How Do I Get a Food Handlers Card in Virginia
The steps vary by which local health department you work under in Virginia, however, generally speaking, it's an easy three-step process:
- Take an approved food handlers course
- Pass the test
- Present your training certificate to your employer or local health authority.
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Does Virginia Require Training for Food Handlers?
While food handler training is recommended in all of Virginia, it's required by select counties or municipalities, especially in the southeastern part of the state. One example is Norfolk.
You should check with your local health department or your employer to learn the exact requirements. Often, there are restrictions on where you're allowed to get recognized training, so find out the rules before you sign up for a class.
Outside of local regulations, some employers will require a food handlers card to make sure you understand food safety. In other cases, employers will give hiring preference to job candidates with a license because that's one less on-the-job training topic they'll have to worry about.
Can I Get My Food Handlers License Online?
It depends. If your local health authority requires a food handlers license, it's up to them to decide what kind of training is acceptable. Sometimes that includes online options, but it's not always guaranteed, so you need to ask. They may be very specific about the kind of program that's acceptable.
When you have the choice, online training can be a convenient and cost-effective solution. Just make sure you know the credentials of the training provider you sign up with. We recommend a course accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
ANSI is a nationally recognized authority on food safety protocols. Accredited courses, like our food handler permit course at Learn2Serve, by 360training, follow the highest standards for food handler training.
How Long Does a Virginia Food Handlers Certificate Last?
Check with your local health authority to learn their requirements. Generally, food handlers' certificates are valid for 2-3 years. Regular refreshers are important for practicing safety in an establishment that sells food.
Why Should I Take Training?
First of all, a few counties in the state of Virginia require training to be a worker in the food industry.
But more generally speaking, understanding food safety principles is important when you work with unpackaged or potentially hazardous food. Food workers play a big role in outbreaks of foodborne diseases.
In 2017, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that there was a total of 23 foodborne illness outbreaks in Virginia. This is down from the 30 outbreaks reported in 2016 and the 27 reported in 2015.
If you practice what you learn in your training, you can help ensure the number of outbreaks continues going down.
What Jobs Can I Get in Virginia with My Food Handlers Permit?
In Virginia, you can work at a variety of establishments if you have your permit. Some examples include:
- Fast-Food Establishments
- Mobile Food Trucks
- Temporary Food Events (such as festivals & celebrations)
- Farmers Markets
- Cafeterias such as hospitals, schools & nursing homes
- Hotel Continental Breakfasts
- Bed & Breakfasts
And within each establishment, there are numerous jobs because the food and beverage industry in Virginia is growing fast.
According to the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association (VRLTA), in 2019 there were 378,600 restaurant and foodservice jobs, which translates to 9% of total employment. More importantly, that number is projected to grow 10% by the year 2029. Compare that to the national average job growth of 5%.
If you’re looking to get a job in the food and beverage industry, here are some good options, along with how much money you can expect to make based on wage data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
|Job Title||Average Hourly Wage||Average Yearly Wage|
|Fast Food Cook||$9.77||$20,320|
If you get your food handlers card before you apply for any of these jobs, you’ll be way ahead of the competition!
Where Can I Find More Information about Food Safety in Virginia?
Virginia Department of Health (VDH): The VDH is responsible for efforts to prevent and address foodborne illness in the Commonwealth. It's a good source for food safety resources, including the Virginia Food Code, food recalls, and food safety guidance documents.