12 Chef Certification Options To Advance Your Career

Updated 13 February 2023

A chef is a culinary expert who is proficient in all aspects of food preparation. Certain certifications can help a chef learn new skills and advance their career. Learning about the various certifications, what they entail and the advantages of each enables you to consider the different career paths they offer. In this article, we list 12 chef certifications, explain the eligibility criteria for each and describe the steps you can take to obtain one of these certifications.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are associated with Indeed.

What Is A Chef Certification?

A chef certification enables you to advance your career in a specific culinary field. It validates your knowledge and skills and adds credibility to your resume, which may qualify you for a higher position in a restaurant, hotel or food service establishment.

Earning a specialised certification develops your knowledge skill set. It provides opportunities to network with others in the culinary industry, which can help you keep up to date with new techniques, popular flavours and culinary trends. You can leverage your certification to gain leadership roles, such as overseeing a kitchen or managing the culinary departments in hospitality, and healthcare.

Related: How Much Does A Chef Make? (Factors That Affect Salary)

How To Earn A Chef Certification?

Numerous government and private organisations and institutes offer certifications. While the eligibility for each may be different, they typically require you to complete your high school education, and some may necessitate a bachelor's degree in culinary arts. Here are the steps that you can follow to obtain certification:

  1. Select a certification. Consider your options and learn about the eligibility criteria, course work and additional requirements that each involves. You can also ask other individuals in the field for advice.

  2. Define your goals. Establish your long- and short-term goals to help you choose an appropriate certification. Determine how each certification could add value to your current position.

  3. Gain necessary work experience. Some certifications require specific work experience in a kitchen. You can gain experience by working under renowned chefs or interning in hotels, and restaurants.

  4. Collate your documents. Each certification requires you to submit documents demonstrating your education and experience. Collate and maintain copies of these documents during the application process.

  5. Prepare for the examination. Certifications require you to complete a written and practical exam. Revise your basic techniques and use the necessary coursework to prepare.

12 Chef Certifications

Several international organisations offer certifications that help chefs advance their careers. Some provide certifications that are government affiliated and globally recognised. The following is a list of certifications to consider:

1. Indian Federation of Culinary Associations (IFCA) Professional Certification

The IFCA provides professional certification to student chefs, sous chefs, training chefs, pastry chefs, executive chefs and master chefs to validate their expertise. Applicants determine the level of certification and provide documentation of their education, and experience to support it. After a thorough review and examination, IFCA issues the certification. The various certifications that the IFCA offer include:

  • Certified Master Chef

  • Certified Master Pastry Chef

  • Certified Culinary Educator

  • Certified Executive Chef (CEC)

  • Certified Chef de Cuisine

  • Certified Pastry Chef

  • Certified Sous Chef (CSC)

  • Certified Chef de Partie

  • Certified Professional Cook

  • Certified Student Chef

Related: Types Of Restaurant Jobs (With Salaries And Duties)

2. Craftsmanship Certificate Course in Food Production and Patisserie

The National Council for Hotel Management offers this certification programme that focuses on preparing students with the necessary skills for an entry-level cook, commis or kitchen assistant role. The course provides theoretical and practical experience in different types of service, menus, ingredients, preparations and garnishing and takes 18 months to complete. A student who graduates from 10th standard and is under 25 years of age may apply for the certificate programme.

Related: How To Become A Food Technologist

3. Certificate in Bakery and Patisserie

This 6-month certificate that several schools offer is suitable for freshers and experienced individuals Its extensive theoretical and practical classes teach students various techniques and industry practices. Students over the age of 16 years who complete their 10th standard from any certification board in India are eligible for the course.

Related: 46 Popular Bakery Interview Questions (And Sample Answers)

4. Certificate in Food Production

Several colleges offer a certificate or diploma in food production. It is a short course spanning three semesters and provides industrial training in food production management. Some subjects include cookery, bakery, pastries, larder, hygiene and equipment maintenance. Students can apply for this certification after completing their high-school education in any stream with the English language as one of their subjects.

Related: Sous Chef Skills: Examples And Ways To Improve Them

5. Certified Food Service Professional

The North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers issues this professional certificate to qualified individuals. It adds credibility to an individual's knowledge of food production, preparation and hygiene. It requires applicants to demonstrate 35 hours of food service expertise, submit documents and complete an online exam.

Related: 13 Alternative Career Options For Chefs Looking For Change

6. Certified Personal Chef

The United States Personal Chef Association issues this certificate to qualified individuals. Chefs with a minimum of two years of experience as a personal chef with expertise in preparation, management and presentation qualify for this certification. A chef who joins the association is eligible for the certification.

7. Executive Chef Certification (CEC)

The American Culinary Federation (ACF) issues the CEC certification. Culinarians achieve this certification based on their education, experience and completion of ACF examinations. It demonstrates a benchmark of knowledge and skills in food preparation, safety, sanitation, nutrition and management. Applicants with five years of experience as a chef de cuisine, executive sous chef or chef in charge qualify for the certification. As a part of the process, they complete ACF courses covering subjects including subjects nutrition, food safety and sanitation, supervisory management, beverage management and cost control management.

Related: How To Write A Chef Resume Objective (With Examples)

8. CSC certification

The ACF issues the CSC certification to individuals with advanced culinary expertise and experience in supervising teams. This credential benefits chefs who work in restaurants and oversee multiple shifts of employees. Candidates with two years of experience in supervising a shift or food station are eligible for this certification. Before appearing for the written and practical evaluations, candidates complete ACF courses in nutrition, food safety and sanitation, and supervisory management.

9. Certified Decorator

The Retail Bakers of America (RBA) offers this credential to chefs in commercial bakeries. Candidates require a minimum of four years of experience in a bakery. The RBA conducts an online and a practical exam as a part of its certification process. Reviewing basic skills, such as types of icing and design techniques, helps chefs to earn the certification.

10. Certificate in Indian and Tandoor

The National Finishing and Cookery Institute offers a certificate course in Indian and Tandoori cuisine. The three-month specialisation allows students to master the art of using Indian spices and ancient tandoori cooking methods. The course focuses on knife skills, tandoori preparation, marination techniques and the use of flavours. Aspiring candidates who complete their 10th standard can apply for this certification programme.

11. Master Certified Food Executive

The International Food Service Executives Association issues a Master Certified Food Executive credential to chefs. It is an advanced-level credential that showcases expertise in preparing and serving food. Executives study subjects like customer service, storage, food safety and food service management while preparing for online examinations. The certification adds credibility necessary for the role of a manager or director of food in hospitality.

12. Certified Nutrition Specialist

Front-line individuals often obtain nutrition specialist certification. This certification that the Board for Certification of Nutrition Specialists offers requires candidates to have at least two years of work experience along with training after completing high school. Head chefs, sous chefs, assistant chefs and line chefs often opt for this certification. It requires candidates to apply for a renewal every five years.

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