Including your certifications on a resume is a good way to catch the attention of a hiring manager. It's also necessary for certain positions and industries. Your resume needs to tell the employer that you're both qualified for the position and the perfect fit for the position. We'll show you how to list certifications on your resume, with some examples and tips, to ensure you stand out.
What kind of certifications should you add to your resume?
Not all certifications belong on a resume. Every item on your resume should be relevant to the position you are applying for, so if a certification doesn’t fit into that mold, it should probably be left off.
Certifications are also very industry-specific. For example, in the food service industry, it might be relevant to include your food handler permit, driver’s license, and alcohol serving license. But those certifications would be irrelevant if you were applying for a position as a data analyst.
Here are some common certifications for different industries that are good to include on your resume.
The medical field is widespread and embodies hundreds of different positions, each requiring a different set of certifications. These are some common certifications that are crucial to have on your resume if they apply to you.
Board Certification in a Medical Specialty
Basic Life Support (BLS)
Registered Nurse License (RN)
Medical Laboratory Technician (MLT) or Medical Laboratory Scientist (MLS)
Medical Specialty Therapist License
Every school district in the country has its own governance that determines what annual certifications are required for staff. Some of these certifications and training will vary depending on the position and whether they are student-facing or not. If you work in education, check in with your administrators about what kind of certifications are required of you.
Continuing Education Units (CEUs)
Professional Development Hours (PDHs)
Technology integration training certificate
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Student engagement training
Information technologies (IT)
Because IT professionals are entrusted with sensitive material, it’ll be important for you to show all the steps you’ve taken to become certified in security. You also have to show all the different skills you have by displaying the various applications and programs you are trained in. It’s common for IT workers to have long lists of certifications.
Vendor-specific certifications (Microsoft, Cisco, AWS, Google, etc.)
CompTIA certifications (A+, Network+, Security+, etc.)
Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
Certified Information Security Professional (CISP)
Cloud certifications (AWS, Microsoft, Google)
DevOps Foundation and DevOps Professional
Trades make up a huge section of the workforce, but they can be underrepresented in career advice because they work differently than other industries. Even though the trades are less standardized, you can still add value to your resume by including certifications you’ve obtained for the job.
Apprenticeship programs and how many hours you completed
Trade associations and organizations
Construction code and regulation compliance
Specialty training programs (sustainable design, green building practices, etc.)
Tool risk and safety hazard training, including OSHA certifications
Where to include certifications on your resume
If the certification is a requirement for the position, then you want to either list it next to your name in the resume header or in your resume title. A hiring manager only looks at a resume for a few seconds, so you need to quickly show that you’re qualified for the position.
Here is an example of a professional certification next to a name:
You could also list your certification in the title of your resume. Utilizing a resume title is very effective for any resume. We wrote a good post on writing a resume title and header here.
Here is an example of listing your certification in a resume title:
How to write certifications and licenses on a resume
If you have one certification or license that’s required or relevant to the position, you can list it either next to your name or in the title, as we showed you above. If you have numerous certifications you want to list, those could be included at the bottom of your resume.
Here are the possible headers you could use for the certifications section if you have other professional development to list:
Certifications (although it’s better to list alone if you have multiple certifications)
Professional Development & Certifications
Certifications & Affiliations
Education & Certifications
(We wrote a good post on including a professional development section on a resume here.)
Here is an example of certifications on a resume:
If you have any online certifications or courses you took, those would usually be mentioned towards the bottom of your resume. It is okay to list online certifications from sites like Udemy or LinkedIn Learning on your resume. It shows the hiring manager that you took the time to learn or touch up on a skill, and that will never get you disqualified. However, keep only highly relevant, required, or prestigious certifications at the top of your resume.
Including certifications in progress
You could also, of course, include any certifications in progress along with the anticipated completion date.
Use this technique as a strategy for being noticed by a recruiter, too. If you are changing careers or industries and feel slightly underqualified, including information about current certifications can help you stand out.
Your list of certifications in progress would look something like this:
ABC Certification | XYZ Company | Anticipated Completion MM/YYYY
DEF Training Course | LinkedIn Learning | Expected by MM/YYYY
123 Professional Development Workshop | Udemy | In Progress
Writing your current courses and certifications can also help your resume get noticed by automatic filtration systems called Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS).
Certifications and an ATS
The last thing we’re going to touch on is ensuring an ATS picks up on your certifications. An ATS is software used by most employers to automatically screen resumes. The ATS analyzes information such as work experience, education, and certifications. If it determines that you’re qualified for the position, it sends your resume forward to a hiring manager for review.
Most employers use an ATS to screen resumes to determine if you’re qualified for the position. One of the main things they will be looking for are the required certifications. Around 75% of resumes are rejected by applicant tracking systems, and many times it’s because the resume isn’t optimized.
To ensure the ATS picks up on your certifications, you need to keep these two tips in mind:
You should write out all abbreviations. Since you have no way of knowing which version of the keyword/phrase was programmed into the ATS, it’s best to err on the side of caution. It could also be that the ATS is programmed to search for the full name of the certification and not the abbreviation. You don’t need to spell out the abbreviation everywhere, but you should do it at least once. For example, Certified Public Accountant (CPA).
Be specific about the certification. Include the issuing company and year of completion. Also, be sure to include information relating to the specific skill or function you’re trained in. For example, which computer program you are trained in, rather than just showing the ability to work with the programs.
Relevancy is the key
Adding certifications to your resume the right way is important, especially if they’re required. If they are required or relevant, you should list them with either your name or title. For less crucial certifications, but those that are still encouraged to add, you can create a section towards the end of your resume that describes them. Don’t include any old or expired certifications or licenses. You may also want to leave off any certifications which aren’t relevant to the position you’re targeting.
Good luck with your job search!
Head to our website for a free review of your resume to make sure that you’ve properly listed your certifications on your resume. Click here!
Emma Elizabeth, Resume Writer, Emma Elizabeth, Resume Writer
Emma is a certified employment specialist with over 6 years of experience in career mentorship and employment training. With an affinity for technical writing, Emma is passionate about developing training, policy, and procedure manuals. In 2020 she helped design Colorado’s first state-certified training program for people with disabilities entering the workforce.