Posted on: August 4, 2022

ServSafe Certified Meaning: What is ServSafe Alcohol Training?

ServSafe Certified Meaning

If you're in the market for regulatory or responsible alcohol seller/server training, then you've probably run across two of the biggest names in the industry: ServSafe and TIPS.  

What are the differences between them, and which one is better for you? 

What is ServSafe Alcohol Certification? 

"ServSafe certification" is sometimes used as shorthand for responsible alcohol training. ServSafe” is as common a word as “Kleenex.” The truth is that it's just the brand name of one provider. 

There's a good reason it has good name recognition – ServSafe is run by the National Restaurant Association (NRA). A recent New York Times investigation revealed that ServSafe doubles as the fundraising arm for the NRA, fighting increases to the minimum wages for restaurant workers across the country.  

It's important to realize that ServSafe isn't your only option for responsible alcohol server training. If you are interested in a provider that is focused more on creating safe, healthy communities through education and not focused on politics and self-interest, there are better options available.  

For now, we’ll shed a little light on the two of the biggest names in the industry: ServSafe and TIPS. 

What are the differences between them, and which one is better for you?

What is TIPS Certification? 

"TIPS certification" is another popular option.  

TIPS (Training for Intervention ProcedureS) is a skills-based training program designed to prevent intoxication, underage drinking, and drunk driving. 

Are ServSafe and TIPS Certifications the Same? 

Yes and no. The devil's in the details. 

Both ServSafe and TIPS provide on-premise responsible alcohol handler training for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Both have classroom and online training options. On-premise ServSafe and TIPS courses are different, but they cover similar subject matter and have similar learning objectives.  

That said, if you're trying to comply with the requirements of a local jurisdiction, insurance company, or employer, you should check which providers and formats are officially approved. We make it easy to look up where TIPS is approved to meet state and local regulatory training requirements. 

Which Costs Less, ServSafe or TIPS? 

Pricing for equivalent ServSafe and TIPS courses will depend on jurisdiction, course format, bundle type, bulk rates, and more.  

But at the end of the day, their pricing is similar. 

Sometimes ServSafe is cheaper, and sometimes TIPS will be.  

Do ServSafe and TIPS Offer Other Courses? 

As we said, both programs offer alcohol server training for restaurants and bars across the US. After that, their catalogs start to differ. 

ServSafe is run by the National Restaurant Association, so their alcohol training focuses on on-premise settings in the US only. In addition, they offer food safety and HR compliance courses tailored to the restaurant industry. 

TIPS, on the other hand, focuses on global responsible alcohol training for a variety of businesses. In addition to restaurants and bars, they offer seller/server training for liquor stores, grocery stores, casinos, concession stands, college campuses, and alcohol delivery.  

While TIPS itself only offers courses on responsible alcohol sales and service, it's now owned by 360training. As a result, businesses can bundle TIPS courses with an even broader catalog of compliance training solutions than ServSafe has to offer, including required OSHA training and a larger number of HR courses.  

Additionally, 360training owns another line of state-accepted alcohol seller/server courses under the Learn2Serve brand. This means that employers trying to satisfy regulatory requirements in multiple jurisdictions can choose the appropriate and accepted course type for each location's needs. 

tips vs servsafe infographic

360training also has enterprise solutions that include dedicated account management, bulk pricing, and LMS integrations (or a free LMS, if you need one). 

Should You Choose ServSafe or TIPS? 

There really isn't one answer for which program is right for you. It depends on a number of factors. 

The first step is to check your state and local regulations. Not all jurisdictions regulate alcohol seller/server training, but jurisdictions that do either mandate training or set up a voluntary program that provides protections and benefits. Jurisdictions with either program type will typically have a list of approved or accepted course providers, and you'll want to make sure you choose one of those. 

You may be trying to meet someone's requirements in addition to or instead of a local regulatory program. If you're an individual purchasing your own training, your employer may have a brand preference. If you're a business, insurance companies may grant discounts or other benefits to businesses that use their accepted training providers.  

If both ServSafe Alcohol and TIPS are acceptable for the requirements you're trying to meet, you'll want to decide between them by comparing content, cost, and how many additional training needs can be served by each vendor. For example:  

  • US restaurants and bars with limited HR training needs can be served well by either brand. 

  • TIPS/360training as a one-stop shop for businesses with broader training needs, including employment law, OSHA compliance, and professional development for managers and employees.  

  • TIPS can provide responsible seller/server training for international chains

  • ServSafe Alcohol can provide a targeted on-premise solution for issues unique to cruise lines; TIPS for gaming, concessions, university, and alcohol delivery settings. 

  • TIPS can provide off-premise responsible alcohol training courses as well as on-premise. 

  • Entertainment venues in Nevada can get a whole-training solution with TIPS/360training that includes state-mandated OSHA 10/30 training plus alcohol courses that speak directly to the issues faced by gambling facilities. 

Get started today by enrolling directly through GetTIPS or on 360training's website