Established in 1953 as the nonprofit education and training arm of the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA), AHLEI’s mission is to be the preferred provider of quality resources to educate, develop, and certify hospitality students and professionals worldwide. AHLEI became part of the National Restaurant Association in 2017, connecting and leveraging the resources of two organizations that are deeply committed to a vision of career success and upward mobility for current and future hospitality, restaurant and foodservice employees.

AHLEI is pleased to work with DECA to offer industry-recognized certifications to both high school and college students. Through this partnership, high school and college students who achieve proficiency on DECA’s state/provincial-level and International Career Development Conference-level Hospitality & Tourism Cluster Exam will be awarded AHLEI’s Certified Guest Service Professional (CGSP®) designation.

Additionally, students achieving proficiency on the Collegiate DECA Conference-level Hospitality & Tourism Cluster Exam will be awarded the knowledge component of the Certified Hospitality Supervisor (CHS®) designation, exempting them from taking the CHS® exam. Students will still need to complete the time in position requirement before obtaining the CHS® designation.



In addition to partnering with DECA on industry certification programs for students, AHLEI also offers an extensive array of curriculum and professional development programs for students and teachers alike.

Schools can adopt AHLEI’s high school or post-secondary curriculum programs to further their students’ understanding of the hospitality industry. AHLEI programs are developed with direct industry input, while offering students a chance to earn multiple credentials along the way.

Instructors can also participate in professional development programs through AHLEI’s Certified Hospitality Instructor (CHI) and Certified Hospitality Educator (CHE®) programs.

Students are encouraged to apply for one of AH&LA’s Educational Foundation scholarships at to further enhance their education in hospitality programs at the collegiate level.

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How Employees Can Engage with DECA

DECA has many opportunities for organizations and their employees to engage with DECA. From volunteering as a classroom speaker, mentor or judge, to representing your company by exhibiting to advertising in publications, there are countless opportunities to engage with DECA and its membership.