How to List Certifications on a Resume Certifications, Licenses, Training, and Online Courses. What’s the Difference? Adding Certifications to a Resume. Is It Important? What Are the Best Certifications for a Resume? How To Put Certifications on a Resume Where to Put Certifications on a Resume With Samples Conclusions
How to List Certifications on a Resume Certifications, Licenses, Training, and Online Courses. What’s the Difference? Adding Certifications to a Resume. Is It Important? What Are the Best Certifications for a Resume? How To Put Certifications on a Resume Where to Put Certifications on a Resume With Samples Conclusions

How to List Certifications on a Resume

Putting certifications on your resume is crucial, but it has its peculiarities. Continue reading this article to find out the best ways to add them.

Putting certifications on your resume is crucial, but it has its peculiarities. Continue reading this article to find out the best ways to add them.

Getting your skills and knowledge certified can show your commitment and dedication to the profession. It means that you are willing to invest time, effort, and money into your development. However, you need to know how to add certifications to a resume correctly for your job application to catch the recruiter’s eye and win you an interview invitation.

If you are confused about how to include certifications in a resume, we will share some of the best tips on how to display them and even provide you with some examples.

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01

Certifications, Licenses, Training, and Online Courses. What’s the Difference?

Before adding some of them to your resume, you should understand the differences between these concepts and their value.

Certification

Certification is a document that confirms your particular skill or certain experience level. Only accredited associations and national, state, or local professional boards can issue them. Professional certifications cannot replace college or university degrees. However, they can complement your education or experience.

You will have to pass written and skill-based tests to earn certifications.

License

Licenses are similar to certifications but usually issued by federal, state, or local authorities. Special licenses are required if a candidate wants to work in healthcare, public education, law, or finance.

Training

Training is a learning method aimed at developing knowledge and skills. Usually, these are short-term educational sessions conducted by coaches or experts in specific industries. They are not as fundamental as certifications and licenses, but they can still be useful tools to expand your knowledge.

Online courses

Online courses allow you to choose a convenient time and place for learning. They are provided by specialized online learning platforms such as Udemy, Coursera, edX, etc. or companies like Google, Microsoft, Oracle, etc. You can also earn certificates, although their value varies depending on the organization providing the online course.

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02

Adding Certifications to a Resume. Is It Important?

Certifications, licenses, and other certificates have many benefits and are worthy of being included in a resume. However, only if they are relevant to the position to which you are applying. For example, adding a certificate from acting classes on your resume is not the best idea when applying for an IT consultant position.

Another “only” is that a real and recognized organization should issue your certification. In this case, it will have value. Remember that a certificate you received after completing some online course on a questionable platform may not present you professionally.

And the last “only,” do not put certifications on your resume you do not have. It may attract the recruiter's attention, but your lies will be revealed when asked to show a document proving it. Don’t forget that trust is hard to earn.

If you confidently pass these three “only’s,” but are still hesitant about whether or not to include certifications into your resume, here are five clear-cut reasons for you to do it.

1. Professional credibility

Certificates not only serve as a tool to prove your skills and knowledge, but they can also increase your professional weight. Some companies prefer certified employees since they want their clients to trust them and the quality of their services.

2. Chance to prove yourself

Imagine that your degree does not meet the employer’s educational requirements. For example, you are a recent graduate of the Faculty of Education, but you want to change your career path and become a journalist. Relevant certification mentioned in your resume may be critical and can win you an interview invitation.

3. Opportunity to stand out

Certificates may convince a recruiter that you can do a better job than others because you have additional knowledge and skills. For instance, if you apply for a technical writer position, your Microsoft Office Word 2016 Core certificate may play an important role on your resume. Why? For two reasons. First, it will show that you can easily use this program when performing your duties. Second, it will assure the recruiter that you can boost your typing speed. Thus, you can do your job quicker than other candidates.

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4. Higher quality of an interview

Professional certifications on your resume is an excellent opportunity to take your interview to another level. It invites conversation. You can explain why you took some courses and continued your education, what you learned, and what you can do now that you could not do before. Answers to such questions can make your candidacy unique.

5. Better ATS results

Recruiters often use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to check resumes, filter out candidates, and choose the best one. Thus, it’s crucial to have an optimized resume and include essential information about you. A list of certifications is one of those things.

03

What Are the Best Certifications for a Resume?

To answer this question, you need to understand what types of resume certifications exist. We’ve done some research and made a general list to help you when putting this information on your application paper.

Required Certifications

Some professions require candidates to have specific licenses or certifications. These are mainly legal professionals, healthcare practitioners, financial workers, or educators. If applying for positions in these industries, licenses and certifications should be an integral part of your resume.

Recommended Certifications

Sometimes, hiring managers use certifications as a resume filter to select applicants, since certifications may show the recruiter that they have relevant qualifications for the position.

If you check the job listing or the company’s website, you may find a list of some preferable certifications. If you have some of them, don’t hesitate to mention them in your resume. It’s an effective way to stand out, especially for entry-level candidates or students.

Sometimes the same certification can be required/recommended for different industries. For example, medical professionals and educators need to know how to do cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Thus, they need to put CPR certification on a resume. However, while for medical professionals, it is required, for educators, it is recommended.

Optional Certifications

Including optional, but relevant and credible certificates can improve your chances of being invited for an interview. This category may include certifications you earn after completing online courses or specific training.

Important!
If you are planning your career, think about the relevant certifications you can get for your job. Here are some examples of credible ones you can earn and list on your resume:
CertificationIndustry
Certified Public Accountant (CPA)Finances, accounting
Professional Engineering Manager Certification (PEM)Engineering
ServSafeHospitality
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Health and safety for multiple industries
Registered Nurse (RN)Medicine
Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)Business, Logistics
Project Management Professional Certification (PMP)Business, management
Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL)Education
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04

How To Put Certifications on a Resume

If you want your application to stand out and portray you as an organized person, it should be well-structured. Like every resume section, your certification list needs a proper format, and here is our four-step guide on how to put a certification on a resume.

1. Certification title

Write the full title of the certification. You should check if the name is typed correctly and spell out any abbreviations if your recruiter or potential employer doesn’t know them. But if such abbreviations are commonly used and understood in the industry, it’s okay to put them.

For example:

Certified Public Accountant (CPA),
Project Management Professional (PMP),
Accredited Legal Professional (ALP),
Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA)

2. Name of the organization that issued the certification

To look professional, you should write the name of the institution that issued your certification. Make sure to proofread it to avoid mistakes. You may also want to put a link to the organization’s website to make the recruiter’s research easier.

For example:

The International Association for Six Sigma Certification (IASSC)
The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board (AANPCB)
The National Association of Social Workers (NASW)

3. Date of completion

One reason to mention the certification’s completion date is to help the hiring manager understand how much time has passed since you completed the course and took your exam to earn the certificate. If you are still in progress, you should write the anticipated completion date.

Remember that some certifications require renewal. Thus, you should put the most recent renewal date.

For example:

Completed on August 27, 2020
August 2020

Or

Expected date of completion: August 27, 2020

Important!
You should not list expired certifications on your resume. Renew them before putting them into your application document.

4. Associated skills

Usually, the resume should not be too long. But if you have some space, you can include a shortlist of skills related to the certification. However, check if they are relevant to the position to which you are applying.

For example:

Relevant skills: financial analysis

Or

Relevant skill: emergency management

Or

Relevant skill: CPR

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05

Where to Put Certifications on a Resume With Samples

There are several sections on your resume where your certifications can play the best role, given their relevance and importance.

1. Contact information section

This section includes the applicant’s name, address, phone number, and email. Highlighting your certifications in this section works well if the position you are applying to requires them.

For example:

Mike Rust, PMP
Phone: 111-111-1111
Email: mikerust@email.com

Or

Amy Smith, Accredited Legal Professional (ALP)
Phone: 111-111-1111
Email: amysmith@email.com

Moreover, an additional option is to include some certifications as part of your email username to attract the recruiter’s attention and demonstrate your professional attitude. This approach works better with abbreviations like CPA, PMP, CNA, etc.

For example:

mikerustPMP@email.com
amysmithALP@email.com

2. Resume summary or career objective

This section of the resume allows candidates to tell the recruiter about relevant skills, experience, and the value they can add to the company. Your most essential certifications can be mentioned in the resume summary to highlight your eligibility or expertise for the position. However, the resume summary should contain no more than two or three sentences, so think about how you can briefly express your thoughts.

For example:

A Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA) with five years of experience in the children’s hospital, looking for a career transition to Chief Nurse. In-depth medical knowledge, excellent time management, and communication skills.

Or

Motivated project manager with six years of experience in managing IT projects and strong leadership skills. Holds PMP certification.

Most recruiters only take a quick look at your resume before making their decision to invite you for an interview. Medium calls it a 6-second scan of the resume. It means that you need to place the most critical information about yourself at the beginning of your application document to be within these 6 seconds. The resume summary section is the most suitable for this.

3. Work experience section

Here you list your employment history and job responsibilities. If the certification represents your title in the organization, you can mention it here.

For example:

Children's Hospital Los Angeles, CA
Certified Nurse Assistant, September 2015 – Present
Performed initial screening of patients
Helped physicians with measuring heartbeats and pulse rates
Provided high-quality medical care to patients

Remember one of the main rules for how to list certifications on a resume: use reverse chronological order!

4. Education section

The resume education section is one of the most suitable places to put your certifications. You can start with the latest one and list them along with your educational degrees.

If you want to put certifications in your education section, we recommend modifying its title to “Education and Certifications” or “Education and Other Credentials.”

For example:

The Hospitality Training Academy (HTA), Los Angeles, CA
ServSafe Food Handler Certification 2020
Learned customer service in food and beverage establishments, including Los Angeles International Airport, hotels, restaurants, event venues

California State University, Los Angeles, CA
2015 -2017, BA in English.

5. Certifications section

Another option is listing your certifications under a separate section called “Certifications,” “Certifications and Licences,” or “Certifications and Training.” Relevant and credible certifications in this section can attract the recruiter’s attention. You can write them above or below your education, or at the end of your resume. And remember that your certifications should be listed from the most recent to the earliest one.

Follow our recommendations, and you will be able to present your certificates in a structured and well-organized way. Still, for better visual perception, we advise that you check certifications on resume samples. Additionally, to better understand how your resume should look and be formatted, you can check resume templates. It will help you choose the best design for your application. After all, the visual component is no less critical than the informational one.

06

Conclusions

Courses and certificates related to your job can be a significant advantage if included in your resume. They show that you are striving for self-improvement and professional development. Such an attitude is valuable for many professions. Moreover, additional education can be a perfect explanation for an employment gap in your career. But remember that professional certifications from accredited organizations are more valuable than those issued by regular educational platforms.

Now that you know how to show certifications on your resume, you can use them as one of your tickets to success. We hope that your application will get an additional boost, and recruiters will notice you and invite you for an interview where you can prove yourself the best candidate.

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