Dietitians-Nutritionists and Dietetic Technicians
Standard Occupational Classification #29-1031 Dietitians and Nutritionists
Standard Occupational Classification #29-2051 Dietetic Technicians
SOC Definition Dietitians and Nutritionists #29-1031 -- Plan and conduct food service or nutritional programs to assist in the promotion of health and control of disease. May supervise activities of a department providing quantity food services, counsel individuals, or conduct nutritional research. Examples of other common names in use are public health dietitian; nutrition director; research dietitian.
SOC Definition Dietetic Technicians #29-2051 -- Assist dietitians in the provision of food service and nutritional programs. Under the supervision of dietitians, may plan and produce meals based on established guidelines, teach principles of food and nutrition, or counsel individuals.
Both dietitian-nutritionists and dietetic technicians are classified as health care occupations with the majority working in the health care industry. For dietitians and nutritionists 56 percent work in health care: 32 percent at public and private hospitals, 15 percent in ambulatory care and 9 percent at nursing care facilities. Another 14 percent work for government, 2.8 percent in social assistance services and 2.3 percent in education with very small numbers scattered in other industry sectors. About 15 are classified as self employed.
Dietetic technicians assist dietitians and nutritionists so none are self employed. Eighty percent work in health care: 3 percent in ambulatory care, 50 percent at public and private hospitals, and 27.8 percent at nursing care facilities. Another 11 percent work in government, 3 percent in education and 1.5 percent in social assistance with a few scattered in other sectors.
National employment as dietitians and nutritionists was 58,240 in 2012. Jobs are up from 43,030 since 2000 in a modest but steady increase. Annual average job growth equals 1,268 per year since 2000 at a growth rate of 2.55 percent, significantly higher than the average for all employment. National employment as dietetic technicians was 24,660 in 2012. Jobs are down since 2000 when jobs were 28,010. The annual average job decline equals -279 per year since 2000 at a growth rate of -1.06 percent.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics is forecasting job growth for dietitians and nutritionists at almost the same rate as the last 12 years at 1,270 per year through 2020. Because of anticipated turnover and retirements, openings, or growth plus replacement needs, are expected to be 3,540 a year. Forecast job growth for dietetic technicians is 390 a year through 2020 in spite of the record of decline. Anticipated turnover and retirements are expected to create 810 openings a year.
The recently updated BLS Education and Training Classification assignments lists BA degree skills as necessary for entry into jobs as dietitians and nutritionists. There are 46 states that now require a license or certification or registration through a state office or bureau for dietitians and nutritionists. The American Dietetic Association has a certification credential for those who pass their exam. Employers often prefer candidates with this credential, which is also accepted by state licensing authorities. All these credentials require a BA in dietetics or nutrition. Experience in a related occupation is not necessary, but candidates are generally expected to have an intern or residence program as on the job training to be qualified. Most BA programs include the internship period.
High school degree skills are adequate for dietetic technicians. Experience in a related occupation is not necessary, but qualified candidates need on-the-job experience of 1 to 12 months working with a certified dietitian to be considered fully qualified.
The National Center for Education Statistics reports degree data for America’s colleges and universities that can be compared with job growth and openings. There were 2,734 dietetics and clinical nutrition BA degrees granted in 4 programs in June 2011, the last year of complete degree data. There were also 3,908 BA degrees granted in 4 programs in foods, nutrition and related services and 1,694 BA degrees granted in nutrition sciences offered as part of programs in multi-disciplinary science. The total of BA degrees with relevant preparation to be dietitians and nutritionists comes to 8,336. Master’s degrees in programs with the same titles had 1,928 master’s degrees. Degrees are up in 2011 from previous years. The ratio of relevant BA degree to openings equals 2.35, or 8,336/3,540, assuring more than enough qualified candidates to fill job openings.
The basic wage data from the BLS occupational employment survey includes a wage distribution. Averages are not used much in wage data. A few high wages pull up the average and make it unrepresentative. Instead a distribution range of wages is published with the 10th, 25th, median, 75th, and 90th percentiles of wages. A 10th percentile wage means 10 percent working in this job have wages equal to or less than the 10th percentile wage and so on. Annual wages are converted to hourly wages by dividing annual wages by 2080
The entry wage for the national market in the 10th percentile for dietitians and nutritionists is reported as $34,500 in 2012. The 25th percentile wage equals $44,190. The median wage is $55,240, the 75th percentile wage equals $67,540 and the 90th percentile wage is $77,590.
The wages of dietitians and nutritionists have kept up with inflation for the last decade. For example, to have the buying power of the 2006 median wage of $46,980 in 2012, the dietitian and nutritionist wage would need to be $53,507.57. In stead it was $55,240, a 3.25 percent increase in the real wage for those six years. Other years also show an increase in real wages.
The entry wage for the national market in the 10th percentile for dietetic technicians is reported as $18,070 in 2012. The 25th percentile wage equals $21,000. The median wage is $26,260, the 75th percentile wage equals $34,350 and the 90th percentile wage is $43,460.
The wages of dietetic technicians have not kept up with inflation for the last decade. For example, to have the buying power of the 2006 median wage of $24 040, in 2012, the dietitian and nutritionist wage would need to be $27.378.16. Instead it was $26,260, a 4.08 percent decrease in the real wage for those six years. Other years also show decreasing real wages.
The contrasting performance of wages and employment of the two occupations suggests the licensing requirement has pressured employers to hire certified dietitians over those not certified because dietitians cannot make effective use of a full time assistant very often. Where there is work to share it will be assigned to the much cheaper dietetic technician in order to limit the work and employment of the more expensive dietitian or nutritionist. Notice the high percentage of dietetic technicians that work in hospitals where there is more work to share. In other industries and settings employers with more limited nutrition needs are saving money eliminating dietetic technicians to have their dietitian do all the needed work in nutrition.