How to Become a Certified Cheese Professional




The cheese sector in North America does not currently provide a standardized path for the development of cheese professionals. Surveys conducted by ACS demonstrate that the majority of professionals active in the field are self-taught, or have no more than on-the-job (non-formalized) training. As such, the Eligibility Committee worked hard to establish guidelines that are as inclusive of the various paths to professionalism as could be developed, while maintaining the integrity of a program intended to demonstrate at least a beginning level of mastery. It is important that candidates for Certification clearly understand the level of prior experience and knowledge required for successful completion of the exam. Eligibility is determined at time of application, all eligibility requirements MUST be attained at time of application. Future work hours are not considered in determining eligibility.



1. High school or GED basic education, AND

2. Four thousand (4,000) hours documentable paid or unpaid work experience in the cheese profession during the past six years (from 2012 to present). Acceptable and unacceptable examples are provided below.


1. High school or GED basic education, AND

1. Two thousand (2,000) hours documented paid or unpaid work experience in the cheese profession during the past six years (from 2012 to present), AND

2. Two thousand (2,000) hours of any combination of work experience and formal education, continuing education, or professional development. Acceptable examples of education/professional development are provided below.

Calculating Hours of Experience

4,000 hours = 40 hours/week x 50 weeks x 2 years = 2 years full time work equivalent, accumulated over the past six calendar years, or from 2012 to the present. If your job did not relate directly to cheese 100% of the time, then prorate your hours to reflect the time you actually worked with cheese.

Acceptable Work Experience

• Cheese-making/manufacturing

• Cheese sales or commerce (retail, wholesale, importing, exporting) includes sales/account representative or manager for food distributor

• Cheese-related writing, consultation or teaching at the professional level

• Trainer/educator in the cheese field

• Management of a cheese program or extensive work with cheese in a dining establishment

Unacceptable Work Experience

• Work unrelated to the cheese profession

• Purely administrative or supportive service in the cheese field (e.g. accounting, clerical, custodial)

All acceptable work experience should be reported in hours of actual employment (whether full-time or part-time). Fractional responsibility (i.e. working in an establishment where 50% of work is cheese-related) should be pro-rated appropriately. Employer name and dates of employment for each claimed work experience should be listed separately, totaling a minimum of 2,000 and a maximum of 4,000 hours for this section of the application.

Detailed documentation need not be presented at time of application, but is subject to random audit.

Acceptable Formal Education, Continuing Education, or Professional Development

Formal education includes credit-bearing college courses on cheese-related topics or those directly applicable to the cheese field (including cooking, gastronomy, dairy science, restauration) offered by accredited educational institutions (including universities, junior colleges, culinary schools, Wisconsin Cheese Master’s program, other agricultural degree programs on cheese making). There is no time limitation on this type of education; it may have been earned at any time in the past.

Continuing education includes short courses of varying length on cheese-related topics or those directly applicable to the cheese field which are generally non-credit bearing, offered by knowledgeable persons in the cheese profession. Programming at professional meetings is included in this category. A certificate of completion or other credential is generally provided as verification. Continuing education credit must have been earned within the past 6 years (from 2012 to present).

Certificate-Type Program Examples :

• Cheese U (Murray’s)

• Master Class (Artisanal)

• Cheese Studies Certificate Program (Boston U)

• Three Day Intensive Cheese Education Program (Cheese School of SF)

• Artisan Cheese Certificate Program (College of Marin)

• Cheese Education Guild Certificate programs (Toronto, Canada)

Internal training programs are generally offered within the context of full or part time employment in the cheese industry, and count as Continuing Education hours in addition to regular working hours.

Other Educational Experiences Include:

• Cheese education seminars

• Adult education programs

• Stand alone classes

• Seminars at conferences

Professional development includes engaging in activities in the cheese profession (other than work experience reported above) that demonstrate professional knowledge or commitment. Professional development must have been completed within the past 6 years (from 2012 to present). Some examples include:

• Active mentoring of one or more developing cheese professionals

• Preparing and presenting occasional lectures or articles for professionals or public on cheese-related topics

• Teaching classes at any of the above-listed educational programs, if not creditable as “employment”

• Attainment of ServSafe or similar certification of competence in cheese or related area

• Presenting at industry conferences, either serving on panels, organizing panels, etc.

• Participation in educational sessions at an ACS or similar cheese-oriented conference

• Volunteer work/committees/task forces for ACS or similar cheese-oriented organization

• Serving on boards or committees at cheese related organizations such as Cheese Guilds, ACS, NASFT, Milk Marketing Boards, etc.

• Writing books and articles on cheese related topics published by a secondary source

• Media appearances on cheese-related topics

• Development of a cheese-related marketing plan

• Development of a new cheese-related product

• Development of a novel program (e.g. in-house Affinage, etc.)

All acceptable educational or professional development time should be reported in hours of actual classroom, service, or other activity time involved. Reasonable preparation time may be included in reported hours of involvement, as appropriate. Each activity should be reported separately, noting the name of the activity; provider, recipient of service, etc.; month and year of completion; and claimed hours. Hours claimed for this section may be between 0 and 2,000.

Detailed documentation need not be presented at time of application, but is subject to random audit.

Rationale for the ACS Certification Eligibility Criteria

1. High school or GED graduation indicates a baseline level of literacy and academic attainment to function competently among members of the cheese profession and the public, and to continue to engage in future learning experiences

2. Work experience. This is one of the principal methods of acquisition of knowledge and skill in the cheese profession. Initially supervised, and later independent, progressively responsible work experience provides both factual knowledge and needed practical experience in the development of a cheese professional. The required amount of work experience (with or without additional more formal educational resources) was established by a group of recognized experts in the cheese profession.

3. Formal education, continuing education, and professional development activities in the cheese profession indicate the attainment and/or demonstration of additional elements of knowledge and skill important to the cheese professional. Acceptable hours of credit in this area, substituting for up to 2,000 hours of general work experience, were defined by a group of recognized experts in the cheese profession.

4. Candidates meeting these basic eligibility criteria are deemed by a group of recognized experts as likely to possess or have the ability to acquire a level of knowledge and skill in the cheese profession to succeed on the ACS Certification Examination.