Add an ACFEF Apprenticeship Program - Educational Institutions

Levels | Requirements | Maintaining | Fees | Docs and Links | Tools | Application

ACFEF recognizes the need for students to have on-the-job training skills to meet the demands of the foodservice industry.

The ACFEF apprenticeship program provides chefs, trainers and instructors with a list of industry relevant knowledge and skills competencies across all kitchen stations. The competencies are reviewed and updated by the ACFEF Apprenticeship Committee to ensure trends and techniques are relevant and align with ACF certification requirements.

Upon successful completion of the program, apprentices are eligible for ACF certification and will have the education, skills and job experience needed to earn higher wages and have better job opportunities.

Benefits of Adding an ACFEF Apprenticeship Program

  • Give students on-the-job-training skills under supervision.
  • Improve student placement rates as apprentices become qualified staff.
  • Develop mutually beneficial relationships with the community.
  • Reinforce knowledge with practical experience.
  • Increase visibility and attendance by being listed on the ACF website

ACFEF Apprenticeship Program Levels

ACFEF offers three different program levels with a progressive ladder and the corresponding ACF certification at the completion of that program. Apprentices must complete a written and practical exam at the end of their apprenticeship to earn ACF certification. ACF certification is encouraged, but not required for apprentices to complete the apprenticeship program.

  • Fundamentals Cook: the program offers a minimum of 1,000 hours of on-the-job training and 90 hours of related instruction. The apprentice can earn their ACF Certified Fundamental Cook or ACF Certified Fundamental Pastry Cook credential after completing the program and exams. This program is structured to fit into high school and pre-apprenticeship programs and does not require full-time employment.
  • Culinarian: the program offers a minimum of 2,000 hours of on-the-job training and 240 hours of related instruction. The apprentice can earn their ACF Certified Culinarian or ACF Certified Pastry Culinarian credential after completing the program and exams.
  • Sous Chef: the program offers a minimum of 4,000 hours of on-the-job training and 420 hours of related instruction. The apprentice can earn their ACF Certified Sous Chef or Certified Working Pastry Chef credential after completing the program and exams.


  • The courses taught must include the knowledge competencies for the appropriate apprenticeship program level.
  • Instructors must meet the requirements of Qualified Culinary Instructors.
  • The educational institution must offer in-house foodservice operations or partner with foodservice establishments as the Place of Employment for apprentices.
  • Place of Employment must allow the apprentice to complete the Required Skills Competencies across ten (10) OJT Sections under a Supervising Chef.
  • Supervising chef to apprentice ratio cannot exceed 1:5.
  • Apprentices are paid a progressively increasing schedule of wages. Not required for the Fundamentals program for high school and pre-apprenticeship programs.
  • Two ACFEF evaluators (one industry, one educator) will perform a site visit to validate that the requirements are met. The site visit may be conducted in-person, virtually or a combination of both. ACFEF-accredited programs can align the apprenticeship site visit with their accreditation site visit.

Maintaining Recognition

  • Programs must submit an annual report to ensure database accuracy and maintenance fees.
  • First renewal is three (3) years from initial ACFEF recognition. Every renewal forward is five (5) years.

Program Fees

  • Initial application fee: $1,750 (includes proprietary RKSCs and site visit)
  • Renewal fee: $1,500 (includes site visit)
  • Annual maintenance fee: $150

Apprentice Fees*

  • Fundamental (1 year): $150
  • Culinarian (2 years): $200
  • Sous Chef (3 years): $250

* Apprentice fees include:

  • ACF Apprenticeship Portal access for apprentice and supervising chef
  • ACF national student membership
  • Access to free webinars and recorded presentations on the ACF Online Learning Center
  • ACF certification fees for the corresponding level, including access to the practice written exam.

Documents and Links

Tools to Support ACFEF-Recognized Programs

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