Washington Food Handler Card Training

What is the #1 thing for me to know about Washington food handler training?

Washington ONLY accepts food handler cards from state government programs. You can either take in-person training from your local health department or use www.foodworkercard.wa.gov.

No other online training provider can provide your initial certification. Don't be fooled by unscrupulous websites who claim otherwise! 

However, once you have your food handler card, you can extend the expiration of the card by taking additional authorized training (see below). That includes the Food Protection Manager Training  from Learn2Serve, by 360training.

How do I get a food handler card in Washington?

It's easy! Reach out to your local health department or Washington state's official online training. Once you pass a state-issued exam, you'll get your Washington food handler card. 

Hang on to the original—Washington employers will often request a copy, because state law requires that a copy of your food handler card be on the premises at all times. But the card is yours, valid with any employer in any county, so it should stay in your files.

Does Washington require food handler training?

Yes. Under Chapter 246-217 of the Washington Administrative Code, all food workers must earn a recognized Washington food worker card within 14 days of starting employment.

Specifically, Washington defines "food worker" as anyone who works with unpackaged food, food equipment or utensils, or with any surface where people place unwrapped food. That includes not just waitstaff and cooks, but also bussers, dishwashers, food runners, and more.

Can I take an online course to get my food handler permit?

Yes, but the only authorized online training provider of Washington State food handler cards is www.foodworkercard.wa.gov.

How long does a Washington food handlers card last?

Your FIRST food handler card is valid for TWO years. Before the card expires, you'll need to repeat the class and pass the exam again.

After that, renewal cards are valid for THREE years. But you can earn a five-year card by completing authorized additional food safety training within the first two years of your renewal.

The Food Safety Protection Manager training from Learn2Serve is eligible and Washington-approved for this purpose.

Why should I take food handler training?

First of all, if you plan to work as a food employee, the state of Washington requires you to complete a food handler training course.

But you also need food safety training because food workers play an important role in public health.  And the number of foodborne illness outbreaks is rising in Washington State.

In 2017, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that there was a total of 67 foodborne disease outbreaks in Washington. This is up from the 58 outbreaks reported in 2016 and much higher than the 45 reported in 2015.

If you practice what you learn in food handler training, you can help ensure the number of outbreaks start going back down instead of continuing to rise.

What jobs can I get in Washington with my food handler license?

In Washington, you can use your food handler card at a variety of establishments. Some examples include:

  • Counter-service restaurants
  • Fast food restaurants
  • Fine-dining restaurants
  • Coffee shops and bakeries
  • Grocery stores
  • And many more…

And within each business there are numerous jobs because the food and beverage industry in Washington is growing extremely fast.

According to the Washington Hospitality Association (WHA), in 2019 there were 333,500 restaurant and food service jobs, which translates to 10% of total employment. More importantly, that number is projected to grow 11% by the year 2029.

If you’re looking to get a job in the food and beverage industry in Washington, 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
Dishwasher $13.27 $27,610
Waiter/Waitress $17.27 $35,930
Fast Food Cook $13.92 $28,960
Restaurant Cook $15.56 $32,370

Another thing to note is that you’ll need your Washington food handler card to get any of these jobs. And if you already have it before you apply, you’ll be way ahead of the competition!

Where can I find more information about food safety in Washington?

Washington State Department of Health: Learn more about Washington's food safety code and the regulations for food served or sold to the public in the state.

Washington Food Worker Manual: Find compliance and food safety answers in the state food and beverage workers' manual.

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