How to List Certifications on a Resume: Guide (+20 Examples)

Natalie Severt
Resume Expert at Zety
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Certifications on a resume. Do I need them? Consider:

 

Contact information? Check.

 

Experience section? Check.

 

Education section? Check.

 

You’ve even written a spectacular resume summary. So, that’s everything. Right?

 

Not quite. 

 

At this point, you might want to consider adding extra sections to your resume. But how do you decide what’s worth it?

 

Should you add your hobbies and interests? That’s a great idea!

 

But listing certifications on a resume is the number one way to attract hiring managers. Because certifications prove that you’re a relevant and valuable hire. 

 

But what if you don’t have certifications?

 

What if your resume certification section is overflowing?

 

How do you even put certifications on a resume? 

 

Well, this article will tell you:

 

  • How to find online certifications that look good on a resume. 
  • How to add certifications on a resume with examples.
  • Little-known tips on where to put certifications on a resume.

 

Want to save time and have your resume ready in 5 minutes? Try our resume builder. It’s fast and easy to use. Plus, you'll get tips and right vs. wrong examples on how to list certifications and all the other resume sections. See 20+ resume templates and create your resume here.

 How to List Certifications on a Resume the right way

How to add certifications on a resume the right way - See more templates and create your resume here.

 

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1

Online Courses VS. Certifications on a Resume 

 

What is a professional certification?

 

A professional certification is proof that you have the knowledge and skills to do something. To get that proof, a person often has to pass a test or course. 

 

The authority to grant certifications belongs to third-parties. These include organizations like universities or industry societies.

 

right

CPR, The American Red Cross

wrong

Excellent Customer Service Representative Certificate, Company XYZ

 

Don't confuse professional certifications with honors and awards. 

 

Also, don't confuse training and certification. Sometimes training results in certification, but not always.

 

And the hardest one:

 

Don't confuse certification and an online course.

 

What is the difference between an online course and an online certification course?

 

Online courses are like university classes. You can learn everything from psychology to physics. And finishing classes can get you credit the same as at a university.

 

Adding to your education is great. The catch? 

 

Online classes don’t always translate to skills and certifications.

 

All you have to do is make sure the certification program is not only a class and that it’s coming from the proper authority.

 

Let's say you need easy resume certifications - not more college credit. 

 

In that case, taking an online course titled “Postmodernist Literature” is not going to cut it. Even if you get a certificate when you’re done.

 

That's why you have to be careful what kind of courses you take online.

 

right

A+ Certification

wrong

Psychology 101 

 

When can you put free online certifications on a resume?

 

You can put free online certifications on a resume when they are relevant to the job for which you’re applying. Don’t see them listed in the job ad? That’s okay. Add them anyway.

 

Here’s a list of useful certifications for a resume that can boost your career:

 

  • A+ Certification (IT Certification)
  • ServSafe (Gastronomy)
  • OSHA Certification (Multi-industry / Health & Safety)
  • FEMA Certification (Multi-industry / Emergency Management)
  • Hubspot Inbound Marketing Certification Course (Marketing)
  • Language or ESL Certifications (General or Education)
  • Project Management Professional (PMP) (Project Management)
  • Public Notary (General)
  • Six Sigma Belts (Business)
  • ISSA Personal Trainer Certification (Personal Trainer)
  • Safety and Chemical Engineering Education (SAChE) Certification (Chemical Engineer) 

 

Almost every profession has certifications you can get. Whether you work for McDonald’s or Google, resume certifications go a long way to prove you’ve got skills and knowledge. 

 

And don’t forget the many resume certifications that you can get offline. Good examples are CPR certification or Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) Certification.

 

Feel like there's just too much to keep in mind when writing your resume? We've got you covered. Get our free checklist and make sure you always submit a perfect resume that gets you the job: 46 Things You Need To Do Before You Send Your Resume

 

Pro Tip: Is MOS certification worth it? What about Lynda or Udemy certificates? How do you know which certifications to add to a resume? Relevant certifications are always worth it. Read your job ad. Which skills and certifications are listed? See a skill a quick Lynda certificate could boost? Worth it. 

 

Did you know that adding hobbies and interests to your resume can help you land the job? Find out how. Read our guide: +20 Best Examples of Hobbies & Interests to Put on a Resume (5 Tips)

 

2

How to List Certifications on a Resume

 

Let’s say you have a lot of certifications. 

 

That’s when you need to dedicate a section for relevant certifications on a resume.

 

Title the section, “Certifications.” If you have licenses as well, you can title the section, “Licenses and Certifications.” It's more than okay to add both to one section.

 

Under your subheading, list each certification in reverse-chronological order. Start with your most recent.

 

Let’s say that your most recent certification is not impressive. You got your impressive certifications early on in your career. In that case, leave the lesser certifications for other sections. Put your prestigious certifications front and center.

 

Lesser certifications can go in your education section. You can also create an extra section titled “Training” or "Accomplishments." 

 

You’ll want to add:

 

  • Name of Certification
  • Name of Certifying Agency or Body 
  • Dates of Obtainment 
  • Location (If Applicable) 

 

The location is only important if the certification is state specific. Good examples are teaching and nursing licenses and certifications.

 

If your certification has an expiration date, you’ll need to add that as well. Don’t list certifications on a resume that have expired. Is your certification in progress? Then add the anticipated finishing date.

 

right

Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification, Project Management Institute, 2013

wrong
PMP

 

Should you put every cool certification on a resume if you have it?

 

Let’s say you’re a certified lifeguard. Cool. 

 

You’re also CPR certified, and ServSafe certified from that time you worked at McDonald’s in high school. These are not the easiest certifications to get. Congratulations.

 

But now you’re writing an Administrative Assistant, Accountant, or Ballerina resume. Should you put all your other certifications on the resume? No.

 

ServSafe isn’t going to boost your ballerina resume.

 

Only include certifications that are relevant to the job for which you're applying. Always add certifications that you find listed in the job ad. 

 

Where do certifications go on a resume?

 

Well, that depends on how important the certification is for your job. 

 

Let's say you can’t do the job without the certification. In that case, certifications can go before your education and after your experience. 

 

The thing not to do is to add your certifications as an afterthought to the end of your resume. Put prestigious, relevant certifications on a resume front and center.

 

Pro Tip: Be sure to write out acronyms at least once. Don’t only write “PMP Certification.” Check the job ad. See acronyms? Yes? Then you only need to write each acronym out once. The point? It helps Applicant Tracking System (ATS) software read your resume as well as humans.

 

Want to know more about ATS and how to tailor your resume to land your dream job? Read our guide: “6 Tips on How to Tailor Your Resume to a Job Description (Examples)

 

Our resume builder (you can create your resume here) will give you tips and examples on how to list certifications on your resume. You can easily copy them straight into your resume - it will save you a ton of time.

 listing certifications on your resume tips and examples

Inside the Zety resume builder, you will find tips and examples for certifications on your resume.

 

3

Here’s How to Mention Certifications on a Resume Right Away

 

Have prestigious, professional certifications? Time to make sure they're the first thing the hiring manager sees. To do that, you’ll need to add your certifications to your resume more than once. 

 

Let’s say you’re a professional who is unable to do your job without certifications and licenses. Examples are teachers, truck drivers, nurses, and public accountants.

 

In that case, you’ll want to put your certifications at the top of your resume next to your name.

 

Where to Place Certifications on a Resume - The Contact Information Section

 

Let’s say you’re a registered nurse or a public accountant. You must have certificates and licenses. That means it’s best to put these credentials in your contact information section next to your name. 

 

For example:

 

Alexandra Rothschild, RN

 

Gary Nowak, CPA

 

If you want to get really fancy, you can add them to your email address.

 

right

garynowak.CPA@gmail.com

wrong

gary.nowak@hotmail.com

 

Where to Place Certifications on a Resume -   The Resume Summary or Objective

 

Let’s say you’re a professional with one important certification. That certification is also listed in the job offer as a necessary qualification for the role. 

 

In that case, it’s important to draw attention to your certification on your resume right away. You can do that by adding one line in your resume summary or resume objective.

 

right

Charming Bartender with 5+ years of experience working as a high-end nightclub bartender in major metropolitan areas. Excellent memory and relationship building skills resulting in a 10% increase in up selling for all regulars. Have a Bartending Certificate valid in most states.

wrong

Certified Bartender with 5+ years of experience working in nightclubs. Seeking to leverage skills for Bartending job at the KittyKat Lounge.

  

Where to Place Certifications on a Resume -   The Education Section

 

Let’s say you took your certification courses through your university. 

 

Or you got certified for your profession after attending high school or college.

 

You only have the one certificate. In that case, you can add your most recent certification to your education section.

 

right

New York Bartending School, New York, NY

Bartending Certification 2011

Learned bar set-up, classic drink recipes, wine knowledge, and service.

 

Ohio State University, Columbus, OH

2005 -2007 Completed 60 credits toward a BA in English. 

wrong

Ohio State University, Columbus, OH

2005 -2007 Completed 60 credits toward a BA in English. 

 

New York Bartending School, New York, NY

Bartending Certification 2011

 

Always list certifications on a resume in reverse-chronological order. Even if you went to an Ivy League school, put your certification first if it was more recent.  

 

Pro Tip: Is your certification in progress? You’ll need to put the expected date of completion. For example, “Bartending Certification, Anticipated Completion 2018.”

 

Still not sure about listing certifications on a resume? Want to know what else you can put on your resume? Read our guide: “What to Put on a Resume to Make It Perfect [Tips & Examples]

 

Key Takeaway

 

Remember these points:

 

  • When you’re looking for something extra to spice up your resume, certifications are the thing. The good news is that there are all kinds of things to get certified in. 
  • The extra good news is that listing great certifications on a resume isn’t hard. You just have to know which job certification programs are best and how to include certifications on a resume.
  • The key is getting your professional certifications front and center. That way, hiring managers know right away that you’re a relevant and valuable hire.

 

Once they can see that you’ve got all the right qualifications, you’re on track to landing that interview. 

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Author
Natalie Severt
Natalie is a writer at Zety. She loves writing about resumes and eating tacos more than life itself. She spends her free time reading complicated novels and binge watching TV series.