In a competitive industry where differentiation is key, one way to stand out is through certification. RCA offers two types of certification, the Certified Research Chefs (CRC®) and Certified Culinary Scientists (CCS®). Both are highly regarded by employers and the industry at large.
We spoke with Eric Iserman, CCS, director of product development at Save-A-Lot, to get a sense of how certification adds value to one’s professional development, in a real and tangible way.
Why did you choose to pursue certification?
Earning a CCS certification became a goal while I was in culinary school. As soon as I found out that the credential existed, I refocused my education to ensure I’d be able to earn it. Achieving certification had a significant influence on my decision to pursue Culinology as an undergraduate, which ultimately led me to the extremely satisfying career I have today.
Once I entered the professional world and started building research and development experience, it became clear that certification would be an ideal method to justify my advancement out of an entry- level position and into a senior role with my organization.
In your opinion, what is the value of certification?
Becoming certified brings value to a food industry professional in three specific ways: credibility, momentum and advancement.
Credibility: The food industry is a relatively small community. Establishing credibility as a qualified subject matter expert early in your career is extremely valuable from a long-term professional networking perspective.
Momentum: Once you find a role in the industry that’s satisfying, it’s easy to get complacent or pigeon-holed from a professional development perspective. By making certification a goal, professionals can continuously challenge themselves to maintain a working knowledge of food science and culinary concepts that extends beyond their day-today work. This also equips them to assume a wider variety of roles in industry.
Advancement: By earning the CCS or CRC certification, you immediately become a much rarer professional in the food industry with demonstrated knowledge and experience that is universally valued and sought after. New professional doors will immediately open and mid- to senior-level positions become significantly more accessible.
How has certification helped you grow professionally or strengthen your career?
Keeping certification on my radar since landing my first industry position encouraged me to continue learning and developing my food science and culinary knowledge, while working toward three years of research and development experience.
Actually earning the CCS equipped me to rapidly advance from my previous quality analyst role to a director of product development position in less than a year after becoming certified. In my experience, becoming certified was not simply a professional stepping stone — it was a catapult to senior leadership opportunities.