You have likely heard of a sommelier, a wine steward who is a trained and knowledgeable wine professional who typically works in fine restaurants and specializes in all aspects of wine. Well there is such a thing for beer too, commonly referred to as a cicerone even though the term is a trademarked organization rather than a general term. That is just good marketing much like the confusion Kleenex and Xerox enjoy, but that is another topic. Although not nearly as popular as the wine sommelier, the profession is growing likely due to the growth in the beer industry in general and trends suggest it will continue to grow and be in demand. The Cicerone certification program, as of 2008 had anointed 4 Master Cicerones, 400 Certified Cicerones, and more than 1,400 Certified Beer Servers. Some great resources on the topic can be found at The Beer Sommelier http://www.thebeerexpert.com/beer_sommelier.shtml and Cicerone Certification Program https://cicerone.org/
According to the Cicerone certification program there are three categories of certification; Certified Beer Server, Certified Cicerone, and Master Cicerone. The Certified Beer Server is the first level of certification and anyone can apply. The Certified Cicerone is the second level of certification and candidates must have passed the Beer Server certification first. This certification shows that those who achieve this level have a well-rounded knowledge of beer and beer service as well as being competent in assessing beer quality and identity by taste. Lastly, the Master Cicerone can only be achieved by those who have passed the Certified Cicerone test, have a minimum of two years selling, serving, or managing beer service. Three recommendations from different brewers, beer wholesalers, or beer retailers can be substituted for the work experience. A Master Cicerone has an encyclopedic knowledge of beer and a highly refined tasting ability.
Tests and courses for these certifications range from $69 to more than $650 and a lot of time, study, and recommended travel to famous beer regions world wide. Although there is a significant amount of time and money investment in acquiring any of these certifications I would certainly recommend it as a great way to stand out in a crowded beer industry.