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  Certification Overview

IFSEA Certification Program


In many professions, a successful career is marked by an appropriate degree of professional development, verified by a credible certification program and recognized by both the public and one’s peers.    

If you’ve made the commitment to make food service your career, you may want to consider obtaining a certification from the International Food Service Executives Association (IFSEA).  With thousands of food service managers competing in the job market, it is essential to prove your management competency.  Certification through IFSEA demonstrates knowledge, leadership and professionalism to the food service industry. 

Certification is not only a benchmark for personal and professional achievement, but it has also become recognized as a standard of excellence in the food service industry. 

 Certification Program   

As with its professional development programs, IFSEAs certification program is a dynamic, continuing process.  The IFSEA certification program includes three levels of recognition:  Certified Food Associate (CFA), Certified Food Manager (CFM) and Certified Food Executive (CFE).  Achieving certification is a mark of distinction and achievement.  Those who have earned the CFA, CFM and CFE designation are recognized as achieving the highest levels of job knowledge and leadership in the food service industry. 

 Why Get Certified?  

The simple answer is that in order to remain as competitive as possible today, you must be certified.  The bar has been raised in the food service industry and employers are now taking additional steps to ensure that they are hiring or working with the most skilled and knowledgeable individuals in the business.  Professional certifications from IFSEA offer them another screening tool – one that has the backing and credibility of this preeminent professional association.  Every profession requires specialized skills.  Not every employer knows that you have those skills.   

If you want…  

  • To provide validation of your knowledge and competence, improving your marketability, 

  • To gain instant professional credibility,    

  • To advance your career,

  • To stand head and shoulders above the competition,

  • To increase your earnings potential, and

  • To enhance the industry’s image, then certification is the investment in your career, your livelihood, and your future.


Why IFSEA Certification   

IFSEA certification makes sure that employers understand the level you have reached in the specified area of certification.  IFSEA certification means that employers have a measure, verified by a respected outside body, with which to measure your abilities.  This is beneficial not only to your employer, but also to you, as your level of expertise is immediately understood and recognized.   

IFSEA certification can give you a progression path in your career.  If you continuously study, acquire different management skill sets and gain higher certification, you are more likely to be given a promotion, or to be able to find a new job at a higher level.  Your IFSEA certification becomes a recognized part of your professional resume, making sure that everyone who affects your career progress understands your skills and knowledge.

Your fellow workers will also be able to understand your abilities.  This peer recognition is really important, especially if you need to work as a member of a team, and you will be rewarded with their professional respect.  IFSEA certification makes a major impact on your career, so whatever area you work in the food service industry; take a look at the IFSEA certification opportunities available.  

Starting the Certification Process


The Steps to Certification 

1.  Fill out the Certification Petition - Click Here

  • Certified Food Associate (CFA) Recommended for High School or Vocational School Senior with two consecutive years in a Food Service/Culinary Arts Program or College Students and for Military E-1 through E-4 with less the two years experience.

  • Certified Food Manager (CFM):  Recommended for professionals with 2 years or more experience, College Students and for Military E-4 through E-6.

  • Certified Food Executive (CFE):  Recommended for professionals with at least 7 years experience and for Military E7 – CWO5.

2.  Complete the designated IFSEA Certification Petition for CFA, CFM or CFE supported by a copy of the required documentation for each subcategory.

     NOTE:  Do not send original documents. 

 Make copies of job evaluations, letter(s) from supervisor(s),      degrees, certificates, transcripts, attendance at conference/workshops/seminars, letters from IFSEA Officers and Other appropriate documents that support your certification petition.

Also, it is highly recommended that you make a copy of the entire certification package for your records just in case something goes wrong such as being lost in the mail.


 3.  Submit Certification Petition, supporting documents with payment to:

IFSEA Headquarters

4955 Miller Street Suite 107 

Wheat Ridge, CO  80033

 4.  Once IFSEA receives your designated Certification Petition, supporting documents  and payment, you will be notified of approval/disapproval.  Then you must decide when you want to take the exam.

 5.  If you decide to take the written version of the exam you must choose a Proctor to  uphold the integrity of the certification exam by overseeing your exam day.  Your Proctor must submit a Proctor Application.  Your Proctor must be one of the  following:  

  1. Hold a CFE designation

  2. Professor

  3. Supervisor or Manager at your place of employment   

6.  Once your Certification Petition is approved, IFSEA will mail you a Study Guide.

7.  Email IFSEA at the date, time and location of the exam.   

8.  Following notification from number 8, IFSEA will mail the exam  to your Proctor.  Instructions for your Proctor will be included. 

9. Take the exam.   

10.  If taking the exam on-line:  You will receive your score once you finished and  submitted the exam.  

11.  If taking the Written Exam:  Your Proctor will be asked to mail the exam to IFSEA for grading. 

12.  IFSEA will mail you the score with appropriate Certificate and Lapel Pin.


 TYPE OF CERTIFICTION   MEMBER   NON-MEMBER   Full Classrooms/Active Military 
 Certified Food Associate (CFA)   $    129.00  $           150.00  $         129.00
 CFA Recertification   $      50.00 $            75.00  $           50.00
 Certified Food Manager (CFM)   $    159.00  $           295.00  $         159.00
 CFM Recertification   $      75.00  $           100.00  $           75.00
 Certified Food Executive (CFE)   $    325.00  $           525.00  $         325.00
 CFE Recertification   $    100.00  $           125.00  $         100.00

For further information or for an application please contact

  4955 Miller Street, Suite 107   |  Wheat Ridge, CO  80033   |   Toll Free: 800.893.5499
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