Nutritional Science Career Path: Certified Dietary Manager

Student pursuing nutritional science career

Nutritional science is a continually evolving field fueled by a growing body of research and emerging applications. It is an ideal choice for students passionate about food science or health who desire to help others make positive lifestyle changes through food choices. It’s also an ideal choice for those who are interested in food operations and preparation and desire to learn more about this side of nutritional science. If this sounds like you, a nutritional science career is one of the paths you could pursue. Keep reading to learn more about how to begin a career in food operations and become a certified dietary manager.

What Is Nutritional Science?

Nutritional scientists study how diseases and other medical problems can be prevented and managed through diet. By studying how the body responds to and benefits from certain foods, nutritionists can guide patients in improving their nutrition for better health.

There are many topics within nutritional science that are important for an aspiring professional to understand, such as food science. While food science draws knowledge from many scientific disciplines, it is a field that focuses on understanding the processes of food and improving food products for the public.1 This includes exploration of how ingredients interact with each other, the use and regulation of food additives, food safety and the food system and its sustainability. Topics like this are especially important for those in food operations and preparation, such as a certified dietary manager.

What Is a Certified Dietary Manager?

The main responsibility of a certified dietary manager is to oversee the day-to-day operations of a food service department. This includes the following tasks:2

  • Planning menus
  • Managing staff
  • Ensuring food safety
  • Ordering food
  • Maintaining quality control

These professionals are mostly employed at public facilities, including in school cafeterias, hospitals and senior living facilities.2 Some certified dietary managers work in restaurants as well. They are also in charge of documenting nutritional information and implementing nutritional principles in the workplace.3

How To Become a Certified Dietary Manager

If you’re interested in becoming a certified dietary manager, there are several steps you can take to effectively pursue your future career.

Earning a Nutritional Science Degree

The best undergraduate degrees for an aspiring certified dietary manager are a bachelor’s degree in nutritional science or a related field. This degree program will lay the foundations of nutrition, exploring topics such as food sciences and nutritional research. Additionally, you will have the opportunity to get hands-on experience in the nutrition profession. 

Obtaining Certification

Although not always required by employers, a logical next step after earning your undergraduate degree is obtaining a relevant certification. The Association of Nutrition & Foodservice Professionals (ANFP®) offers a specific certification for aspiring certified dietary managers. The Certified Dietary Manager, Certified Food Protection Profession (CDM®, CFPP®) certification shows employers that you are able to provide quality nutritional care in a variety of settings and can perform the specialized tasks necessary for foodservice operation.3

This certification also adheres to the standards of the Certifying Board for Dietary Managers® (CBDM®), meaning that, when you earn this certification as an aspiring CDM, you will learn the skills necessary for expertly managing foodservice operations and ensuring food safety.3

According to the ANFP®, earning this certification will demonstrate competency in the following areas:2

  • Nutrition
  • Foodservice
  • Personnel and communications
  • Sanitation and safety
  • Business operations

Gaining Experience

In addition to obtaining a certification, gaining experience is necessary for becoming a certified dietary manager.2 As with most managerial jobs, you will need experience in the industry before you can advance to this position.

If you’re starting out in the nutritional science field, and you want to work toward becoming a certified dietary manager, start by looking for relevant entry-level jobs in the field. Specifically, a job in food service will help you gain the necessary skills for becoming a CDM.

Grand Canyon University aims to provide an exceptional academic experience for every student. If you would like more information about GCU's medical studies and science degree programs, including the Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Science program, visit the College of Science, Engineering and Technology or click on the Request More Information button at the top of this page. 

Retrieved from:

1Insitution of Food Technologists, Learn About Food Science in November 2021, Become a Certified Dietary Manager: Education and Career Roadmap in October 2021

3Association of Nutrition & Foodservice Professionals, CDM, CFPP Credential in October 2021 

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.

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