Dietary Aide Job Description

Dietary aides prepare and serve food based on the nutritional needs of their patients. Typically working in hospitals, nursing homes, and senior care homes, their patients are usually those who are elderly or ill. This position is usually offered full-time; however, it is also possible to find part-time work in this field. Hours may include early mornings, late nights, and weekends. An entry-level position, dietary aides usually report to a dietary supervisor. Those who enjoy helping others and have an interest in dietary regulations find the most satisfaction in this job.


Dietary Aide Duties and Responsibilities


Dietary Assistant
2014 - Present

UCSF Medical Center

Managing storage and handling of diet products and kitchen supplies.

Assisted in cooking, cleaning, preparing and serving of meals.

Reported complaints, changes, patient demands and needs to senior management.

Serving food as prescribed in menu lists and portioning them to patients.

While a dietary aide’s day-to-day duties and tasks are determined by where they work, there are many core responsibilities associated with the role. Based on our analysis of job listings, these include:

Inspect Food Trays

Dietary aides inspect food trays to ensure their patients are receiving the correct meal. They make sure that their patients’ needs are addressed in their meals and that their meals are in line with their proposed diets.

Prepare Food

Following recipes, dietary aides prepare and cook food for their patients. They work in the kitchen, preparing food in a clean and sanitary manner.

Clean Food Areas

In addition to collecting and cleaning trays, dietary aides make sure that all kitchen and dining areas are clean. They wipe surfaces and sanitize as necessary. They also properly dispose of food waste and ensure that plates and utensils are not contaminated.

Maintain Inventory

Dietary aides make sure that all the necessary ingredients are in stock. They keep track of what is in the kitchen and what needs to be replenished. When meat or produce expires, dietary aides make sure they are thrown out.

Assessing Patient Needs

Dietary aides understand the needs of their patients; they ensure their meal plans offer a well-balanced and nutritious diet. They take note of food allergies and prepare food in line with patient needs.


Dietary Aide Skills and Qualifications

Professional Skills

Highly experienced in kitchen management and freezer control.

Profound knowledge of ovens, cooking devices, and storage equipment.

Solid understanding of chemicals, spices, compounds, and mixtures.

Amazing ability to understand instructions given by physicians and nurses.

Often working with those who are elderly or ill, dietary aides have a passion for helping others. There are no educational requirements for this position, but many employers prefer candidates who have a high school diploma and at least one year of experience. In addition, the following skills and qualifications are essential to the job:

  • Physical dexterity – dietary aides prepare food, push carts, and carry trays, requiring physical dexterity and the ability to lift, pull, push, and bend as needed
  • Hygienic practices – handling food, dietary aides ensure that all sanitation procedures and rules for hygiene are followed, such as frequently washing their hands and keeping their appearance clean and tidy
  • Time management – dietary aides stick to strict meal schedules; they always arrive to work on time and make sure that their patients are fed at their designated hours, maintaining a schedule for food preparation and serving
  • Food handling experience – dietary aides follow directions and recipes for preparing food, using appropriate tools and utensils; they understand the rules and regulations involved in cooking
  • Friendly demeanor – interacting with guests and patients, dietary aides have a personable and friendly demeanor, creating a positive experience and maintaining a healthy relationship with their patients


Dietary Aide Education and Training

There are no educational requirements for this position, but some employers prefer candidates with a high school diploma. Employers also look for applicants with one to two years of experience in food handling, nutritional care, and hospitality service. Dietary aides should have a food handler’s permit depending on the state they are in. Training is typically provided on the job for new employees. Additionally, employers may provide a guide to rules and regulations involved with food handling.


Dietary Aide Salary and Outlook

Dietary aides, classified by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as “dietetic technicians,” earn an annual salary of $26,000. The lowest ten percent of dietary aides earn less than $18,000. Meanwhile, the highest ten percent of dietary aides earn more than $45,000. The industries with the highest salaries for dietary aides are medical and surgical hospitals and nursing homes.


Helpful Resources

Are you interested in a career as a dietary aide? You can learn more about this job with these helpful resources:

Food Grads – This blog contains information for those who work in the food industry. Useful topics covered include nutritional information, food regulations, and food styling. This blog also contains helpful advice on finding a job in the food industry.

Food Health Legal – Dietary aides pay careful attention to their patients’ diets. Providing useful information for those who are interested in dietary regulations, this blog offers information on health claims, food supplements, and organic foods.

Prescription for Dietary Wellness – Written by Phyllis A. Balch, this book discusses the way food can be used to promote health. With helpful information on antioxidants, immunity, and juicing, this book guides readers to create a diet plan that enhances their well-being.

Intensive Dietary Management – With articles on cancer, green tea, protein, sugar, and dieting, this blog contains information for those who are looking to learn about how healthy diets contribute to health.

What We Feed Our PatientsWritten by Jim McGrody, who has worked in the food service industry for 27 years, this book discusses the way food is served in hospitals. McGrody offers insight into this industry and explains the importance of hospital food being not only nutritious but also delicious.


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