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Become A Certified Dietary Manager

A certified dietary manager (CDM) is responsible for the day-to-day operations of a foodservice department. They can find work opportunities with restaurants and corporations, but most work in public facilities, such as hospitals, school cafeterias and senior living facilities. CDMs plan menus, order food, manage staff, ensure food safety and maintain quality control of the operation. In some instances, they work with dietitians or nutritionists. As recently as 2012, the Association of Nutrition and Foodservice Professionals (ANFP) noted that the fastest growing area in dietary management was eldercare. Weekend and evening work hours might be required.

Postsecondary training programs range in length and include an associate's or bachelor's degree in fields such as culinary arts, food service management or nutrition. Aspiring dietary managers will then want to gain related work experience and prepare for the licensing or certification exams. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a median annual salary of $48,690 for food serviced managers in May 2015.

Career Requirements

A minimum of a High School Diploma is all that is required.

Key Skills Strong verbal/written communication and leadership skills; knowledge of food safety laws

Salary$48,690 (2015 median for food service managers)

Sources: Association of Nutrition and Foodservice Professionals, State government websites, U.S.Bureau of Labor Statistics

To become a certified dietary manager, you need an associate's or bachelor's degree in nutrition, food service management or culinary arts. You'll also need strong verbal and written communication skills, leadership skills and knowledge of food safety laws. Some states, including Florida, require licensure or certification. The CDM credential is sought after by most employers.

Steps to Become a Certified Dietary Manager

Let's see what steps you'll need to take to become a certified dietary manager.

Step 1: Complete a Training Program

To become eligible to take the CDM exam, one might earn an associate's or bachelor's degree in nutrition, foodservice management or culinary arts. Other options include completing an Association of Nutrition and Foodservice Professionals (ANFP)-approved dietary training program or a military dietary management training program. These degree and training programs typically include courses in food safety, nutrition, human resource management and foodservices. They also might require an internship.

Step 2: Earn Certification

The CDM exam includes 200 multiple-choice questions covering such topics as food safety, personnel management, business operations, nutrition and food services, among others. If a candidate is not a member of the ANFP, he or she will need to apply for certification after passing the exam; ANFP members are automatically awarded certification. CDMs must maintain their certification through continuing education credits.

Step 3: Meet Any State Requirements

In Florida, all Dietary Managers must be certified as food service managers. While other states don't require a credential, they do require that certain healthcare facilities, such as hospitals and nursing homes, have a dietitian/nutritionist, diet tech or qualified Military food service supervisor or a CDM on their staff.

Step 4: Gain Experience

The greatest number of job opportunities are available to dietary managers with several years' experience in the food service field, often gained through working entry-level positions as a cook or dining room attendant. Upscale restaurants prefer to hire dietary managers with several years of experience and a bachelor's degree in culinary arts or nutrition.

To become a certified dietary manager, you have to complete a training program, earn the CDM designation and meet any state requirements.

What type of Food Establishments are required to have a Certified Food Manager?

Food service establishments as defined in section 381.0072,Florida Statutes, are required to meet manager certification requirements, unless otherwise exempted. All establishments required to have a certified food manager shall designate, in writing, the food service manager or managers for each location. The establishments include, but are not limited to:

  • Public and Private Schools using a contracted food service provider (i.e. food workers not employed by the school)

  • Fraternal organizations

  • Mobile Food Units and Caterers that are required to maintain a Department of Health food Sanitation Certificate

  • Detention facilities

Residential Facilities that are required to maintain a Department of Health food certificate, such as, but not limited to:  

  • Assisted Living Facilities

  • Non-Residential

  • Hospices

  • Adult Day Cares

  • Intermediate Care Facility for the Developmentally disabled (ICFDD)

  • Prescribed Pediatric Extended Care (PPEC)

The following types of food service establishments are exempted from Department of Health manager certification requirements:

  • Bars and lounges

  • Public and private schools (provided that the food service is operated by school employees)

  • Civic Organizations

  • Theaters that are required to maintain a Department of Health Food Certificate. 

Nutrition Unlimited has CDM training programs for both Individuals & Institutions

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