Online Food Handler Certification

Mar 18, 2020

Information on Online Food Handler Certification

Any individual who works with exposed food is required to obtain a food handler certification. This certification is awarded by the state after the completion of an organization's training program and provides students with an overall understanding of the major food safety issues that may occur in a food preparation facility, how to correctly handle food to avoid contamination, and the laws that govern proper food safety procedures.

Generally, food handler certification is only valid for two to three years, depending on the state where the certification was received, so food handlers will have to complete the course again to ensure their certification remains up to date. Successful completion of the food handler certification typically requires a passing grade of 70%, depending on the state the certification was issued in. Additionally, food handlers should expect to commit 75 to 90 minutes in order to complete the training modules and final exam.

Food Handler Certification Requirements

Food handlers can obtain their certification on their own time entirely online, and by the end of the course they will have learned the basics of the food industry. This certification will ensure that they remain compliant with their state's food handler requirements.

Information and Requirements

Individuals who hope to obtain a certification in safe food handling must check the requirements and policies as set out by the organization they work for and the state they reside in. Certain states may have a specific requirement for completion of this certification, while other states may allow food handlers to complete a generic food handlers course. Overall, food handler courses must typically be approved by the American National Standards Institute, ensuring students understand how to handle food safely, as outlined by the law.

In certain workplaces, staff are required to complete a food handler certification, so long as an employee is defined as a food handler. For example, any individual who works in a restaurant and is involved in the preparation of food, serving of food or deals with maintaining the surfaces and appliances that touch foods will be required to complete a certification in food handling. Certain food handlers who work outside of a restaurant environment will also be required to complete this certification, including nursing homes, long-term care homes, hospitals and schools.

Course Topics


Individuals who complete this certification learn how to properly maintain food handling environments through proper hygiene and environment maintenance. By the end of this lesson, students can gain a greater understanding on how they should use appropriate barriers to avoid touching food with bare hands and how to properly clean hands when handling food.


Through this lesson, students will learn how pathogens and bacteria can be passed from human contact to different foods. Students also learn how to identify food spoilage signs and the proper methods of food preservation to ensure foods remain fresh. Proper methods for food storage will be discussed.

Pest Control

The signs of pest infestation are discussed with students, helping them recognize the different forms of pests that can affect food safety in their workplace. Different ideas on how to prevent pest infestations are also discussed, including ensuring food is properly stored and waste is securely disposed of.

Food and temperature control

Students learn the appropriate times and temperatures required for keeping food safe and consumable during the different stages of production and serving. Students learn how to properly monitor food temperatures, record them and act if food temperatures become unsafe. By the end of this lesson, students can understand the importance of food temperature maintenance and should be able to recognize when food is no longer safe for consumption.

Career Options after Food Handler Certification

Individuals who have completed their food handler certification will be eligible to work in a restaurant, hotel, hospital, or major event that is selling or serving food. So long as individuals have completed their certification within thirty days after being hired, they can secure their position as a server, cook, or bartender.

As outlined by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), servers received a mean annual wage of $25,830 as of 2018, while food preparation workers received a mean annual wage of $24,830 in the same year. Future job prospects for servers and related workers are expected to grow by 14%, while job prospects for food preparation workers are expected to grow 8% from 2018-2028.

Chefs and head cooks could see a job growth of 11% during the same decade. Their mean salary was $52,160 as of 2018.

Food handler is a title given to a wide variety of roles related to food preparation and serving. Individuals who wish to secure employment in this field and provide a healthy and clean dining environment should complete this certification within their state, ensuring they have the skills required to excel as a responsible food handler.

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