Online Servsafe Certification: Information and Requirements

Sep 25, 2019

ServSafe certification is generally offered as an online food and alcohol safety-training program. Continue reading for an overview of the programs, as well as career and salary information for graduates.

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Online ServSafe certification ensures individuals know about topics like food sanitation methods, proper storage practices, and how to prevent food-related illnesses. The online training and exams for ServSafe certification are available in English, Chinese and Spanish.

Essential Information

ServSafe is a food safety-training program developed by the National Restaurant Association that is nationally recognized and accredited. Receiving certification requires passing an exam and may include a certain number of training hours, depending on local laws.

Exam Requirements Pass ServSafe food safety exam or ServSafe advanced or primary alcohol exam
Other Requirements States vary on number of training hours, re-certification after five years
Projected Job Growth 11% (2018-2028) for all food service managers*
Median Annual Salary $65,511 (2019) for all food safety managers**

Sources: *Bureau of Labor Statistics, **

ServSafe Certification Information

ServSafe certification programs were developed by the National Restaurant Association (NRA), which promotes the restaurant industry and advocates food safety ( These programs are accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI)-Conference for Food Protection (CFP). An additional program, the ServSafe Alcohol Program, was created by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) to endorse responsible alcohol service training and certification (

ServSafe certification exams use the latest information published in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Food Code, which serves as a model for regulating retail and food service industries ( ServSafe training and exams are available online and are available in English, Spanish and Chinese.

ServSafe Food Protection Manager Certification

Certification as a ServSafe food protection manager demonstrates that individuals know how food-borne illnesses develop and are able to apply proper sanitation methods to avoid outbreaks. They also know what temperatures are necessary for proper storage, preparation and serving of specific foods to prevent food-borne illness. Certification also acknowledges that individuals are capable of keeping a sanitary facility that implements effective pest management practices.

Applicants can study for the ServSafe food safety exam online at Coursework includes information about pathogens, food-borne illness, food allergens, hygiene, food inspections, food storage, food preparation, serving food, pest management, facilities and food safety regulations. It also includes a preparatory test.

Other food safety training courses may be acceptable in preparing for the exam. Check with the state restaurant association or local regulation authority for recommended training programs.


Some local laws require a certain number of training hours in addition to passing the ServSafe exam. Individuals may check with their local regulatory authority to find out more information. A passing score of at least 75 percent is needed on the ServSafe examination to obtain the ServSafe Food Protection Manager certification. Online exams must be given through an official ServSafe instructor. Proctors are found on the ServSafe website.

ServSafe certification is valid for five years, with recertification requirements varying by region. Employers may also implement their own recertification conditions.

ServSafe Alcohol Certification

Certification in ServSafe Alcohol trains individuals in responsible alcohol-serving practices. It provides them techniques to deal with intoxicated customers and to protect the business, employees and customers. Exam topics include the laws governing alcohol use, identifying and averting intoxication, procedures for checking identification and handling intoxicated guests.

Two types of online ServSafe Alcohol exams are available: advanced and primary. The advanced exam is more thorough and passing it indicates the individual has mastered responsible alcohol service procedures. The primary exam covers the basic concepts of responsible alcohol service and represents that the individual is knowledgeable on how to serve alcohol responsibly.


The ServSafe Alcohol advanced exam must be taken in the presence of a proctor. Check with local regulatory agencies to find out if there is a specified amount of required training hours.

Salary and Job Outlook Information

According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projections, employment of food service managers will increase by 11% from 2018 to 2028. This average growth, according to the BLS, corresponds to the rise of various dining establishments in the U.S. In September 2019, reported that food safety managers made a median annual salary of $65,511.

ServSafe certification is only valid for five years. Individuals wishing to recertify after this time should check their state or local requirements. An additional certification is available to serve alcoholic beverages, which may be needed to work as a bartender.

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