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Food Handler Course and Training Information

State health departments offer food handler's card courses and programs for individuals who work or plan to work in the food and beverage industry in a restaurant, kitchen or other food service establishment.

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Essential Information

A short, intensive workshop prepares individuals for the food handler's card examination. Upon employment, food and beverage professionals often receive additional on-the-job training. These courses might also be offered by the individual's place of employment, such as a bar or restaurant. Single courses typically last 2-4 hours, and no prerequisites are required.


Food Handler's Card or Certificate

Students learn basic sanitary precautions and procedures, proper food handling techniques and some basic first aid knowledge. Students may be provided with an informational packet covering all applicable topics, such as the following:

  • Proper meat and poultry preparation and serving
  • Proper serving techniques
  • Sanitary issues
  • Sanitation violations
  • First aid

Popular Career Options

Individuals obtaining a food handler's card are often seeking employment or currently employed in the food and beverage industry. Some jobs include:

  • Server
  • Bartender
  • Shift manager
  • Cook
  • Hostess

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of food- and beverage-serving workers was expected to grow by 10% from 2014-2024, which was about faster than average growth. In May 2015, the BLS reported the median salary was $19,250 for waiters, $19,180 for hosts and $19,530 for bartenders. The BLS also reported the median salary for restaurant cooks as of May 2015 was $23,100.

Continuing Education Information

Food and beverage professionals must periodically retake an examination to update their food handler's card. In addition to obtaining and renewing the card, individuals often obtain further on-the-job training in the specific operations of the restaurant or other venue that employs them. Students interested in formal education in the food and beverage industry might consider a food and beverage management program or culinary school.

In order to pass the food handler's card exam, short, intensive courses are offered that address the basics in food handling, food safety, sanitation and first aid. Cards must be renewed periodically by retaking the examination.

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