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Top 10 Food Manager Certifications

This article provides an overview of the top food manager certifications available, helping readers find the best fit for their career goals.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 17 min read

Certifications for a food manager are critical in the job market because they demonstrate that the individual has achieved a certain level of knowledge and competence in food safety practices. Certification shows potential employers that the individual is knowledgeable about food safety regulations, has the ability to implement them properly, and can ensure compliance with government standards. This helps employers feel confident that their staff is adequately trained to handle food safely and prevent foodborne illness. Certifications also help to ensure that employees are up-to-date on new regulations, helping protect customers from unsafe foods. In some jurisdictions, certification may even be required in order to legally work as a food manager.

This article reviews some of the top certifications for Food Managers and explains how they can help to enhance and advance a food manager's career.

What are Food Manager Certifications?

Food Manager Certification is a certification program that is designed to equip food service professionals with the knowledge and skills necessary to ensure that their establishments are compliant with federal, state, and local food safety regulations. The certification is obtained by successfully completing an accredited course or exam.

The primary objectives of Food Manager Certification are to reduce the risk of foodborne illness in foodservice establishments, help ensure compliance with all applicable food safety regulations, and develop a standardized system of training for foodservice workers. Food Manager Certification can help protect against liability in the event of a lawsuit related to any food-related incident by providing proof that proper training has been completed and maintained. It can also help ensure that all employees have received the same level of training and education on safe food handling procedures. This can be especially beneficial for multi-location restaurants or franchise operations where employees may move between different locations. Additionally, having certified staff may make it easier for a business to obtain insurance coverage since they have demonstrated their commitment to following best practices in terms of food safety management.

Pro Tip: When obtaining your food manager certification, make sure to research the requirements and qualifications across different states. Depending on where you live, the certifications and licensures may vary.

Related: What does a Food Manager do?

Top 10 Food Manager Certifications

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

1. ServSafe Food Protection Manager Certification

ServSafe Food Protection Manager Certification is a certification program for food safety professionals. It is administered by the National Restaurant Association and is recognized by health departments throughout the United States. The goal of the program is to provide food safety managers with the knowledge and skills necessary to protect customers from foodborne illness.

The certification requires successful completion of an 8-hour course and a proctored exam. The course covers topics such as foodborne illnesses, safe food handling practices, personal hygiene, cleaning and sanitizing, pest control, and more.

To get certified, you must first register for a ServSafe Food Protection Manager Certification Course through the National Restaurant Association's website or through an approved training provider. Once registered, you will be given access to online materials that cover all of the topics necessary to pass the exam. After completing the online materials, you can take a proctored exam at an approved testing center or through an approved remote proctoring service.

The cost of getting certified varies depending on where you take your course and exam. Generally speaking, courses range from $75-$200 and exams cost around $50-$100.

2. National Registry of Food Safety Professionals (NRFSP) Certified Professional Food Manager (CPFM)

The National Registry of Food Safety Professionals (NRFSP) Certified Professional Food Manager (CPFM) is a certification program for food safety professionals. It is designed to recognize and validate the knowledge, skills, and abilities of food safety professionals in the foodservice industry. The CPFM certification is recognized by many state and local health departments as meeting their requirements for a certified food manager.

To become a CPFM, applicants must complete an approved course in food safety principles and pass an exam administered by NRFSP. The course typically takes between 8-10 hours to complete and covers topics such as personal hygiene, foodborne illness prevention, cleaning and sanitizing procedures, safe storage practices, temperature control methods, pest control programs, and HACCP principles.

The cost of the course varies depending on the provider but typically ranges from $150-$200. After completing the course, applicants must pass an exam administered by NRFSP with a score of 70% or better to receive their CPFM certification. The exam consists of 50 multiple choice questions and takes approximately 90 minutes to complete.

Once certified, individuals must renew their CPFM certification every five years by completing 16 hours of continuing education credits or retaking the exam.

3. National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) ServSafe Food Protection Manager Certification

The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) ServSafe Food Protection Manager Certification is a food safety certification program for restaurant and foodservice managers. It is designed to help ensure that foodservice professionals have the knowledge and skills necessary to protect the public from food-borne illness. The certification program consists of an online course, an exam, and an optional practical assessment.

The online course typically takes about 8 hours to complete, depending on the individual’s learning style and knowledge of food safety. The course covers topics such as personal hygiene, cross contamination prevention, temperature control, proper cleaning and sanitizing techniques, safe storage practices, pest management, and more.

To get certified, individuals must pass the ServSafe Food Protection Manager Exam with a score of 75% or higher. The exam is offered in both English and Spanish and can be taken at any authorized proctoring center or online through the NRAEF website. The cost for the exam is $75 for members of the NRAEF or $100 for non-members.

In addition to passing the exam, individuals may also opt to take a practical assessment which tests their ability to apply their knowledge in real-world scenarios. This assessment costs an additional $50 and can be taken at any authorized proctoring center or online through the NRAEF website.

Once individuals have passed both components of the certification program they will receive a ServSafe Food Protection Manager Certificate valid for five years from date of issue.

4. American Culinary Federation (ACF) Certified Executive Chef (CEC) and Certified Executive Pastry Chef (CEPC)

The American Culinary Federation (ACF) Certified Executive Chef (CEC) and Certified Executive Pastry Chef (CEPC) credentials are the highest level of professional certification available to chefs and pastry chefs in the United States. The CEC credential is awarded to those who demonstrate a mastery of culinary knowledge, skill, and technique, while the CEPC credential is awarded to those who demonstrate a mastery of pastry and baking knowledge, skill, and technique.

To become certified as an ACF CEC or CEPC, candidates must have at least five years of work experience in the culinary field. Candidates must also complete a series of exams that cover topics such as food safety and sanitation, nutrition, menu planning, purchasing and inventory control, cost control, management principles and practices.

The process for becoming an ACF CEC or CEPC takes approximately six months from start to finish. During this time period, candidates must submit an application form along with proof of their work experience in the culinary field. Once approved by the ACF Certification Commission, candidates can then register for the exam. The exam fee is $395 for either the CEC or CEPC credential. After passing the exam with a score of 75% or higher, candidates will receive their certification within four weeks.

5. International HACCP Alliance Certified HACCP Manager

The International HACCP Alliance Certified HACCP Manager (IHACCP) is a professional certification program designed to recognize individuals who have demonstrated knowledge and experience in the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) system. The IHACCP certification provides assurance to employers, customers, and regulatory agencies that certified individuals have the necessary skills and knowledge to develop, implement, and maintain a successful HACCP system.

To become an IHACCP Certified Manager, applicants must meet certain educational requirements in addition to completing an approved HACCP training course. The educational requirements include having a degree in food science or related field from an accredited university or college, or having at least three years of full-time work experience in the food industry.

Once applicants meet the educational requirements, they must complete an approved HACCP training course. This course typically takes around five days to complete and covers topics such as: principles of food safety; basic microbiology; food contamination sources; identification of hazards; development of critical control points; verification and validation; record keeping; corrective action plans; and more.

The cost for becoming an IHACCP Certified Manager varies depending on where you take the training course. Generally speaking, it can range anywhere from $1,000 - $2,500 USD depending on the location and provider.

6. Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Certified Professional Food Scientist (CPFS)

The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Certified Professional Food Scientist (CPFS) is a professional certification program designed to recognize the knowledge and experience of food scientists. It is an internationally recognized credential that demonstrates expertise in food science and technology.

To become certified, applicants must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in food science or related field, plus five years of professional experience in the field. Applicants must also pass an exam administered by IFT. The exam consists of four parts: food safety and quality assurance; sensory evaluation; product development; and nutrition/food chemistry.

It typically takes six months to one year to complete the CPFS certification process, depending on the applicant’s level of preparation. To get started, applicants must submit an application form and fee to IFT, along with supporting documents such as transcripts and work experience letters. Once approved, applicants will be given access to study materials and practice exams that can help prepare them for the actual exam.

The cost for taking the CPFS exam is $450 USD for members of IFT, or $600 USD for non-members. There may also be additional fees associated with submitting an application or obtaining study materials from IFT.

7. International Association for Food Protection (IAFP) Certified Professional in Food Safety (CPFS)

The International Association for Food Protection (IAFP) Certified Professional in Food Safety (CPFS) is a credential that demonstrates a professional’s knowledge and expertise in food safety. This certification is designed to help ensure that food safety professionals are well-versed in the most up-to-date practices and regulations.

To become an IAFP Certified Professional in Food Safety, applicants must have at least three years of full-time experience working in the food industry or related field, such as public health, education, or research. Applicants must also pass an exam administered by the IAFP. The exam consists of multiple choice questions covering topics such as food safety management systems, HACCP principles, regulatory requirements, and food microbiology.

The exam takes approximately two hours to complete and costs $225 for IAFP members ($325 for nonmembers). Once certified, CPFS professionals must renew their certification every three years by completing continuing education activities and paying a renewal fee of $50 for members ($100 for nonmembers).

8. The National Environmental Health Association’s Certified Professional in Food Safety

The National Environmental Health Association’s Certified Professional in Food Safety (CP-FS) is a professional certification program designed to recognize individuals who have demonstrated knowledge and experience in the field of food safety. This certification is designed to help ensure that those working in the food industry are knowledgeable about the latest science and regulations related to safe food handling and preparation.

To become certified, applicants must pass a comprehensive examination that covers topics such as food safety principles, risk assessment, HACCP, sanitation, personal hygiene, pest control, and regulatory requirements. The exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions and takes approximately three hours to complete.

In order to be eligible for the CP-FS certification program, applicants must possess at least two years of full-time experience in a food safety or related field. Applicants may also qualify if they have completed an accredited college degree program in a related field or have equivalent training or education from an approved organization.

The cost for the CP-FS exam is $350 USD for members of the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) and $450 USD for nonmembers. The fee includes access to study materials and practice exams as well as one attempt at taking the actual certification exam.

Once an applicant has successfully passed the CP-FS exam, they will receive their certificate within four weeks of passing. The certificate is valid for five years after which time recertification will be required to maintain it.

9. The American Society for Quality’s Quality Assurance Technician Certification

The American Society for Quality’s (ASQ) Quality Assurance Technician Certification is a professional certification that recognizes an individual’s knowledge and skills in quality assurance. The certification is designed to provide a comprehensive understanding of the principles and practices of quality assurance, including the tools and techniques used to ensure product or service quality.

The certification process includes passing an exam, which consists of multiple-choice questions that cover topics such as quality management systems, statistical process control, measurement systems analysis, and problem solving. The exam takes approximately three hours to complete.

To be eligible for the Quality Assurance Technician Certification, applicants must possess at least two years of work experience in a related field. Applicants must also have completed either an ASQ-approved course or training program in quality assurance or successfully passed a qualifying exam administered by ASQ.

The cost of the Quality Assurance Technician Certification is $249 USD for non-members and $199 USD for members of ASQ.

10. The National Sanitation Foundation’s Certified Professional in Sanitation Management

The National Sanitation Foundation’s Certified Professional in Sanitation Management (CP-SM) is a professional certification program designed to recognize individuals who have demonstrated expertise in the field of sanitation management. The CP-SM is an internationally recognized credential that validates a professional’s knowledge and experience in the areas of food safety, sanitation, and hygiene.

The CP-SM program consists of three components: an online course, a comprehensive exam, and a practical assessment. The online course covers topics such as food safety regulations, HACCP principles, cleaning and sanitizing methods, pest control strategies, and other related topics. The comprehensive exam tests the candidate’s knowledge of these topics. Finally, the practical assessment evaluates the candidate’s ability to apply their knowledge in real-world situations.

It typically takes between 6 months and 1 year to complete all three components of the CP-SM program. Candidates must register with NSF International prior to beginning their studies for the certification program. Registration fees vary depending on whether or not you are already an NSF member; non-members pay $400 while members pay $200 for registration fees. Additionally, there is a fee for taking the comprehensive exam ($125 for non-members; $100 for members). The cost of the practical assessment varies depending on location but typically ranges from $500-$1000 USD.

Do You Really Need a Food Manager Certificate?

Whether or not you need a food manager certificate depends on the type of work you are doing. If your job involves serving, preparing, or handling food in any way, then it is likely that you will need to obtain a food manager certificate. This is especially true if you work in a restaurant, catering business, or other food service business.

The purpose of the food manager certificate is to ensure that workers are knowledgeable about safe food practices and understand how to properly handle and store food. Having a certified food manager on staff can help reduce the risk of foodborne illness and other health risks associated with improper handling of food.

In most states, it is required by law for anyone working in the food industry to obtain some form of certification. In addition to this, many employers will require their employees to have a current and valid certification. This helps employers ensure that their staff is up-to-date on safe practices and regulations in the industry.

If you are considering working in the food industry, obtaining a Food Manager Certificate can be beneficial for both yourself and your employer. It will demonstrate that you have taken steps to become knowledgeable about safe practices and regulations related to the handling of food products and services. Additionally, having a Food Manager Certificate can make you more appealing as an employee since it shows that you are committed to safety within your workplace and take your job seriously.

Related: Food Manager Resume Examples

FAQs About Food Manager Certifications

1. What is a Food Manager Certification?

Answer: A Food Manager Certification is a credential that demonstrates a food manager has obtained the knowledge and skills necessary to manage a safe and sanitary food service operation.

2. Who needs to be certified as a Food Manager?

Answer: Any person in charge of food safety in a restaurant or other food service establishment must be certified as a Food Manager. This includes chefs, cooks, managers, supervisors, and anyone else responsible for overseeing the preparation, storage, and serving of food.

3. How long does it take to get certified?

Answer: The time it takes to obtain certification varies depending on the program you choose, but typically takes between 1-4 weeks from start to finish.

4. How much does it cost to become certified?

Answer: The cost of becoming certified depends on which program you select and where you are located, but typically ranges from $50-$200 USD.

5. What topics are covered in the certification exam?

Answer: Common topics covered in the certification exam include safe food handling practices, sanitation procedures, temperature control methods, HACCP principles, and other related topics.