Virginia Tech is tapping into Southwest Virginia’s growing craft beer industry by collaborating with the University of Richmond to offer a Beer Brewer Professional Certificate.

The yearlong noncredit program – a collaboration between the Virginia Tech Center for Organizational and Technological Advancement and the University of Richmond School of Professional and Continuing Studies – will guide students through the craft brewing business, including selecting high-quality ingredients, brewing, packaging, and distribution. The program will highlight local, sustainable practices by partnering with Virginia suppliers, breweries, and distributors.

“When students complete the program, they are prepared to enter the craft brewing industry in a variety of roles,” said Robyn Smith, program manager for Virginia Tech. “The goal is to give them the skills to make them more marketable or to open opportunities for advancement.”

The certificate program will build on the success of Virginia Tech’s Business of Brewing program, which helps participants turn a passion for brewing into a successful business. Brewery owners and managers who participated in the program stressed the need for quality professional training in Southwest Virginia.

The Beer Brewer Professional Certificate is approved by the U.S. Department of Labor and Industry as related technical instruction for the registered apprenticeship program. A registered apprentice who successfully completes the program receives a journeyworker’s completion certificate – a national credential recognized throughout the United States and, in some cases, internationally. The joint program is also a part of the Brewers Association Beverage Educator Summit and Roundtable, an initiative by the Brewers Association oriented toward small and independent craft breweries.

The University of Richmond began offering a Beer Brewer Professional Certificate in 2016. Bobby Faithful, program specialist with the University of Richmond, said, “Virginia Tech’s statewide footprint helps the University of Richmond expand our certificate program. We hope to help sustain the brewing economy and stimulate the growth of brewing in Virginia.”

The program, which costs $2,499, will begin Nov. 12 . Classes will be held at the Virginia Tech Roanoke Center and partnering breweries. Applications and a required essay submission will open in June at, with enrollment capped at 20 students. Plans call for the program to expand to the National Capital Region in 2020.

The Center for Organizational and Technological Advancement is part of Outreach and International Affairs.

For more information, visit or contact Robyn Smyth at or (540) 767-6096. 

Written by Leigh Anne Stover

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