How much does ServSafe certification cost?

Busy food managers

There are five training courses offered by ServSafe and four of them offer certifications. Having a “certification” means that you have a certificate and you get that certificate by passing the test. The training courses offered by ServSafe are:

ServSafe Food Manager

ServSafe Food Handler

ServSafe Alcohol

ServSafe Allergens

ServSafe Workplace

The ServSafe Workplace training course does not have a test and so, therefore, it does not have a certification. The other four do have a test and certification. Sometimes the test is also called an exam or an assessment, depending on which certification your getting.

So how much do a ServSafe training course and ServSafe test cost?

Depending on which certification you need, you may not need to take a training course. And you may not need your exam to be from ServSafe either. If you need the certification for a state or city law or regulation, you probably do not need to be ServSafe certified. You probably can choose a cheaper and better option for your training and testing.

How much for ServSafe Manager certification?

You will probably need to purchase three things for your ServSafe Manager certification. They are a food safety training class or online course, a ServSafe exam, and proctor services. You can buy these in a bundle or purchase them separately. Usually, you will not save much money by purchasing them in a bundle but it could be more convenient.

ServSafe sells lots of training and exam materials, but you really only need to pass the exam to become ServSafe certified. The training courses, study guides, and textbooks are optional.

But the ServSafe Manager is exam is not easy and unless you have extensive experience in a commercial kitchen or have taken an advanced culinary course, you will probably fail. You can try our ServSafe Practice Test to see if you can pass and our ServSafe Study Guide to help you prepare.

It is highly recommended that you take a food safety class or an online course before attempting the exam.

ServSafe Manager Online Exam: $36

ServSafe Manager Written Exam: $38

There is an online and written version of the exam. Both versions require a proctor to administer the exam. You will also need to have a proctor present when you take the exam. Proctors set their own fees and they vary greatly. If you live in California, Florida, Texas or Georgia you can find a proctor here on our website. If you don’t live in one of those states, you can find a proctor on the ServSafe website.

ServSafe Exam Proctor Fee: $50 – $100

The proctor fee may or may not include the cost of the exam. Be sure to check. If you bought an online course or a textbook, the exam is probably included with your purchase. So be sure that if you already have the exam, that you’re not buying an extra one that you don’t need.

Online TAPSeries course: $85

Online Learn2Serve Course & exam: $125

Online ServSafe Course & exam: $153


The Learn2Serve online course does include an exam and certification, but it’s not ServSafe. However, the exam is ANSI-CFP accredited so that it is valid in most jurisdictions. You will need a proctor to be present during the exam and he/she will have additional fees.

The online ServSafe course includes an exam, but you will still need to find a ServSafe proctor to administer the exam. The proctor will have additional fees for his/her services.

Here at the Hospitality Training Center, we recommend either the classroom training or the TAPSeries online course. The TAPSeries online course prepares you for the ServSafe Manager exam and has a high pass rate. They also have the most flexible refund policy and 24hr customer service.

ServSafe Manager classroom training: $150 – $250

Usually, the classroom training includes the cost of the exam and the proctor fees. Often times people find the classroom option to be the easiest. Because your instructor/proctor can assist you along the way with the process of becoming certified.

ServSafe sells lots of training and exam materials, but you really only need to pass the exam to become ServSafe certified. The training courses, study guides, and textbooks are optional.

But the ServSafe Manager exam is not easy and unless you have extensive experience in a commercial kitchen or have taken an advanced culinary course, you will probably fail.

It is highly recommended that you take a food safety class or an online course before attempting the exam.

ServSafe Manager Online Exam: $36

ServSafe Manager Written Exam: $38

There is an online and written version of the exam. Both versions require a proctor to administer the exam. You will also need to have a proctor present when you take the exam. Proctors set their own fees and they vary greatly. If you live in California, Florida, Texas or Georgia you can find a proctor here on our website. If you don’t live in one of those states, you can find a proctor on the ServSafe website.

ServSafe Exam Proctor Fee: $50 – $100

The proctor fee may or may not include the cost of the exam. Be sure to check. If you bought an online course or a textbook, the exam is probably included with your purchase. So be sure that if you already have the exam, that you’re not buying an extra one that you don’t need.

Sometimes the prices vary depending on which state you work. This is because the training material could be slightly different so that it adheres to your state’s guidelines. Follow the links below to see which course is appropriate for you.

Online TAPSeries course: $85

Online Learn2Serve Course & Exam: $125

Online ServSafe Course & Exam: $153


The Learn2Serve online course does include an exam and certification, but it’s not ServSafe. However, the exam is ANSI-CFP accredited so that it is valid in most jurisdictions. You will need a proctor to be present during the exam and he/she will have additional fees.

The online ServSafe course includes an exam, but you will still need to find a ServSafe proctor to administer the exam. The proctor will have additional fees for his/her services.

Here at the Hospitality Training Center, we recommend either the classroom training or the TAPSeries online course. The TAPSeries online course prepares you for the ServSafe Manager exam and has a high pass rate. They also have the most flexible refund policy and 24hr customer service.

ServSafe Manager classroom training: $150 – $250

Usually, the classroom training includes the cost of the exam and the proctor fees. Often times people find the classroom option to be the easiest. Because your instructor/proctor can assist you along the way with the process of becoming certified.

There are four ways that people usually find a ServSafe food safety class. There official ServSafe website has a list of classes. You can search for your city in their directory (or a nearby city) and see a list of class schedules.

Sometimes your state’s health department will have a list of classes and proctors.

And sometimes your states Restaurant Association will have a list of classes too.

Or you can just search on Google for ServSafe classes in your area. There are several independent instructors/proctors offering training in testing around the in states where this is required by law or regulations.

How much does ServSafe Handler certification cost?

ServSafe Handler certification is much easier and cheaper than Manager certification. This is the most common certification that people receive from ServSafe.

The ServSafe Handler assessment does not require a proctor. Typically the assessment is included in the cost of the online course or a class. Usually when people are asked by their employer to get “ServSafe certified” they just mean to get a “food handlers card” or “food handlers permit”. ServSafe is just one of several companies providing food handler certification.

Sometimes the prices vary depending on which state you work. This is because the training material could be slightly different so that it adheres to your state’s guidelines. Follow the links below to see which course is appropriate for you.

ServSafe Handler Online Course & Assessment: $15

TAPSeries Handler Online Course & Assesment:

Learn2Serve Handler Online Course & Assesment: $10

How Much Does ServSafe Alcohol Certification cost?

The ServSafe Alcohol course includes an exam and you do not need a proctor to be present during the exam. ServSafe is only one of a few training courses available. Be sure that the course and exam you are taking is approved in your state. ServSafe is NOT approved in every state so you may need to take a different course.

Sometimes the prices vary depending on which state you work. This is because the training material could be slightly different so that it adheres to your state’s guidelines. Also, some course may not be available in your state. Follow the links below to see which course is appropriate for you.

ServSafe Alcohol Online Course & Test: $30

TAPSeries Alcohol Online Course & Test: $19.95

360Training Alcohol Online Course & Test: $12

How Much Does ServSafe Allergens Cost?

The ServSafe Allergens certification has an exam and a certification. But you do not need a proctor to be present for the exam. The ServSafe Allergen program is not approved in every state. For example, Massachusetts doe not accept ServSafe for allergen certification. If you work in Massachusets consider another program for your certification.

Sometimes the prices vary depending on which state you work. This is because the training material could be slightly different so that it adheres to your state’s guidelines. Also, some courses may not be available in your state. Follow the links below to see which course is appropriate for you.

ServSafe Allergen Online Course & Exam: $22

TAPSeries Allergen Online Course & Exam: $19.90

Learn2Serve Allergen Online Course & Exam: $15

How Much Does ServSafe Workplace Training Cost?

The ServSafe “Workplace” training online course is new and it’s the only course from ServSafe without an exam, so you are not truly considered as “certified” This training course focuses on creating a safe and appropriate work environment for all employees. The primary subject in this course is sexual harassment and discrimination. At the time of this writing, ServSafe is the only training company that provides this type of training that is centered on foodservice operations.

ServSafe Workplace Training Course: $22

What is a cross-connection in ServSafe?

Hose in dirty swimming pool.
Hose connected from cleat faucet to dirty bucket of water.

Food safety cross-connection

“A physical link through which contaminants from drains, sewers, or other wastewater sources can enter a drinkable water supply”

Basically, any connection between clean water and dirty water. And there are usually more places than you realize.

A hose connected to a faucet and submerged in a mop bucket is an example. Because sometimes air-pressure can change unexpectedly a create a “backflow”. Dirty water could flow into the clean water and contaminate it.

The same is true for a spray gun in the dish room. If it is left in the sink and the sink backs up with water overnight, this causes a cross-connection. The dirty water from the drain contaminated the water in the spray gun. Now if an employee uses that water assuming it’s clean, someone could get sick.

There are probably countless “cross-connections” in many topics of interest. The cross-connection in ServSafe is the same as it is referred to in all of food safety. It’s even the same cross-connection as it’s referred to in plumbing as well.

Cross-connection vs. Cross-contamination

Sometimes cross-connection is confused with cross-contamination. Basically, they are the same thing: when something dirty contaminates something that is supposed to be clean.

Cross-Connection usually deals with water, drains, pipes, hoses and such. There are a couple of special preventative measures used for this area and that will be explained below.

Cross-Contamination usually deals with situations like cutting raw chicken on a cutting board then using that same cutting board for something else. Or cutting food that will be served raw with a knife that was used to cut raw meat.

Air-Gap

An “Air-Gap” is a space of air between dirty water and clean water. For example, you do not want to have a hose from a faucet hanging into a sink of water. Instead, there should be an air gap.

Backflow Prevention Device

It there cannot be an “air-gap” then there should be a “back-flow prevention device”. If you must have a hose, drain or other means by which dirty water and clean water connect, then you should use a backflow prevention device. This is just the coupling at the end of a hose so that they can connect, but water is prevented from flowing in the wrong direction.

How to pass the ServSafe Managers Test

Student taking ServSafe test.

Passing the ServSafe Managers Test

So you need to pass the ServSafe Managers test in order to get your food managers certification. Either you are the owner of a food establishment or the manager of one. Or maybe you need this as part of your school curriculum. But it could be just another thing to add to your resume.

The ServSafe food manager is the highest (out of 4) certifications. Basically, it’s this person’s duty to monitor the safety of the food in a foodservice operation. And to instruct other employees on how to do the same. This is usually in addition to other regular duties.

Try our free ServSafe Practice Test and Study Guide

How hard is the ServSafe Managers Test?

The ServSafe Managers test has 90 questions but you’re only graded on 80 of them. Ten of the questions are there just for experimental purposes. The test is multiple choice with 4 possible answers. You have 2 hours to complete the exam and you must score at least 75% in order to pass. The exam is available online and in a written version and both require that a certified proctor be present during testing.

If you have not taken a food safety course or done quite a bit of self-study, you will fail. Unless you have extensive experience in a commercial kitchen or taken an advanced culinary course.

There are new terms to learn. New laws and regulations to be aware of. The process of purchasing and storing food and who are considered reputable suppliers.

You will have to memorize lots of temperature ranges for different foods, regarding cooking and storage. And how long food can be left in different temperatures before it must be thrown out.

You will have to learn about cleaning agents and procedures. And of course, personal hygiene is a big one.

There are a few different illnesses and bacteria/viruses that you will need to memorize too. And also the allergens.

So if you don’t already know all this stuff, get ready for a crash course!

How do I pass the test?

You can take an online course or attend a class. Or you can start reading a lot about the food safety practices that restaurants adhere to.

You can find things online to help you study, but if you’re not going to take a class or an online course, then you should try to get your hands on the latest edition of the ServSafe Manager textbook. Currently the 7th Edition in late 2019.

Of course, you could buy one from the ServSafe website but you don’t have to. Maybe your local public library has one. Check the college, vo-tech and university libraries too, especially if they have a culinary program. Or ask around, maybe a coworker has one. Even if it’s not the current edition usually they are pretty close.

If you need to buy one, check Amazon, there are usually some for sale but the exam voucher is usually missing.

Amazon also has a rental program for the ServSafe Managers Textbook. The listings I saw claim to include the exam answer sheet for $40. But Amazon also does not guarantee that all “CD’s and Additions” will still be in the book rental.

Our website has lots of free resources for you. You can start by taking our ServSafe Practice Test just to get a feel for it. Then if you fail then you can take refresher with our ServSafe Study Guide and try again.

ServSafe Practice Test

If you go with the online course you can take the official ServSafe Managers course if you like, but you don’t have to. There are other accredited companies offering the same material for a lower price. You just need to make sure the course is accredited by the ANSI and the CFP. (The American National Standards Institute and the Conference for Food Protection).

If you decide to go with taking a class then you will have to find one. There are classes advertised on the official ServSafe website. And there could be classes advertised on your states Restaurant Association website. Sometimes there are classes advertised on your state or local health department website. And if all else fails, just do a Google search for “servsafe class near me”. This is usually your best option for finding a class. Because usually, you will find a small business owner who does this professionally every day. And she can guide you through the entire process and often times hand you a printed ServSafe Managers certificate after the exam. Also, oftentimes there is some competition between a couple of “food safety training” companies in your city and this where you will get the best, fastest, and cheapest service.

If you take a class your instructor will probably handle the exam for you. But if you take an online course or do self-study then you will need to find a proctor to give you the exam.
If you happen to live in California, Texas, Florida or Georgia we have a directory of ServSafe proctors that may be available to administer the exam for you. They are not employees of the Hospitality Training Center and they may not be employees of ServSafe either. Also, they are not free and they set their own fees.

Is the ServSafe test hard?

Chef getting angry about a hard ServSafe test.
Chef getting angry about a hard ServSafe test.

How hard is the ServSafe exam?

Well, it depends on which ServSafe test you’re talking about. And it depends on how much training, experience, and preparation you have before taking the test.

There are five different ServSafe training courses and four of them have a test and certification. Sometimes the test is referred to as an “exam” or an “assessment”, but it’s really just a test. A certificate is earned after passing the test. The ServSafe Workplace course is the only one that does not have a test and therefore does not have a certification.

1) ServSafe Manager

2) ServSafe Handler

3) ServSafe Alcohol

4) ServSafe Allergens

5) ServSafe Workplace

Most people who ask this question are wanting to know about the ServSafe Manager exam. So this article will focus on that. The short answer to this question is, “yes”. Don’t worry too much though, because most people pass. But, most people also complete an 8-hour training course before attempting the exam. If you have not taken a food safety training course or did lots of self-study, you will probably fail. Unless you have extensive experience in a restaurant kitchen, then it could be possible to pass without training or study.

The ServSafe Manager exam will test your knowledge of six categories of food safety in a commercial kitchen. They are:

1) Foodborne Microorganisms and Allergens

2) Personal Hygiene

3) Purchasing, Receiving and Storage

4) Preparation, Cooking, and Serving

5) Facilities, Cleaning/Sanitizing, and Pest Management

6) Regulatory Authorities.

The ServSafe Manager test has 90 questions. But 10 of those questions are not graded. They are just to determine the quality of the question and if it will be included in future exams. You will not know which 10 questions they are, they are randomly mixed with the real questions.

You need to achieve a minimum score of 75% in order to pass. That means you need to correctly answer 60 of the 80 questions that are graded. The exam is multiple choice with four possible answers.

The test is timed and you have two hours to finish, but most people finish within an hour. At the end of the two hours, any questions left unanswered will be counted as incorrect. So watch the clock, and if you are running out of time, start guessing!

The test is available in a paper version and online. Both versions require a proctor to be present. A proctor is a person authorized by ServSafe to give the exam. You cannot take the exam without a proctor.

The online version has some advantages. The biggest advantage is that your results are available immediately after completion, whereas the written version must be mailed in for grading.

If you are stuck on a difficult question, the online exam allows you to “mark for review” the question so that you can come back to it later. This is useful because maybe the question was worded in a tricky way and after you finish the rest of the questions it may become easier to understand – or guess at. Obviously, the written version also has this feature without a need to mark the question.

What happens if you fail the ServSafe test?

If you fail the ServSafe test try not to let it bother you too much. The worst part about failing is that you will have to take it again and pay for it again. The other bad part about it is that you may be embarrassed or your employer may have doubts about your ability to be a food safety manager.

But the good news is that you can try again. You just have to wait at least 24 hours before you can try again. If you fail a second time then you will have to wait at least 60 days before you can try a third time.

You can take the test as many times as you need to in order to pass. The only rules are that you can only take the test twice in a 30 day period. And if you fail both times in that period, you have to wait at least 60 days to try again.

Unfortunately, the questions are changed every 30 days. So you are not able to keep trying until you have them all memorized then research the answers online at home. However, some of the questions and answers could be the same if taken twice in one month.

We have some resources on our website to help you prepare for the exam and also to see if you’re ready to take it. First try this practice test to see if you can pass and if you fail, use the study guide to help yourself prepare. Good luck!

How long does ServSafe certification last?

ServSafe Manager Certificate

So how long is your ServSafe certificate good for? The short answer is that you could remain certified for up to 10 years without needing to take another exam. Or you may need to retake the exam every 3 years in order to stay certified. It all depends on which ServSafe certificate you have and which jurisdiction you work in. 

You can find these same answers on the official ServSafe website, but you will probably think our website is easier to understand.

There are several different ServSafe certificates and each is good for a different length of time

Your city or state may require different certification periods that override ServSafe

Your city or state may have a “re-certification” program

You may qualify for a “grace period”

How long is the ServSafe Manager certificate good for?

The ServSafe Food Protection Manager Certification is valid for a period of 5 (five) years. After 5 years you will have to pass another exam to maintain your certification. You do NOT have to complete a training course, you only need to pass the exam.

Although your ServSafe Food Protection Manager certificate expires after 5 years, your local license may expire sooner than that. Some state and local jurisdictions and company policies will only recognize the certification as valid for three years like the District of Columbia, Maryland, and parts of Virginia.

You may or may not need to keep your ServSafe certificate current in order to stay compliant with your local regulations, but usually, you do not. Check with your state’s health department and the internal policies of your workplace for complete information.

How long is the ServSafe Handlers certificate good for?

The ServSafe Food Handlers Certification is valid for a period of 3 (three) years. After 3 years you will need to pass another exam, also called a food handlers assessment. You do NOT need to complete another training, but individual exams aren’t available without also purchasing the training course. So maybe you would want to complete the training anyway, just as a refresher.

Although your ServSafe food handler certificate expires after 3 years, your local “food handlers card” may expire sooner or later than ServSafe. You may or may not need to keep your ServSafe certificate current in order to stay compliant with your local regulations, but usually, you do not. Check with your state’s health department and the internal policies of your workplace for complete information.

How long is the ServSafe Alcohol certificate good for?

The ServSafe Alcohol certification is valid for a period of 3 (three) years. After 3 years you will need to complete another training course and pass the exam in order to maintain your certification. ServSafe alcohol exams are only available for purchase with the training course. Exams are available for re-testing in the event that you fail, but you must have completed the course in order to re-test.

Although your ServSafe Alcohol certificate expires after 3 years, your local license may expire sooner or later than ServSafe. Several states have additional testing and licensing requirements, such as the BASSET program in Illinois. Check with your local health department for more details regarding the expiration of your certificate.

How long is the ServSafe Allergens certificate good for?

The ServSafe Allergens certification is valid for a period of 5 (five) years. You will need to retake the exam (also called an assessment) before it expires in order to maintain your certification status with ServSafe. You do NOT need to complete another training course but the assessment is not available for purchase individually and must be purchased along with the course.

Although your ServSafe Allergens certificate expires after 5 years, your local license may have a different time frame. Check with your local health department for more information regarding the expiration of your certificate.

What can you do with a ServSafe certificate?

One of the benefits of being ServSafe certified is that you’ll have more job opportunities.

Many restaurant owners are looking for cooks and chefs who already have their ServSafe certificate. This way they can avoid the costs involved with new certifications or any other hassles or worries.

Some ServSafe managers are going a step further and becoming an exam proctor as well. This could be very useful for potential employers because it would be a valuable resource to have on the staff.

Not to mention the money you could be making on the side by proctoring exams for people who took an online course. Or if you got what it takes you could start teaching the classes yourself after you complete the instructor process.

  • If you have a Facebook account you can request to become a moderator of the Hospitality Training Center Facebook page. Then you can create events for your classes or proctoring services and edit them whenever you like. It’s free to create events on the HTC Facebook page. You can charge your students an appropriate fee for your services.
  • If you have a Gmail account you can request to add events to the HTC website calendars. After you’re approved you could add, remove or edit your events directly from your Gmail account. You could update as often as you like and it would instantly be live on the website. Here is a calendar for ServSafe events in Jacksonville, FL for example. It’s free for certified proctors and instructors to create events on the HTC calendar. You can charge your students an appropriate fee for your services.

Their are lots of restaurant owners and managers connected on our Facebook page. You can like our page and share your resume on our news feed. You can Google us at Hospitality Training Center to find more food service opportunities.

It seems like every year there are new municipalities that require food manager certification. We created a guide with an interactive map from ServSafe to show the manager rules for each state.