How Can I Earn a Food Safety Certification?

Working in a retail food store or other business relating to food as a restaurant manager, you may need to earn food safety certification. Requirements for obtaining food safety certification vary by state and may range from taking an approved training program to a state exam. Schools offering Art of Cooking degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Food Safety Certification Overview

Food borne illnesses are a major problem in the U.S., with about 48 million cases occurring every year, some of which result in death, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ( Following precautions concerning food and food preparation, which can be mastered through a food safety certification program, can greatly reduce the risk of food borne illnesses in restaurants and retail food stores. Students can earn a certification in food safety through the completion of a program and/or by passing an exam.

Important Facts About Food Safety Certification

Common Courses Temperature Control, Food Storage, Sanitization, Food Safety Regulations
Certification Levels Food Handler, Alcohol Server, Food Manager
Online Availability Some courses are available online
Possible Careers Food Service Director, Culinary Instructor
Median Salary (2018)$54,240 (Food Service Managers)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)9% (Food Service Managers)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Finding a Food Safety Certification Program

You can find a variety of different certification programs through different avenues. For example, programs are offered through ServSafe, the National Registry of Food Safety Professionals, Learn2Serve and SuperSafeMark. However, a state may recommend certain training programs, while others have their own certification exam. If a program is not on the state's recommended list, it may still be approved as sufficient for training purposes, which is why it is very important to check state's requirement before enrolling in any program.

State Regulations

Every state has different rules and regulations concerning what is needed for training and certification to work in a restaurant, retail food store or in other food serving locations. Stipulations also vary by job role as a food handler versus manager. According to, the state of Hawaii doesn't require certification, though an understanding of food safety is required, and successfully completing a Certified Food Protection Manager exam is one way to provide evidence of that knowledge. The state of Ohio, on the other hand, requires the person in charge to demonstrate their food safety knowledge by passing a certification course.


Some states require that an individual recertify once after a certain period, while others expect it regularly (ex. every two years).

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