Certified SQF Practitioner Credential

The Certified SQF Practitioner credential provides a consistent framework for food safety and is created in collaboration between SQFI and Exemplar Global. Those who earn this voluntary professional certification credential demonstrate their ability to implement, maintain, and continuously improve an SQF food safety system at any site. This voluntary certification is expected to be part of a defined professional path for the SQF Practitioner that ensures a standardized set of skills and knowledge, a clear roadmap for career development, and a way to acquire new skills and gain valuable experience, leading to professional growth. 

Most importantly, the Certified SQF Practitioner credential builds trust and reliability in our food safety systems while enhancing the credibility of our industry. When practitioners follow defined career paths, it demonstrates their commitment to professionalism, continual learning, and excellence. This boosts confidence in our food safety systems among companies and consumers alike.

Companies employing certified SQF practitioners can showcase their commitment to food safety and quality, setting themselves apart in the market.

The Role of SQF Practitioners

SQF practitioners are the linchpins of food safety, ensuring the food supply chain meets the highest standards. Their responsibilities, from crafting meticulous food safety plans to conducting rigorous internal audits, are pivotal in upholding the integrity of our food.

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Kristie Grzywinski

Technical Director, SQFI


Recognizing the dedication and expertise of SQF practitioners, many individuals have self-declared their status as such. However, there was a shared understanding within the industry that formal recognition was needed to honor their contributions and provide a clear pathway for career growth.

Benefits of Holding the Certified SQF Practitioner Credential

The Certified SQF Practitioner credential offers a structured career path for food safety professionals within the food industry. Importantly, the credential demonstrates a commitment to ensuring food safety and quality management and recognition of the SQF Practitioner role, competence, and supports SQF’s vision to be a trusted source for global food safety and quality certification.

For the food safety professional, this credential creates:

  • Recognition: A professional path to career growth and to attract new talent into the food safety professional community.
  • Continuous Improvement: Improvement of the SQF Practitioner profession, including a framework for continuing professional development within this critical role.
  • Career Growth: Validity when SQF Practitioners change roles, in that their skills are transferrable. 
  • Competitive Advantage: In competitive job marketing, holding a globally recognized credential that employers will value is an advantage.
  • Workforce: A pipeline of trusted food safety professionals to feed into the SQF auditor pool.
  • SQF Program Knowledge: This credential is a natural bridge between the Code requirements for the SQF Practitioner and the SQF Excellence Award for the SQF Practitioner.

The assessment of the Code requirements for the SQF Practitioner remains part of the annual SQF certification audit and is not replaced by this credential.   

  • Requirements for an SQF practitioner are described in the SQF Food Safety Code elements and 
  • The Certified SQF Practitioner credential is not part of this Code requirement.  

Industry Collaboration: A Key Component

Industry collaboration is the cornerstone of this endeavor. In developing criteria for this crucial credential, SQFI and Exemplar Global engaged two vital groups of experts. The Industry Stakeholder Group defined the certification scope and pathways, serving as a weather mark for the criteria outlined by the Industry Subject Matter Expert group. This latter group focused on defining the knowledge, skills, and abilities of the Certified SQF Practitioner. Lastly, we thank the food safety community for their invaluable feedback during the public comment period.

By engaging with professionals from various food industry sectors, we gathered valuable insights and perspectives. This collaboration ensured that the Certified SQF Practitioner credential would be relevant, practical, and widely recognized within the industry.

Certification bodies also played a crucial role in this process, providing valuable input on the certification structure and requirements. Their expertise and guidance were instrumental in shaping the final certification framework.

Built By Industry Professionals

The following food industry professionals helped create the Certified SQF Practitioner credential.

Built by Industry professionals
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Certified SQF Practitioner Requirements

To earn the Certified SQF Practitioner credential, candidates must have at least 2 years of food industry experience. They also need a sponsor to verify their skills. Additionally, candidates must complete a HACCP course, an internal auditing course such as our SQF Implementing: Internal Auditing course, either our Implementing SQF Systems - Primary Production exam or our Implementing SQF Systems - Manufacturing exam, and our soon to be released Certified Practitioner exam.


Collaboration with Exemplar Global

The development of the Certified SQF Practitioner credential was made possible through a robust collaboration between SQFI and Exemplar Global. For 15 years, SQFI and Exemplar Global have been strong partners, administering the SQF Food Safety Auditor program with and for SQFI.


Exemplar Global

This partnership has been instrumental in meeting the evolving needs of the food industry. Over the past three years, SQFI and Exemplar Global have collaborated across operations and strategic areas to align the certification with industry needs. In 2022, they achieved IAS (International Accreditation Service) accreditation, with a scope including the SQF Food Safety Auditor program.

The collaboration between SQFI and Exemplar Global serves as a model for establishing trust and confidence within the industry. This longstanding partnership has paved the way for the Certified SQF Practitioner credential, ensuring it meets the highest standards of quality and reliability.


Join Us in Elevating Food Safety

We invite all qualified practitioners to embark on this journey towards certification. Together, we can continue to ensure the safety and integrity of our food supply chain. The Certified SQF Practitioner credential is a testament to our commitment to excellence in food safety.

Let's unite to maintain the highest food safety and quality professional development.

We will have more information about the Certified SQF Practitioner credential coming soon. In the meantime, fill out the form if you are interested in learning more about this credential.