The hospitality industry, which includes food and beverage establishments, accounts for approximately 8 percent of the entire U.S. workforce. Obtaining appropriate training and certification may help workers in the industry get a job or receive a promotion. Some employers and states even require certification for food handlers. ServSafe offers online certification in various aspects of the industry through the National Restaurant Association, endorsed by the American National Standards Institute for teaching food and beverage safety.

Food Handler

The ServSafe basic food handler training course takes between one hour and 90 minutes to complete. Students learn basic food safety, hygiene issues, how to avoid contamination to prevent allergic concerns, how long food needs to cook, proper temperatures for cooking and maintaining products, and how to clean and sanitize food areas. After reading the online material, students take a 40-question assessment to determine their understanding of the material. Students achieving a 75 percent on the test receive safe handler certification.

Management Certification

ServSafe management training builds on the information in the employee section: general safety, hygiene, cross-contamination, timing, temperatures and cleaning. The management portion also covers concepts such as proper food storage, preparation methods for safety, and safety regulations. This course takes about one full day. Unlike the employee certification exam, the manager test is normally proctored, but the test may still be taken online. Those looking for management certification may be able to take the course and exam from either the ServSafe site or a school. For example, Mississippi State University and West Virginia University offer online and classroom options for students.

Alcohol Servers

ServSafe alcohol training helps bartenders and servers to limit potential liability for themselves and their employers. Students learn how to examine ID, regulations regarding alcohol consumption and serving, how to determine when a patron is intoxicated, the physical effects of alcohol, and some methods for handling problematic consumers. Like the management exam, the alcohol certification online exam may require a proctor; check your state regulations to determine if you need one.

Retesting and Renewal

Testers who fail the ServSafe certification exam may retake it once, but then must wait a minimum of 60 days to attempt again. Online testers receive their results instantly upon finishing the exam and may then print the certificate for proof. Most ServSafe certifications must be renewed every five years by taking the exam again, although employers and local regulations may differ. Those looking to re-certify may want to examine the course materials before attempting the exam, since regulations may change in the interim.

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