should contact these groups directly for more information.
  • International Financial Assistance and Resources Directory: Made possible through the Wimpfheimer-Guggenheim Fund for International Exchange in Nutrition, Dietetics and Management, this 90-page directory is a reference for U.S. and international students and professionals seeking funding for professional study, work experience or research in their home country or abroad.

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