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Certified Food Handler Training Program Information

In food handler training programs, food service workers or those who want to work in the industry receive food safety instruction and training in how to properly handle, store and present food.

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Essential Information

Food handler training programs instruct food service workers in the safety regulations and sanitation requirements for presenting food that is safe to eat. Upon completion, students can obtain certification required of food handlers in some states. Certification typically entails passing an exam. Food handlers can also obtain voluntary certification from professional organizations.

Food service managers may be required by the state to earn additional licenses.

Food handler training programs are brief, some lasting just a day, and are often available online. Many are available in English and Spanish.


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  • Baking and Pastry Arts
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Food Handler Certification Programs

These programs prepare managers, cooks, and servers to become certified as food handlers by showing them how to use food thermometers to determine if food is properly cooked. They also study food safety principles like:

  • Sanitization
  • Personal hygiene
  • Foodborne illness
  • Internal temperature
  • Cross contamination

Employment Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), workers in the beverage and food serving industry were projected to see a 10% growth in employment opportunities from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). These professionals earned a median annual wage of $19,580 as of May 2015.

Certification and Continuing Education Information

Certification requirements for food handlers vary by state; some states require that food handlers obtain certification in order to work in the industry, while others have no requirements. In general, candidates are required to pass an examination to gain certification, which commonly lasts for a 3-year term. Certification requirements may be found by contacting a given state's board of health. Organizations that offer voluntary certification in the field - like the National Registry of Food Safety Professionals - offer easily accessible information on requirements for a variety of states.

For food handlers working in environments that serve alcohol - like clubs, restaurants, catering companies and hotels - advancement can include working as a bartender. As with food handlers, certification requirements for alcoholic beverage servers and bartenders are regulated by individual states. Continuing education training programs offered at colleges and universities teach students about alcohol measuring, mixology and how to deal with intoxicated individuals.

Food protection and food safety programs are found at the bachelor's, graduate certificate, master's and doctoral levels. Individuals prepare for positions as supervisors at regulatory agencies, in the public health field and in the food industry by enrolling in graduate programs of study.

In order to work in the food service industry, prospective workers must pass a state certification exam after taking a food handler training program. These brief courses teach workers about food safety and sanitation regulations in restaurants and other food service establishments. Additional certifications for bartenders or those who serve alcohol can be pursued separately.

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