What is a Dietetic Technician?

a dietetic technician giving a nutritional consultation

Happy Tuesday! Wherever you are, whatever kind of day you’re having, whether you know what a dietetic technician is or not, things will get better. Don’t stress too much and if you aren’t stressing, celebrate that! Just felt like one of y’all needed to hear that today.

While the general public barely knows what an RD does, I think Dietetic Technicians, Registered (DTRs) are less known, even within the RD2Be community. For example, before this article, I knew that a DTR was a more easily available option in dietetics than an RD. But that was about it. The what’s and why’s of a DTR’s job were a mystery to me. And if they are for you too, it’s okay, because this post will explain all about that!

The Basics of a Dietetic Technician

If you want to learn more about something, go to its creator. In the case of the DTR, that’s the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND). Based on their website, a DTR is like an RD, but with fewer responsibilities. Depending on their job setting, they sometimes assist dietitians. And although they are similar to RDs, DTRs may or may not have a similar education plan to dietitians.

The Academy has created two routes to becoming a dietetic technician. The first would be to complete a two-year Dietetic Technician Program that culminates in a 450 hour internship. However, AND also allows anyone who’s completed an undergrad in dietetics through a Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) or Coordinated Program (CP) to take the exam with no extra internship. In either circumstance, once a student has completed all requirements, they are eligible to take the DTR exam.

What does a Dietetic Technician Do?

A dietetic technician can use their credentials to work in many places with varying responsibilities. Traditionally, DTRs work in medical settings as part of a healthcare team. When employed by hospitals, clinics, or long-term care facilities, a DTR works closely with an RD. Day-to-day duties may include creating menus, educating patients, and completing nutritional assessments and screenings. Dietetic technicians do not, however, have the education to coordinate medical nutrition therapy for patients.

Other options for dietetic technicians include:

  • Organizations and corporations that have a food service element, such as schools, hospitals, day-care centers, and correctional facilities. A DTR has the experience to manage employees, oversee food purchasing, and handle other responsibilities of running a food service operation.
  • Community settings, such as WIC, Meals on Wheels, and public health facilities. Here, a dietetic technician works with any registered dietitians on creating programs and presentations.
  • Wellness-related settings such as health and fitness centers, and weight management clinics. DTRs can use their knowledge to educate clients on optimal nutrition to better their lifestyle.
  • Food service contract companies and distributors. A dietetic technician has the skills to manage orders and oversee food safety.

What Would Be a Good Reason to Pursue a DTR?

Becoming a dietetic technician, or at least taking the DTR exam, might be right for you if you…

  • Want to learn more about the world of nutrition, but don’t want four years of school plus a dietetic internship
  • Have no interest in medical nutrition therapy
  • Want a more credible job in between your undergrad and dietetic internship
  • Need practice for the RD exam (pro tip: the DTR and RD exams have a similar style. Taking the DTR would allow you to see what the RD exam is like if that’s in your future)

Interested in Learning More?

Here are some websites I used for research or didn’t link to that you might find useful!

Until next time,
Emmalee

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