Frequently Asked Questions


Still have questions about ServSafe? You've come to the right place.

See the most commonly asked questions about the program below.

Neacia Pacheco

For more information, please contact:

Neacia Pacheco | ServSafe Coordinator

How many food safety managers does my business need?

The state of Wisconsin requires every licensed foodservice establishment to have at least one certified manager on staff. It’s good practice for any establishment to have at least one manager per shift. Whenever the CFM is not on premise, they must designate a Person In Charge (PIC) and train them in food safety rules – the PIC must have the same knowledge as the CFM and be able to demonstrate that knowledge.

How do I become a certified manager?

You must first pass a state-approved certification exam like ServSafe Manager®. Once you’ve completed an approved certfication exam, post the certificate at your establishment.

My Certified Food Manager status is expiring—how do I renew?

To renew a CFM in Wisconsin, first pass an approved certification exam like ServSafe Manager. You then post your certificate. You must renew your CFM status within six months of the expiration date

Did the process for renewing a food manager license change?

Yes. On January 1, 2015, the process for Wisconsin Certified Food Manager renewal became exactly the same as the process for initial certification. Each CFM needs to pass an approved exam every five years, instead of a three-hour refresher course. However, establishments that have five or fewer food handlers across the entire staff (including front- and back-of-house) may qualify for renewal without exam under Wisconsin Licensure of Food Safety Training for Small Operators if they meet the qualifications. More information on these qualifications is noted below.

Is an exam required for renewal?

Yes. A state-approved exam, like ServSafe, must be taken every five years for CFM recertification; the state requires this within 6 months of expiration. However, a select group of small establishments may renew licensure without exam if they qualify; the majority of establishments WILL NOT meet the criteria; CFMs working in the City of Milwaukee are required to recertify by exam every five years regardless of staff size.

Is a training course required for certification or renewal?

No. The state of Wisconsin doesn’t require taking a training course prior to taking an approved exam, but it’s a good idea. Taking a live review course like ServSafe Manager can save time, money and hassles over other methods.

If I don’t want to take a live training and review course, what are my other options?

Attending a live review session like ServSafe Manager is recommended, but taking online training or self-study with the current version of the ServSafe Manager book prior to examination are also good options. It is not recommended to take an exam without adequate preparation.

What is my least expensive option for certification and renewal?

A live review course, like ServSafe Manager, might offer the smallest investment of money and time. It includes the most recent edition of the ServSafe Manager book (sent in advance for self-study), the one-day review session, the proctored certification exam, all exam fees and lunch—it’s the best value and most comprehensive option. Remember, exam fees and proctor fees are not included with online training or the independent book study.

What does the online training entail?

ServSafe Manager online takes 6-8 hours to complete, but you may log in and out of it as many times as needed over a 90-day period. Upon finishing, you must take a proctored exam. The exam and proctor fees are not included with the online training.

How do I find a proctor?

There are three ways to find a proctor:

  1. Contact an area technical college to see if they have a ServSafe registered proctor;
  2. Visit this page for a list of ServSafe proctors in Wisconsin (proctors are not available in all areas); or
  3. Attend a live ServSafe Manager course as an exam only and take the paper exam.

What are the qualifications for Wisconsin Licensure of Food Safety Training for Small Operators?

Businesses are eligible for this type of renewal ONLY if:

  1. The establishment has five (5) or fewer food handlers on the entire staff, including front- and back-of-house or anyone who handles or prepares food in any way;
  2. The person already has a state-issued Certified Food Manager status;
  3. The CFM status is within six months of the expiration date;
  4. The person does not work in the City of Milwaukee, which requires renewal by testing; and
  5. The person is not required by employer to have a valid ServSafe certificate, which requires renewal by testing.

What type of staff is considered a food handler?

Any staff who handles or prepares food in any way counts as a food handler. This includes bartenders who cook a pizza or servers who plate salads, ladle soup into bowls or cut and plate desserts. If you have more than five food handlers on your entire staff (not just on a single shift), you must take an approved certification exam to renew your CFM status in Wisconsin and the small operator renewal is not an option for you.

Is a training course required for the small operator renewal option?

Yes, qualifying operators who wish to renew their Wisconsin Licensure of Food Safety Training for Small Operators must complete a state-approved review, but will not need to take the exam (this includes ServSafe Manager Online Course through However, the City of Milwaukee requires examination regardless of staff size.

What are the rules for the City of Milwaukee?

Establishments that are located in the City of Milwaukee require renewal of CFM status by examination, regardless of staff size.

What if I have additional questions?

For information about the ServSafe Manager program, visit or call (800) 589-3211, Monday-Friday from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm.

How do I Receive My Certificate?

To receive a copy of your ServSafe Manager’s Certification, go to Log in if you have an account or create an account (you must enter your first & last name and email address exactly as you recorded it on your exam answer sheet for your exam). You will need to know your Exam Session number, which is provided by the WRA the day of your review. Click on “Certificates” then “View/Print Certificates.”

When do new businesses need to have a CFM? What happens if the CFM on record leaves the company?

The state requires that an establishment that is new or undergoing a change-of-operator must have a food manager with the appropriate credential within the first 90 days after opening.

An establishment must have a food manager with the appropriate credential within 90 days of the former CFM’s termination date.