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Top 10 Caterer Certifications

This article provides an overview of the most recognized and respected caterer certifications available.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 17 min read

Certifications are important for caterers in the job market because they demonstrate the caterer’s knowledge, experience and commitment to their profession. Certifications help employers understand a caterer’s skill set and qualifications, as well as provide assurance that the caterer is competent in food safety and sanitation procedures. Having certifications can also open doors to more employment opportunities and increase earning potential.

The purpose of this article is to review some of the top certifications for Caterers and explain how they can help further a caterer's career.

What are Caterer Certifications?

Caterer certification is a form of qualification that demonstrates a professional caterer's level of knowledge and expertise in the field. It is typically awarded by an industry organization or a government body, such as the National Restaurant Association or the American Culinary Federation. Certification can be beneficial for both caterers and their clients as it provides assurance that the caterer is knowledgeable about food safety, sanitation, proper food handling techniques, menu planning, and more.

For caterers, having certification can increase their opportunities for employment in the catering industry. It also gives them an edge over other competitors when seeking new clients. Being certified can also help caterers gain credibility with potential customers who are looking for experienced professionals who understand the latest food safety and sanitation standards.

For customers, having a certified caterer can help ensure that all aspects of their event will be handled professionally and safely. This includes everything from preparing dishes to adhering to health codes and regulations. Certified caterers have also been trained to plan menus according to dietary restrictions and preferences while still creating delicious meals that guests will enjoy. With certification, customers have peace of mind knowing they are working with an experienced professional who has met certain qualifications set forth by an industry-recognized organization or government body.

Pro Tip: When looking for a caterer, always make sure they are certified. Certification ensures that the caterer has received proper training and is knowledgeable about food safety regulations. This will help ensure your event goes smoothly and that your guests are served safe, high-quality meals.

Related: What does a Caterer do?

Top 10 Caterer Certifications

Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Caterers today.

1. Professional Caterer Certification (PCC)

Professional Caterer Certification (PCC) is a certification program designed to recognize and promote excellence in the catering industry. It is awarded by the National Association of Catering Executives (NACE). The PCC designation is a mark of distinction that recognizes caterers who demonstrate exceptional knowledge, skill, and professionalism in their field.

The PCC certification process typically takes between 6-12 months to complete. Applicants must first complete an online application and submit it to NACE for review. Once accepted into the program, applicants must pass an exam that covers topics such as food safety, sanitation, menu design, event planning, and customer service. After passing the exam, applicants will receive their PCC certificate.

The cost to become certified varies depending on the type of membership you select with NACE. For non-members, there is a $250 fee for the application and exam. For members of NACE, there is no fee for the application or exam but there may be additional costs associated with attending seminars or workshops related to catering offered through NACE.

In addition to receiving their PCC certificate upon successful completion of the program, certified professionals are eligible for discounts on products from leading catering vendors and access to exclusive networking events hosted by NACE.

2. Certified Executive Chef (CEC)

Certified Executive Chef (CEC) is a professional certification awarded by the American Culinary Federation (ACF). It is the highest level of culinary certification available in the United States. The CEC designation recognizes chefs who have achieved a high level of professional expertise in both culinary arts and business management.

In order to become certified, an individual must meet certain criteria set forth by the ACF. This includes having at least five years of work experience as an executive chef, passing an ACF-approved examination, and completing a minimum number of continuing education hours each year.

The process to become certified typically takes between one and two years, depending on how quickly an individual can complete all of the necessary requirements. The cost to become certified varies depending on the type of exam taken and any additional fees associated with it. Generally speaking, it can range from $300-$500 for the initial application fee plus any additional fees associated with taking the exam.

3. Certified Special Events Professional (CSEP)

Certified Special Events Professional (CSEP) is an accreditation program offered by the International Live Events Association (ILEA). It is designed to recognize and reward individuals who have achieved a high level of expertise in the field of event planning. The CSEP designation is recognized as a mark of excellence among event planners, suppliers, and employers.

To become a Certified Special Events Professional, applicants must meet certain criteria including: having five years of experience in the events industry; passing an online exam; completing a portfolio review; and attending an ILEA-approved educational course. The exam covers topics such as event planning, marketing, budgeting, risk management, and more.

The process typically takes around six months to complete from start to finish. Applicants must first submit their application with supporting documents such as proof of experience and education. Once approved, they can register for the online exam which will test their knowledge on various aspects of event planning. After passing the exam, they will need to submit their portfolio for review by ILEA staff members. Finally, they must attend an ILEA-approved educational course before being awarded the CSEP designation.

The cost of becoming a Certified Special Events Professional varies depending on the country you are applying from but generally ranges from $500-$1,000 USD. This includes registration fees for both the online exam and educational course as well as any additional costs associated with submitting your portfolio for review.

4. Certified Dietary Manager (CDM)

A Certified Dietary Manager (CDM) is a professional certification designed to recognize the specialized knowledge and skills of dietary managers in long-term care, acute care, and other health care facilities. The CDM credential is awarded by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR), part of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND).

To become certified as a Dietary Manager, applicants must have at least a bachelor's degree in dietetics or related field and have completed an accredited dietary manager program. Those without an accredited degree may be eligible for certification if they have five years of full-time experience in food service management in a health care setting.

The CDM exam consists of multiple-choice questions covering topics such as nutrition principles, food service operations, personnel management, safety and sanitation, menu planning, budgeting/cost control, and regulations/standards. The exam takes approximately four hours to complete.

The cost to take the CDM exam is $200 for AND members or $300 for nonmembers. In addition to the exam fee, there is also a one-time application fee of $50 for AND members or $75 for nonmembers.

5. ServSafe Food Handler Certification

ServSafe Food Handler Certification is a certification program offered by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF). It is designed to help food service workers understand and practice safe food handling and preparation techniques. The program provides a comprehensive overview of basic food safety principles, including proper handwashing, temperature control, cross-contamination prevention, and other important topics.

The ServSafe Food Handler Certification course typically takes between two to three hours to complete. The course is available online or in-person at participating locations. Online courses are self-paced and include interactive activities, videos, quizzes, and more. In-person courses provide hands-on instruction from a certified instructor.

To get the ServSafe Food Handler Certification, you must pass an exam with a score of 75% or higher. After completing the exam, you will receive your certificate via email within 24 hours. You can also purchase an official hard copy of your certificate for an additional fee.

The cost of the ServSafe Food Handler Certification varies depending on where you take it and if you choose to purchase an official hard copy of your certificate. Online courses typically range from $15 to $25 while in-person classes may cost up to $50 or more.

6. National Restaurant Association ServSafe Manager Certification

The National Restaurant Association ServSafe Manager Certification is a comprehensive food safety training program designed to help protect the public from foodborne illness. This certification provides restaurant managers with the knowledge and skills necessary to ensure that their establishments are safe and sanitary. The program covers topics such as food safety regulations, food handling techniques, personal hygiene, pest control, and cleaning and sanitizing.

The National Restaurant Association ServSafe Manager Certification requires a minimum of 8 hours of instruction in a classroom setting or online course. The course includes an exam at the end which must be passed in order to receive the certification. Upon successful completion of the exam, participants will receive a certificate valid for five years.

To get certified, individuals must first register for the ServSafe Manager Certification Course through the National Restaurant Association website or by calling 800-765-2122. After completing the course, individuals must pass an exam to receive their certification.

The cost of the course varies depending on whether it is taken online or in person. The online version costs $125 plus applicable taxes while the in-person class costs $175 plus applicable taxes.

7. American Culinary Federation Certified Culinarian (CC)

The American Culinary Federation Certified Culinarian (CC) is a professional certification program for cooks, chefs, and other foodservice professionals. It is the highest level of certification offered by the ACF and is recognized as an industry standard for excellence in culinary skills and knowledge.

To become a Certified Culinarian, one must have at least two years of full-time work experience in the culinary field and pass a comprehensive exam. The exam covers topics such as nutrition, sanitation, safety, menu planning, purchasing, cost control, and more. To maintain certification status, continuing education credits must be earned every five years.

The cost to take the exam varies depending on your membership status with the ACF. For non-members it costs $350; for members it costs $275; and for student members it costs $175.

It typically takes between three to six months to prepare for the exam. During this time you should study all areas of culinary knowledge including nutrition, sanitation and safety regulations, menu planning and costing principles, purchasing procedures and inventory control methods. You can also attend workshops or seminars that focus on these topics or take online courses from accredited institutions.

Once you have completed your studies you can register to take the exam with the ACF website or by mail/fax/email using their downloadable application form. Once you have passed the exam you will receive your official CC certificate from the ACF which is valid for five years before needing renewal through continuing education credits.

8. American Culinary Federation Certified Executive Chef (CEC)

The American Culinary Federation Certified Executive Chef (CEC) is a professional certification awarded to chefs who have achieved the highest level of culinary excellence. The CEC credential is recognized by the culinary industry as a mark of excellence and achievement.

To become a Certified Executive Chef, an individual must have at least five years of professional experience in the culinary field, including two years in a supervisory role. The candidate must also complete a minimum of 250 hours of continuing education or training in foodservice management and/or culinary arts within the past five years.

The CEC examination consists of two parts: a written exam and a practical cooking test. The written exam covers topics such as food safety, nutrition, menu planning, cost control, purchasing and storage methods, sanitation procedures, personnel management and other related topics. The practical cooking test includes preparing four dishes from scratch in three hours or less.

The cost for taking the CEC exam is $400 for ACF members and $600 for non-members. Candidates are encouraged to study for the exam using ACF-approved study materials which can be purchased separately from the exam fee.

Once certified, CECs must maintain their credentials by completing at least 75 continuing education credits every three years and paying an annual renewal fee of $50 for members or $75 for non-members.

9. Professional Chef Certification from the American Culinary Federation Education Foundation

The American Culinary Federation Education Foundation (ACFEF) Professional Chef Certification is a nationally recognized credential that demonstrates an individual’s commitment to the culinary profession and mastery of the culinary arts. This certification is designed to recognize those who have achieved a high level of knowledge, skill, and experience in the culinary field.

To become certified as a Professional Chef by the ACFEF, individuals must complete a rigorous process which includes passing an exam that covers topics such as food safety, nutrition, menu planning, and kitchen management. The exam consists of both written and practical components and takes approximately six hours to complete. Additionally, applicants must have at least three years of professional cooking experience or have completed an accredited culinary program from a post-secondary institution.

In order to apply for the ACFEF Professional Chef Certification, individuals must submit an application form along with proof of their work experience or educational background. Once approved, applicants will be required to pay an examination fee which currently stands at $450 USD. After passing the exam, applicants will receive their certification within four weeks.

Overall, becoming certified as a Professional Chef through the ACFEF can take several months depending on how quickly one completes their application process and studies for the exam. The cost of obtaining this certification is $450 USD plus any applicable fees associated with submitting one’s application form.

10. HACCP Food Safety Certification

HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) Food Safety Certification is a system used to identify, evaluate, and control food safety hazards. It is based on the principles of hazard analysis and risk-based preventive controls. This certification ensures that food products are safe for consumption by identifying potential risks and implementing preventive measures.

It typically takes between 6-12 months to obtain HACCP Food Safety Certification, depending on the size of the organization and the complexity of their processes. Organizations must first create an HACCP plan, which includes identifying potential food safety hazards, analyzing them, establishing critical control points (CCPs), monitoring CCPs, verifying CCPs, taking corrective action when necessary, and documenting all activities. Once the plan is complete, organizations can apply for certification from a third-party certifying body such as NSF International or Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI).

The cost of obtaining HACCP Food Safety Certification depends on several factors including the size of the organization, number of employees involved in the process, type of product being certified, and any additional services required. Generally speaking, it can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars.

In addition to obtaining certification from a third-party certifying body, organizations may also need to implement additional procedures such as training staff in food safety practices or investing in new equipment or technology to ensure compliance with HACCP standards.

Do You Really Need a Caterer Certificate?

When it comes to catering, having a caterer certificate can be beneficial in many ways. A caterer certificate is proof that you have the necessary knowledge and skills to provide clients with delicious meals. It also indicates that you are able to handle the logistics of running a successful catering business.

Having a caterer certificate can help you stand out from other caterers and show potential customers that you are serious about your profession. It helps you demonstrate your commitment to providing quality service and shows that you have taken the time to learn the fundamentals of catering. This gives clients the assurance that their event will be handled professionally and safely.

Having a caterer certificate may also make it easier for you to get insurance coverage for your business, as some companies require this type of certification before they will provide coverage. Additionally, having a caterer certificate may make it easier for you to secure contracts with larger venues or organizations since they often require proof of certification before signing any agreements.

In conclusion, while having a caterer certificate is not always necessary in order to start a catering business, it is highly recommended if you want to build credibility and trust with your clients. Having this type of certification will give them peace of mind knowing that their event will be handled safely and professionally by an experienced professional.

Related: Caterer Resume Examples

FAQs About Caterer Certifications

Q1. What is a caterer certification?

A1. A caterer certification is an official recognition of a caterer's qualifications and abilities to provide safe, sanitary, and quality food services. It is issued by a regulatory body or organization that assesses the caterer's skills, knowledge, and ability to safely handle food items.

Q2. How do I become certified as a caterer?

A2. The requirements for becoming certified as a caterer vary depending on the issuing body or organization, but generally include attending approved training courses, passing required tests and examinations, obtaining relevant experience, and submitting proof of identity and credentials.

Q3. What are the benefits of having a caterer certification?

A3. Having a caterer certification demonstrates to customers your commitment to providing safe, sanitary, and quality food services. It also enables you to market yourself more effectively as it gives potential clients confidence in your professional abilities as a caterer.

Q4. Is there an expiration date for my certification?

A4. Yes, most certifications have an expiration date which must be renewed in order to remain valid and active. Check with the issuing body or organization for details on when your certification needs to be renewed in order to stay valid and active.

Q5. Are there any additional requirements needed after getting certified?

A5: Yes, many organizations require ongoing training or continuing education credits in order to maintain your certification status over time; check with the issuing body or organization for details regarding their specific requirements for renewal of your certification status.