Dietary Aide Education And Training Requirements

An aide in a hospital, nursing home, public health facility or school dietary department answers to the licensed dietician who runs the department. Although a college education is not a prerequisite to employment as an aide, a 2-year associates degree may help an aide garner some additional responsibilities such as nutrition counseling as well as higher pay in some cases.

High School Education and College Prerequisites

Students wishing to attend a community college, vocational/technical school, university or online school in pursuit of a nutrition-related degree must have a high school diploma or pass an equivalency exam. Depending on the college or technical school, there may be an entrance exam required as well. High school students considering a career as an aide in a dietary department may want to take biology, chemistry and any nutrition science classes offered in high school.

Associate’s Degree

A student working towards a goal of becoming an aide or technician in a dietary department healthcare facility may want to earn a degree in applied science with an emphasis in dietetic technology. Students usually take courses that teach them how to supervise food production, organize menus according to specific nutritional guidelines, learn how to recognize signs of food-related allergies or illnesses and also how to manage costs in a dietary department. An Associate’s Degree typically requires 2 years to complete with classwork and on-the-job training.

Course Work

When pursuing a 2-year Associates Degree in a dietary-related field, students may start out taking core classes followed by general education classes and finishing with professional courses specific to their field. In addition to the core and general education classes, students may expect to take courses in principles of nutrition, life cycle nutrition, clinical nutrition, food systems management and medical nutrition therapy. Many colleges and vocational schools strive to help students nearing the end of their course of study find employment shortly before graduation.

Online Education

Completing an online degree program is a good way to obtain proper education for a job as a dietary aide. Additionally, there are numerous online programs in nutrition and dietary-related fields for individuals who may be working as dietary aides, but wish to further their careers. Kaplan University actually offers a BS in Nutrition Science. Ashworth College and Penn Foster Career School do not offer degrees, but they both offer courses that lead to a certification in nutrition, diet and health.

Certification and Continuing Education

The American National Standards Institute is an organization that provides accreditation for qualified food handling certification programs. Some states require dietary workers to earn a certification in order to work in dietary departments in hospitals, schools and other facilities. Some Associate’s Degree programs incorporate certification into their programs so that graduates are already certified by the time they receive their degrees. The National Registry of Food Safety Professionals administers the Food Safety Manager Certification Exam as well as continuing education courses needed to renew certifications.

Although a job as an aide in the dietary department of a hospital, nursing home, rehabilitation center or school does not typically require a degree other than a high school diploma, workers may not be eligible for job promotions if they do not further their educations in the area of nutrition and health. Even though a college degree is not required, almost every state requires a valid and current certification for individuals who handle food in a public setting.