University of Wisconsin–Madison

Dietetic Technician

Work Activities/Work Locations

  • Dietetic Technicians, also commonly known as “Diet Techs”, work under the supervision of Registered Dietitians when performing clinical dietetics. They have an in-depth knowledge of nutrition. They assist in planning menus based on an individual’s dietary needs and restrictions as well as educating individuals on proper nutrition.
  • They also work with medical patients who have special dietary needs. They record their diet history and evaluate their eating habits.
  • They also give educational materials that will help people select and prepare foods that will meet their nutritional needs yet follow the dietary restrictions prescribed by their physicians.
  • Dietetic Technicians work in healthcare settings such as hospitals, clinics, nursing, homes, health maintenance organizations (HMO’s), government departments, homes health care agencies, and public health organizations.
  • They may work in various other settings as well, such as cafeterias or kitchens, school food services, Adult/Child Day Care, Wellness and Fitness Programs, or Weight Maintenance Programs.

Advantages and Disadvantages

  • Dietetic Technicians like the diversity of their work and helping many different people.
  • They also enjoy organizing and supervising food preparation activities and take pride in the foods they serve.
  • Are often on their feet on a regular workday.
  • Can be a challenge dealing with some patients who do not appreciate the importance of dietary restrictions placed on them by their physicians.

 Education: 2 years

 Patient Interaction: High

 Physical Activity: Medium

 Salary: $22,651

 Job Growth: Medium

Getting Started

  • High School Courses
    • Students should take a college preparatory curriculum.
    • Helpful courses would include Home Economics, Health, anatomy & physiology, biology, chemistry, mathematics, Medical Terminology, geometry, Technical Writing, and Economics.
    • Madison Area Technical College (MATC) has these prerequisite courses: 2 semesters of high school upper level science with grade C or better OR 1 semester college level chemistry with grade C or better; Algebra competency test OR 1 semester college level Algebra grade C or better.
  • Education and Training

    • According to the ADA, one must complete at least a two-year Associate’s Degree at a U.S. regionally accredited college or university AND complete a dietetic technician program approved by the Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education (CADE) of the ADA that includes at least 450 hours of supervised practice experience in various community programs, healthcare, and food service facilities.
    • Madison Area Technical College (MATC) offers a two-year Associate Degree that begins every even-year fall semester. They take just 24 students.
    • MATC courses include Nutrition & Body Structure, chemistry, physiology, speech, psychology, Food Service Management and the program includes a practical experience for a total of 571 hours.
    • To keep certification credentials, one must complete continuing professional education requirements.

    Educational Institutions

    Lakeshore Technical College
    Milwaukee Area Technical College

  • Method of Entry
    • Dietetic Technicians complete an Associate Degree Program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Dietetics Education (CADE) of the American Dietetic Association (ADA).
    • They must complete a dietetic internship with a minimum of 450 supervised practice hours in the areas of Food Service Theory and Management, Community Dietetics, and Clinical Dietetics.
    • They must also complete a national registration examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) of the ADA.; they are then certified as Dietetic Technician, Registered (DTR).
    • In addition, some states have current legislation specifying the scope of practice for the DTR.
  • Professional Organizations

    Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
    120 South Riverside Plaza, Suite 2000
    Chicago, IL, 60606-6995
    312/899-0040 or 800/877-1600
    www.eatright.org

    American Nutrition Association
    4707 Willow Springs Rd., Suite 203
    La Grange, IL, 60525
    708/246 – FOOD (3663)
    americannutritionassociation.org/

    American Society for Nutrition
    9650 Rockville Pike
    Bethesda, MD, 20814
    301/634-7050
    www.nutrition.org/

    School Nutrition Association
    120 Waterfront Street, Suite 300
    National Harbor, MD, 20745
    301/686-3100
    www.schoolnutrition.org/

    Wisconsin Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
    563 Carter Court, Suite B
    Kimberly, WI, 54136
    920/560-5619 or 888/232-8631

    www.eatrightwisc.org

Career Outlook

Number Employed in 2014 (Wisconsin): 480
Number Employed in 2014 (U.S.): 29,300
Expected Employment in 2024 (U.S.): 33,200
Percent Employment Growth (2014-2024): 13%
Expected Annual Openings: 680
Median Salary in 2014 (Wisconsin): $22,651

Salary information is located at Career One Stop

Wisconsin AHEC Health Careers Information Center provides the most current salary information available from CareerOneStop. CareerOneStop will have a lapse between when the information is gathered and when it is released.

  • Dietetic technicians work 40 hours a week.
  • Those who are employed in healthcare facilities can work shifts that include early mornings or evening hours, weekends, and holidays, as these facilities never close.
  • Technicians who work for school systems and government agencies usually work normal weekday business hours.
  • Most Dietetic Technicians advance by receiving pay increases as they gain experience.
  • Some Dietetic Technicians become kitchen managers in the food service industry.