If you have a strong interest in nutrition and want to work alongside a Registered Dietitian, a career as a dietetic technician may work for you. A Dietetic Technician, or DTR, is part of a food service team and can assist in menu planning, client nutrition education and data gathering to help nutritionists and doctors understand links between eating habits and disease management. Most DTR jobs are in large facilities like hospitals, nursing homes, prisons, schools and corporate cafeterias, but DTRs also work at smaller ventures, like weight-loss clinics, health clubs and nonprofits.
Enroll in an accredited school that offers the degree of Dietetic Technician. This is typically a two-year associate degree program, which is offered at tech schools. You can complete a bachelor's degree with a concentration in nutrition or dietetics, but this level of schooling is more expensive and not required for a DTR.
Once you've enrolled and declared a major, make sure to visit your academic adviser. This step is very important because the adviser helps ensure that you get on the right path and do not waste precious time taking classes that do not apply to your degree.
Complete the required coursework, which includes 450 hours of supervised practical experience. During this practicum, you spend time with a DTR practicing in the field.
Upon graduating, take the Registration Examination for Dietetic Technicians. You must pass the exam to be considered a DTR.
Acquire the proper license. Most states require some sort of licensing or state certification before you can practice, and some states have strict regulations regarding the specific duties DTRs can perform. Check the Commission on Dietetic Registration's website for current state requirements.
Complete continuing education courses to maintain your registration status. You must complete 50 contact hours of approved coursework every five years. This step is critically important. Failure to do so could result in loss of registration status, and you'd have to retake the exam.