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Top 10 Food Services Manager Certifications

This article provides an overview of the best certifications available for food service managers, including information on requirements and benefits.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 18 min read

Certifications for a food services manager are important in the job market as they demonstrate to employers that the individual has the necessary knowledge and experience to manage a food service operation. Certifications indicate that an individual is qualified to oversee all aspects of a restaurant, including menu planning, safety protocols, cost control, customer service, and staff management. They also show potential employers that the individual is committed to staying up-to-date on industry trends and best practices. Furthermore, certifications may be required by certain states or municipalities in order for an individual to be eligible for employment in certain types of food service operations.

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

What are Food Services Manager Certifications?

Food services manager certification is a type of professional credential that demonstrates an individual has the skills and knowledge to manage food service operations. This certification is often sought by individuals who are looking to enter the food services industry or those who are already employed in the field but want to take their career to the next level.

Having this certification can help individuals stand out from other job applicants and give them an edge when it comes to promotions or higher-level positions within the food services industry. The certification also serves as evidence of a person's commitment and dedication to their profession, making them more attractive for potential employers.

This certification is typically offered by educational institutions and professional organizations, such as hospitality management programs at universities or industry-specific associations like the National Restaurant Association (NRA). To earn this certification, individuals must complete coursework related to topics such as nutrition, customer service, menu planning, sanitation, and food safety. Many certifications also require passing an exam in order to demonstrate proficiency in these areas.

Once certified, individuals can benefit from access to resources such as networking events and job postings from employers in the food services industry. Additionally, having this certification may open up opportunities for further education and training that could help propel their careers even further.

Pro Tip: Before pursuing a food services manager certification, make sure to research the specific requirements for your state. Different states may have different regulations that you need to be aware of in order to successfully complete the certification process.

Related: What does a Food Services Manager do?

Top 10 Food Services Manager Certifications

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

1. Certified Foodservice Manager (CFM)

Certified Foodservice Manager (CFM) is a professional certification program for foodservice managers. The CFM certification is designed to recognize individuals who have demonstrated the knowledge, skills and abilities necessary to manage a foodservice operation in accordance with industry standards. It is administered by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF).

The CFM program consists of two parts: an assessment and a training course. To become certified, individuals must pass an assessment that tests their knowledge of food safety, sanitation, financial management and operational procedures. The assessment takes approximately four hours to complete and must be taken at a proctored testing center.

In order to qualify for the CFM exam, applicants must meet certain requirements including having two years of full-time work experience as a manager or supervisor in a restaurant or foodservice operation.

The cost of the CFM program varies depending on whether you choose to take the online or in-person course. The online course costs $225 while the in-person course costs $325. Both courses include access to online study materials and practice tests as well as the final exam fee ($125 for the online course and $175 for the in-person course).

2. Certified Professional Food Manager (CPFM)

Certified Professional Food Managers (CPFM) are individuals who have met the requirements for a professional certification program that demonstrates their knowledge and skills in food safety, sanitation, and operations. The CPFM certification is recognized by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) and is designed to provide foodservice professionals with the necessary training and education to ensure safe food handling practices in restaurants, bars, hotels, schools, hospitals, and other food establishments.

The CPFM certification requires successful completion of a comprehensive exam that tests an individual’s knowledge of food safety principles. To qualify for the exam, applicants must have completed a minimum of four hours of approved instruction from an accredited provider. The exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions and takes approximately two hours to complete.

The cost for the CPFM certification varies depending on the provider. Generally speaking, it costs between $200-$400 to take the exam. After passing the exam, there is an annual fee of $50 for continuing education credits and renewal of the certificate every three years.

In order to maintain their CPFM status, individuals must complete at least 16 hours of continuing education credits every three years. This can be done through online courses or attending seminars offered by accredited providers.

3. ServSafe Food Protection Manager Certification

ServSafe Food Protection Manager Certification is a nationally recognized certification program administered by the National Restaurant Association. It is designed to ensure that foodservice managers have the knowledge and skills necessary to protect their customers from foodborne illnesses. The certification exam tests knowledge of safe food handling practices, food safety regulations, and other topics related to food safety.

The ServSafe Food Protection Manager Certification requires successful completion of an approved 8-hour training course and passing a proctored exam with a score of 75% or higher. The training course can be completed in one day or over multiple days, depending on the provider.

To get certified, individuals must register for an approved training course through an accredited provider. The cost of the training course varies depending on the provider; however, it typically ranges between $100-$200 USD. After completing the training course, individuals must take and pass a proctored exam with a score of 75% or higher in order to receive their ServSafe Food Protection Manager Certification certificate.

In addition to registering for an approved training course, individuals may also purchase study materials such as books and practice exams from the National Restaurant Association website (www.servsafe.com). These materials are not required for certification but may help individuals prepare for the exam.

4. National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) Foodservice Management Professional (FMP) Certification

The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) Foodservice Management Professional (FMP) Certification is a professional certification program designed to recognize and promote excellence in foodservice management. The FMP Certification is designed for individuals who have the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to manage a successful foodservice operation.

The FMP Certification program consists of three levels: Certified Foodservice Manager (CFM), Certified Foodservice Executive (CFE), and Certified Master Foodservice Manager (CMFM). The CFM level is the entry-level certification and is intended for those with two or more years of experience in foodservice management. The CFE level is intended for those with five or more years of experience in foodservice management, while the CMFM level is intended for those with ten or more years of experience in foodservice management.

To obtain an FMP Certification, individuals must complete an approved course of study and pass an examination administered by NRAEF. The courses are offered through accredited universities, colleges, and other educational institutions, as well as online learning platforms. Depending on the level of certification sought, it can take anywhere from six months to two years to complete the required coursework and obtain an FMP Certification.

The cost of obtaining an FMP Certification varies depending on the institution offering the courses. Generally speaking, it can range from $500-$2,000 USD depending on the level of certification sought.

5. American Culinary Federation (ACF) Certified Executive Chef (CEC) Certification

The American Culinary Federation (ACF) Certified Executive Chef (CEC) Certification is a professional certification program designed to recognize chefs who have achieved the highest level of culinary knowledge and experience. It is the highest certification offered by the ACF, and it requires at least 10 years of professional cooking experience in addition to passing a rigorous exam. The exam covers topics such as food safety, nutrition, menu planning, purchasing, inventory control, personnel management, sanitation and more.

To become an ACF CEC, candidates must first meet certain eligibility requirements. These include having at least 10 years of full-time employment in the foodservice industry; holding a minimum of two certifications from other accredited organizations; having completed a minimum of 500 hours of continuing education credits; and having completed an approved apprenticeship program or culinary degree program.

Once these eligibility requirements are met, candidates can apply for the CEC exam. The exam consists of 200 multiple-choice questions that must be completed within four hours. Candidates must score 75% or higher to pass the exam.

The cost for taking the CEC exam is $450 for ACF members or $650 for non-members. Once certified, chefs must complete at least 30 continuing education credits every three years and pay an annual renewal fee to maintain their certification status.

6. Professional Food Manager Certification Institute (PFMCI) Certified Professional Food Manager (CPFM)

The Professional Food Manager Certification Institute (PFMCI) Certified Professional Food Manager (CPFM) is a certification program designed to recognize individuals who have demonstrated the knowledge and skills necessary to manage food safety in a professional setting. The CPFM certification is recognized by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) and is accepted in many states as proof of food safety competency.

To become certified, applicants must pass an exam administered by the PFMCI. The exam consists of 80 multiple-choice questions that cover topics such as food safety principles, regulations, sanitation, and pest control. Applicants must also complete a training course prior to taking the exam.

The training course typically takes approximately 16 hours to complete and can be taken online or in person at various locations across the country. The cost of the course varies depending on where it is taken but typically ranges from $100-$200. The cost of the exam itself is $150 for members of the NRAEF or $175 for non-members.

Once an applicant passes their exam, they will receive their CPFM certificate within four weeks. This certificate is valid for five years and can be renewed by taking a refresher course or retaking the examination.

7. National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) Certified Professional Food Safety Manager (CPFSM)

The National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) Certified Professional Food Safety Manager (CPFSM) is a certification program designed to recognize and promote excellence in food safety management. The CPFSM credential is awarded to individuals who demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of food safety principles, practices, and regulations.

It typically takes 3-4 months to prepare for the CPFSM exam. To get the certification, applicants must first complete an approved food safety training course and pass an examination administered by NEHA.

The cost of the CPFSM certification varies depending on the provider of the training course. Generally, courses range from $500-$1000 USD. In addition to the cost of the course, there is also an examination fee of $150 USD payable directly to NEHA at the time of registration for the exam.

8. National Registry of Food Safety Professionals (NRFSP) Certified Professional in Food Safety Management

The National Registry of Food Safety Professionals (NRFSP) Certified Professional in Food Safety Management is a certification program that recognizes individuals who have achieved a high level of knowledge and understanding of food safety principles, practices, and techniques. The certification is designed to demonstrate an individual’s commitment to food safety and their ability to effectively manage food safety programs.

It typically takes approximately three months to complete the NRFSP Certified Professional in Food Safety Management coursework, depending on the individual's prior knowledge and experience. To get certified, individuals must pass an examination administered by the NRFSP. The exam consists of 100 multiple choice questions covering topics such as food safety regulations, hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP), sanitation, pest control, environmental monitoring, personal hygiene, product testing and recall procedures.

The cost for taking the NRFSP Certified Professional in Food Safety Management exam varies depending on the country or region where it is taken. In the United States it typically costs around $250 USD.

9. International HACCP Alliance Certified HACCP Auditor

The International HACCP Alliance Certified HACCP Auditor (IHA-CHA) is a certification program designed to recognize individuals who have demonstrated knowledge and experience in the application of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles. The IHA-CHA program is administered by the International HACCP Alliance, an organization dedicated to promoting the development and implementation of safe food production systems worldwide.

To become certified as an IHA-CHA, an individual must complete a series of courses and exams that demonstrate their proficiency in applying HACCP principles. The courses cover topics such as food safety management systems, hazard analysis techniques, prerequisite programs, critical control points, monitoring and verification procedures, corrective actions, record keeping requirements, and other related subjects. Upon successful completion of the coursework and exams, applicants are eligible to take the IHA-CHA exam.

The IHA-CHA exam consists of two parts: a written exam testing knowledge of HACCP principles and a practical exam testing ability to apply those principles in real world scenarios. The written portion consists of multiple choice questions while the practical portion involves role playing exercises with instructors acting as customers or suppliers. Both parts must be passed in order to receive certification.

The entire process typically takes around six months from start to finish. It requires dedication and commitment from the applicant but can be completed at their own pace as long as all deadlines are met.

The cost for taking the IHA-CHA exam varies depending on location but generally ranges from $500-$1000 USD per person. This fee covers registration for both parts of the exam as well as any materials needed for studying or completing assignments throughout the process.

10. International Facility Management Association's Certified Facility Manager

The International Facility Management Association’s Certified Facility Manager (CFM) is the most widely recognized certification program for facility managers. It is a professional credential that recognizes expertise and knowledge in the field of facility management. The CFM designation is a mark of excellence and professionalism, demonstrating to employers, colleagues, and clients that an individual has met the highest standards of practice in the profession.

The CFM program consists of two parts: a written exam and a practical experience requirement. The written exam covers topics such as finance, operations, maintenance, human resources, safety, emergency preparedness, sustainability, and more. To be eligible to take the exam, applicants must have at least five years of full-time experience in facility management or related fields.

The practical experience requirement involves completing a portfolio detailing relevant work experience over the past three years. This portfolio must include proof of successful completion of projects or tasks related to facility management as well as evidence of professional development activities such as seminars or workshops attended.

The CFM program takes approximately six months to complete from start to finish. The cost for taking the exam is $595 for members of IFMA and $795 for non-members. Additionally, there is an annual fee for maintaining certification which is currently $95 per year for members and $145 per year for non-members.

Do You Really Need a Food Services Manager Certificate?

Whether or not you need a food services manager certificate depends on the job you are applying for. It is important to check with the employer to see what their requirements are and if they require certification.

In some cases, employers may prefer certification as it shows that the applicant has taken an interest in the field and has gone through a formal process to become certified. It also provides employers with evidence that the applicant is knowledgeable and qualified for the position. This can help them make sure they hire someone who will be able to manage food service operations efficiently and effectively.

Additionally, having a food services manager certificate can give applicants an edge over other candidates who do not have one. This certification shows potential employers that the applicant is committed to developing their skills and knowledge in this area, which can help them stand out from other candidates.

Overall, whether or not you need a food services manager certificate ultimately depends on the job you are applying for and what specific requirements the employer has set forth. It’s important to research each job opportunity thoroughly before deciding if pursuing certification is worth it for your individual situation.

Related: Food Services Manager Resume Examples

FAQs About Food Services Manager Certifications

1. What Is a Food Services Manager Certification?

Answer: A Food Services Manager Certification is a credential that demonstrates knowledge and skill in food safety and sanitation, management, customer service, and other relevant topics. It is designed to help restaurant and other food service managers ensure the safety of their guests and staff.

2. How Do I Become Certified as a Food Services Manager?

Answer: To become certified as a Food Services Manager, you must complete an approved training program and pass an exam. Training programs vary by state or province, but typically include courses in food safety, nutrition, menu planning, inventory control, customer service, financial management, and more.

3. How Long Does the Certification Last?

Answer: Most certifications last for three years before recertification is required. However, some jurisdictions may require annual or biennial recertification depending on local regulations.

4. What Are the Benefits of Becoming a Certified Food Services Manager?

Answer: The benefits of becoming a certified food services manager include increased job opportunities; improved customer confidence; better pay; greater respect from other employees; improved ability to identify potential problems; and access to exclusive resources such as seminars and conferences specifically designed for certified managers.

5. Do I Have to Take Continuing Education Courses to Maintain My Certification?

Answer: Yes – depending on your jurisdiction’s requirements – you may need to take continuing education courses in order to maintain your certification status. These courses can help keep you up-to-date on current industry trends and regulations so that you can provide the best possible service for your customers.