If you are interested in working in nutrition and dietetics but can’t commit to getting a master’s degree, whether for financial, lifestyle, or other reasons, you might consider becoming a Nutrition and Dietetics Technician, Registered (NDTR). The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics also refers to these technical professionals Dietetics Technicians, Registered (DTR). No matter what they are called, they are a crucial part of any nutrition and dietetics team.
NDTRs may work under the supervision of a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) and may provide direct patient or client nutrition care. They may also work independently. No matter where they work, in order to use the NDTR credentials, they must meet strict criteria of the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR). This specifies the education, experience, and examination requirements that must be fulfilled to earn those credentials. Generally, an associate degree is sufficient to become a NDTR, although some have a bachelor’s degree.
Here, for your further consideration, we will discuss the duties of and requirements to become an NDTR.
Duties of a Nutrition and Dietetics Technician, Registered
As the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) has noted, the scope of practice of a NDTR may grow with advances in nutrition, food production, food systems management, food safety, health care, public and community health, and information technology. AND has created a revised (in 2017) Scope of Practice for the NDTR, taking this into account. One tenet of the scope of practice of the NDTR that has not changed is the fact that they work under the supervision of an RDN when they are working in direct patient or client nutrition care. NDTRs may also work independently when providing general nutrition education to healthy people, consulting with food service business and industry, conducting analysis of nutrients, collecting data, conducting research, and managing food and nutrition services.
Each NDTR has their own individual scope of practice, determined by their education, graining, credentialing and experience, as well as the competence they have demonstrated in practice. NDTRs work at the technical level of nutrition and dietetics practice, which deals with a general understanding of the scientific foundations of the practice. Their status is determined through completion of educational, experiential and examination requirements, which are discussed in the next section.
How to Become a Nutrition and Dietetics Technician, Registered
A minimum of an associate degree is necessary in order to become a NDTR, but according to ACEND, about 40 percent of current NDTRs have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher. The CDR and ACEND have stated that the following criteria must be met in order to become a NDTR:
- You may complete an ACEND-accredited NDTR program (click here to see our list of these programs). This program will include 450 hours of supervised practice and a minimum of an associate degree in nutrition, dietetics or a related area.
- You may complete an ACEND-accredited didactic program (DPD) or coordinated program (CP) in dietetics and a bachelor’s degree (click here to see our list of accredited programs).
- You must pass the CDR’s registration examination for NDTRs. This examination covers:
- Nutrition Science and Care for Individuals and Groups
- Food Science and Food Service
- Management of Food and Nutrition Services
If you already possess a degree that is not in dietetics, and wish to become a NDTR, you must have your college transcript evaluated by at least one director of an ACEND-accredited NDTR program. The director will identify which courses you stil need to take in order to become an NDTR.
After meeting the requirements above, you will be considered a NDTR and may use those credentials. You must fulfill the Academy’s professional requirements for continuing education in order to maintain your credentials.
You might still need to become registered or licensed in the state in which you wish to practice, however. Each state has its own laws and regulations regarding this. As of 2022, just Maine requires NDTRs to be licensed, and California offers title protection for NDTRs.
Work Settings for Nutrition and Dietetics Technicians, Registered
NDTRs may work in a wide variety of settings, either under the supervision of an RDN or independently, depending upon the job. Most of these settings will require that NDTRs are credentialed, as described above, and meet all of the requirements necessary for those credentials. Job settings include, but are not limited to:
- Medical centers, clinics, long-term care facilities, hospices, home health care programs, research facilities helping to treat and prevent disease. In these settings, NDTRs may screen patients, gather data and assist the RDN in a variety of ways in providing medical nutrition therapy
- Schools, day care centers, restaurants, correctional institutions, corporations. Here, NDTRs may manage other employees, purchase and prepare foods, and help to prepare foodservice operations budgets.
- Public health agencies, community nutrition programs, community health programs. Within these settings, NDTRs may develop and teach nutrition classes for the public.
- Health clubs, community wellness centers, weight management clinics. In these settings, NDTRs may help educate clients how food affects overall fitness and health.
- Food companies, food management companies, food vending and distribution companies. In these settings, NDTRs may help to develop menus, oversee food service sanitation and food safety practices and prepare food labels and nutrient analysis.
Salaries of Nutrition and Dietetics Technicians, Registered
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2021, the mean annual wage for a Dietetic Technician is $34,160. Those earning in the 75th percentile averaged $37,200; while those in the 90thpercentile averaged $47,120.
The top-paying industries in which NDTRs work are outpatient care centers, where they average $43,580 annually; offices of physicians, where they average $42,060 per year; grantmaking and giving services, where they average $41,280 per year; offices of other healthcare practitioners, where NDTRs average $40,040 annually; and colleges, universities and professional schools, where they average $39,990 annually.
Jobs for NDTRs are projected to grow by seven percent, as fast as the average expected growth for all occupations, from 2020 to 2030, per the BLS. View more Dietitian Salaries.
Other Credentials That Dietetics Technicians May Hold
After becoming a credentialed NDTR, a dietetics technician may also seek optional related specialized certifications, depending upon their interests and career plans or specializations. Earning these certifications may also count towards your continuing professional education requirements with CDR. Certifications include, but are not limited to:
- Certified in Family and Consumer Sciences (CFCS), by the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (this certification requires a bachelor’s degree)
- ACSM-Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) and ACSM-Certified Health/Fitness Specialist (HFS), by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)
- ACE-Certified Personal Trainer, ACE-Certified Group Fitness Instructor, and ACE-Certified Advanced Health & Fitness Specialist, by the American Council on Exercise (ACE)
- Certified Fundamentals Cook (CFC), Certified Culinary Educator (CCE), and Certified Secondary Culinary Educator (CSCE), by the American Culinary Federation Institute for Credentialing Excellence (the second and third credentials require a bachelor’s degree)
- Certified Dietary Manager (CDM), Certified Food Protection Professional (CFPP) by the Certifying Board of Dietary Managers-Association of Nutrition & Foodservice Professionals
- International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners, Inc.
- Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) by the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc. (requires a bachelor’s degree)
- Certified Professional-Food Safety (CP-FS) by the National Environmental Health Association
- School Nutrition Specialist (SNS) by the School Nutrition Association
Coach credentials or certifications, as well as certificates of training in weight management, are also available to NDTRs.