How Do I Become a Certified Dietary Manager?

Kenneth W. Michael Wills

Workers in the food service industry wanting to become a certified dietary manager (CDM) have a few different options in order to earn the qualification. The qualification itself involves qualifying for, taking and passing the CDM exam given by the Association of Nutrition and Foodservice Professionals (ANFP), known as the Dietary Managers Association (DMA) before 1 January 2012. Qualifying to take the exam will require either a college degree, graduation from a military dietary manager training with the rank of E-5, completion of a dietary training program accredited by the DMA, or graduation from a state-approved 90-hour service in foodservice management. Upon passing the exam, candidates must go through an activation process in order to use the CDM credential.

Woman posing
Woman posing

Candidates who want to become CDMs and hold certain college degrees are eligible to sit for the exam. Such applicants will need either an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree in foodservice management or nutrition. Other degrees that qualify an applicant include a two-year culinary degree or an associate’s degree in hotel-restaurant management. A candidate holding one of the aforementioned degrees simply needs to submit transcripts along with the required application, in order to take the exam to become a certified dietary manager.

Military personnel who have progressed to the rank of E-5 or above and have graduated from a military dietary manager training program may also sit for the exam. Documentation of military training and proof of pay grade is required to do so, and in most cases the exam fees are covered under the Montgomery GI Bill. ANFP will make the final determination regarding eligibility upon reviewing the provided documentation.

Graduation from an ANFP accredited dietary program will also qualify an individual to take the CDM exam. All applicants in this category must appear on the program's graduate list, and the applicant will need to submit proof of successfully completing the training program. Graduates from state approved food-service programs of 90 hours or more are eligible to take the CDM exam to become a certified dietary manager. Two years of experience in institutional food service is required after graduation, however, before gaining consideration to take the exam.

After an applicant sits for and passes the exam to become a certified dietary manager, he or she will need to activate the certification. For those who are already members of the ANFP activation is automatic. If a non-member or student member, however, he or she must sign-up or upgradn order to use the credential professionally. Examinees passing the exam can expect a letter in the mail explaining the various membership levels and the corresponding fees.

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