When you should list certifications on your resume
Certifications on your resume aren’t required, but there are three circumstances where listing them is either expected or could strengthen your resume.
1. An employer requires specific certifications
If a company requires certifications for a particular job, you have little to no chance of being hired unless you have those certifications and list them clearly on your resume.
In most cases, the job advertisement mentions what certification is essential, but you should also research the industry to check for other relevant licenses and certifications you can list.
Onetonline is a good place to look if you aren’t sure, and you can also explore other job postings in your target industry.
2. You want to showcase skills relevant to the job
If you have certifications that aren’t needed for the job (but could be helpful), include them to make your resume stand out. For example, you can list CPR and first aid certifications if you’re applying for a job where you’re frequently around customers.
3. You need to make up for a lack of work experience
If you’re looking for your first job in an industry and have no professional experience, listing the correct certification can help you get a foot in the door. If, for instance, you were trying to find your first job as a caterer, it would make your resume stronger to add food safety certifications.
How to list certifications on your resume
Every certification you list on your resume requires the following information:
- Name of the certification
- Name of the organization that awarded it
- Date earned
- If completed in person, the location (city, state)
- If completed online, just write “Online Course”
You can also include certifications that you’re currently working on by adding “In Progress” next to the name of the certification, and including the date you’ll complete it:
- Name of the certification (in progress)
- Name of the organization that will award it
- Prospective date of completion
- If you’re completing it in person, the location (city, state)
- If you’re completing it online, just write “Online Course”
Where to put certifications on a resume
There are two different places where you can put certifications on your resume:
1. Certifications section
If you have numerous certifications that you want to showcase, list them in their own dedicated section using the header “Certifications.” This way, you ensure the reader sees them right away.
Where to put a certifications section
Where you put your certifications section depends on how important they are to the job you want.
If they’re required or highly important, put them near the top of your resume, above your experience section, like this:
If your certifications aren’t required or only slightly related to the job, you can place them toward the bottom of your resume, beneath your education section, like this:
2. Skills section
Alternatively, if you need to save space and only have one or two certifications, simply change the title of the skills section of your resume to “Skills & Certifications” and list them there.
Here’s an example of what that looks like (which we produced using our resume builder):
Resume certification examples
By now you should have a clear idea of whether you need to include a certifications section, what to put in it, and where you should put it on your resume.
Meddic Sales Methodology Academy
Online course / 2019
SANDLER SALES, SILVER CERTIFIED
Jane Smith Enterprises LLC
New York, NY / 2018
SPIN SALES TRAINING
John Miller International
New York, NY / 2017
SHRM CERTIFIED PROFESSIONAL (in progress)
Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)
Chicago, IL / January 2021
PROFESSIONAL IN HUMAN RESOURCES (in progress)
Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI)
Chicago, IL / March 2021
PROJECT MANAGEMENT PROFESSIONAL (in progress)
Project Management Institute (PMI)
Online course / May 2021
12 popular resume certifications
If you don’t have many certifications to list on your resume, it’s not too late to earn some. There are actually plenty of certifications that you can get online which apply to a wide variety of jobs.
Plus, showing employers that you’ve taken the time to track down such certifications and complete them can help prove that you’re a proactive, motivated job seeker who would make a great employee.
1. CPR Training
The American Red Cross online CPR course teaches the skills to respond to cardiac and breathing emergencies. It covers how to perform CPR on adults, children and babies, along with other first aid techniques.
Length: approx. 2 hours 45 minutes
Best for: any job that involves working frequently with customers, particularly if it involves keeping people safe (e.g. baby-sitters, lifeguards, firefighters).
2. Workplace Hygiene and Illness Prevention
OSHAcademy’s workplace hygiene and illness prevention online course explains how to stay healthy in the workplace. It includes a section on how to prevent the spread of communicable diseases, such as COVID-19.
Cost: free, but a certificate costs from $15.99-$27.99.
Length: 1 hour
Best for: service industry employees, especially people who work in catering, cleaning and hospitality.
3. Fire Safety
Course For Fire Safety’s online fire safety course focuses on fire safety and prevention in the workplace, including fire prevention plans, potential hazards, safe evacuation, types of fires, and fire extinguishers.
Cost: from $25-$40, depending on length
Length: 1 hour / 3 hours / 5 hours
Best for: anyone who works in a designated workplace, as many employers are required to have an emergency fire action plan.
4. Diversity and Inclusion
Purdue University’s Understanding Diversity and Inclusion course allows students to develop their knowledge and understanding of diversity.
Cost: free (but a print and digital certificate and unlimited access costs $42)
Length: 3 weeks (3 hours a week)
Best for: anyone looking to improve their attitude, skills, and knowledge for effective work with different people.
5. Administrative Skills
Oxford Home Study’s Office Administration course teaches business admin skills and expertise.
Length: 20 hours
Best for: employees in any business environment.
6. Microsoft Excel
Microsoft’s Excel Associate course covers the fundamentals of creating and managing worksheets and workbooks. Courses are also available on the entire Microsoft Office range.
Length: 150 hours
Best for: office workers, and any employees who need basic IT competence
WP101’s introduction to WordPress is a beginner’s level course on how to create, customize and manage a WordPress site.
Cost: $49 a year (includes access to all of WordPress 101’s courses)
Length: 115 minutes
Best for: web developers and designers, IT workers, marketing employees, small business owners.
8. Google Ads
Google’s online Google Ads training provides a complete guide to using their online advertising platform.
Length: 2.6 hours-4.7 hours per course, 21 hours in total
Best for: marketing strategists, advertisers, account managers, small business owners.
9. Business Writing
Coursera’s Business Writing course is a beginner level course designed to help students apply the ten principles of good business writing to their work, and to improve their writing and communication skills.
Cost: free (currently)
Length: approx. 11 hours
Best for: report writers, office workers, content writers, copywriters.
10. Ethical Workplace Conduct
LRN’s Ethical Workplace Conduct course explains how to behave ethically in the workplace. It covers issues such as fraud, conflicts of interest, business ethics, how to deal with gifts and entertainment, and how to speak up.
Cost: free with a 7-day trial
Length: 20-25 minutes
Best for: employees of any business that has financial dealings with customers and other companies.
11. Telephone Skills and Customer Service
The Universal Telephone Skills and Quality Customer Service class provides training in how to present a knowledgeable and professional image on the phone.
Cost: $75 with a certificate, $50 without
Length: 12 hours over 13 lessons
Best for: salespeople, call center employees, customer service employees.
12. Fact Checking
Udemy’s Fact Checking Made Easy course is a basic guide to avoiding and correcting factual errors and inconsistencies.
Length: 1.5 hours
Best for: writers, publishers, journalists, researchers.