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Certifications in the Canadian Hospitality Industry

Certifications in the Canadian Hospitality Industry

By Kerry Knapp
Monster Contributing Writer

You had a great interview, you looked them in the eye, your answers were spot-on and you had all the qualifications listed. You even wore a clean shirt! So what went wrong?

If going to interviews and coming home empty-handed is becoming a habit, chances are that other candidates have more to offer. These days, you can’t afford to coast by with the minimum. Just like every other field, hospitality is a rapidly developing industry and you’ve got to keep pace.

So before you start planning your next interview, take a few minutes to think about your career and where you want to take it. Then find out what certifications will help you get there. Check out online postings and want ads or talk to prospective employers, teachers and colleagues to see what qualifications will help tip the balance in your favour. Industry websites and government resources like Service Canada’s, which lists the basic qualifications needed for countless jobs, can be a great help.

Professional certifications are granted by an astonishing variety of organizations. Don’t overlook:

  • equipment manufacturers
  • industry lobby groups
  • major employers
  • vocational schools

Need more pointers? Check out the hospitality industry jobs listed below for some of the extra certifications employers are asking for and where you can get them.

Food and beverage services are a mainstay of the hospitality industry.

More and more employers are asking bar staff to have bartending certification. Luckily, there’s no shortage of training schools for bartenders. Private schools like Toronto Institute of Bartending, Fine Art Bartending School in the western provinces and the Absolute Bartending Institute in Montreal offer courses in advanced mixology, serving with flair, and even “martini madness.” (Sign me up!) You can check them all out online. Improve your chances by picking up one other little item before interviewing: called “Responsible Beverage Service” certification in Manitoba, “Serving It Right” in BC and “Smart Serve” in Ontario, it proves you’re trained on bartenders’ professional responsibilities and dealing with intoxication and aggressive customers.

Cooks usually need only a college or apprenticeship program, but trade certification is available as an extra. If you want to work in another province or territory, apply for a Red Seal under the Interprovincial Standards Program. Other certifications include food safety certification, meat cutter certification and diplomas from schools like the Canadian Culinary Institute, which awards “Chef de cuisine” certification, and the Culinary Arts School of Ontario, which awards a Culinary Arts Diploma and Professional Baker Certificate, among others. See all jobs for Cooks.

If you work in the wonderful world of travel and tourism, these pointers are for you!

Travel agents can get basic certification from the Canadian Institute of Travel Counsellors and extra certification from the ACTA/CITC Canadian Educational Standards System (ACCESS). In addition, qualified agents can earn certifications from company-sponsored programs like the Uniglobe Counsellor Excellence Program.

If you’re the adventurous sort looking for employment as an outdoor adventure and recreation guide, you’ll be required to have proven ability in your area of expertise—for example, white-water rafting. You may also need other qualifications such as CPR, first-aid, lifeguard or rescue training.

Don’t forget the hundreds of jobs available at entertainment venues across the country:

Casino staff may require security clearance and casino gaming licenses. Security guards may need training in CPR and first aid. In Quebec, croupiers must have successfully passed the training program provided by the Société des casinos du Québec.

Along with artistic flair and an ability to hit the high notes, musicians and singers may require membership in a guild or union.

So the next time you’re looking for employment in the hospitality industry, get all the facts on certifications in your line of work before you apply. With a little luck, you’ll find the hospitality industry very …. hospitable!

See all hospitality jobs on

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