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How Do I Become a Dietary Aide?

A dietary aide helps cook healthy meals, often in health care or school settings.
A dietary aide may work with chefs to create healthy menus.
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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 07 November 2014
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The main requirement for a person who wants to become a dietary aide is a high school diploma. A person in this field may also secure a job after earning a General Educational Development (GED) diploma or an acceptable equivalent. A person interested in this job usually needs good communication, reading, and math skills, and the ability to stand, walk about, and lift heavy items throughout his workday as well.

A dietary aide is a person who helps cooks and other staff members plan, prepare, and serve healthy meals. People in this field often find work in health care facilities, such as hospitals and nursing homes as well as in school settings. Dietary aides help create menus, usually concentrating on nutritious foods. They may also keep records of patient diets and communicate with other staff members regarding specific dietary needs. Often, they ensure food is served in a clean, appetizing manner, assist with food-related sanitation, and help prepare facility kitchens for inspections.

After graduating from high school or earning a GED, a person who wants to become a dietary aide won’t usually need specific training. Generally, a person interested in this field receives on-the-job training instead. He may obtain related training, however, by taking nutrition and food-service-related courses at a community college. Some vocational schools offer such courses as well.

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In some places, a person who wants work as a dietary aide also needs to obtain food-safety certification. If this is required, it’s usually not a very lengthy process. To learn the criteria for certification, a prospective aide may contact his jurisdiction’s health department.

A person who wants to become a dietary aide must be in good general health. If he has any communicable diseases, he isn’t a good candidate for this job. Good health is also needed for the standing, walking, and bending that is usually required throughout the day. A person in this field may also have to lift heavy weight, including boxes of food and supplies that can weigh 50 pounds (22.67 kilograms) or more. Additionally, a person in this field must be able to withstand temperature fluctuations, such as when walking into a large freezer or using an oven.

Math, reading and writing, and verbal communication skills are also important for a person who wants to become a dietary aide. He may have to read and write diet records, menus, and recipes, using math to adjust quantities as necessary. He’ll likely also have to communicate not only with the staff of the facility in which he works, but also with the patients or other people he helps to serve.

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