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Catering Careers and Jobs May Be Distinguished through Certification

What is a CPCE credential?


Catering professionals probably play one of the most important roles in planning and executing events today, and hospitality catering jobs account for a significant portion of employment in this industry.

Whether your interest is to find catering manager jobs or starting your own event catering business, the Certified Professional Catering Executive (CPCE) the professional designation that is administered by the National Association of Catering Executives (NACE). “Earning the CPCE designation communicates professionalism, gives you instant respect and strengthens your earning power,” says Leslie Jones, director of education and certification at the National Association of Catering Executives, Columbia, MD.

The CPCE exam focuses on seven core catering competencies: Accounting, Beverage Management, Catering Services, Contracts and Agreements, Event Management, Food Production and Sales and Marketing.

Jones says that the CPCE program elevates not only the individuals who earn it, but the profession as a whole in the following ways:

  • Establishing a nationally recognized standard of competence in catering.
  • Promoting professional commitment to excellence in catering.
  • Endorsing active participation in educational offerings that support the continued competency of Certified Professional Catering Executives.
  • Aiding employers in identifying qualified catering personnel.
  • Enhancing the professional image of the catering executive.
  • Providing a sense of personal achievement for the advancement of one’s career.

As of May 2010, about 25 catering professionals earn their CPCE designation each year. While it’s difficult to determine a specific profile, most catering professionals who earn their CPCE typically have 10 or more years of experience in the industry and work as a director of catering, catering sales manager, director of food and beverage or director of sales and marketing, according to Jones.

CPCE Application Process

Those interested in sitting for the CPCE exam must apply to become a candidate. The detailed application process awards points for a variety of career-oriented accomplishments: education and continuing education, membership in recognized organizations and associations, leadership positions offered within those organizations, and speaking engagements.

NACE offers CPCE candidates either a recorded training course to be used as independent study, or a 7-week web-based training program, to assist in preparation for the CPCE exam. In addition, NACE offers a one-day in person fast track training that reviews the entire course material.

There is an application fee of USD $395 for NACE members and USD $495 for non-members. The fee includes a study guide.

Those who receive their CPCE are required to earn 60 continuing education points every 5 years are required to keep their certification active.

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