How to List Certifications on a Resume | Examples and Tips

Oct 25, 2017

Written by Caitlin Proctor

Written by Caitlin Proctor

Career Expert, ZipJob

An average of 250 resumes are sent for a single opening. See how Zipjob uses professional writers and technology to get your resume noticed.

Including 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 a resume to ensure you stand out.

Most employers also use an ATS (Applicant Tracking System) to screen resumes to determine if you’re qualified for the position. One of the main things they will be looking for is required certifications. We’ll also show you some tips to ensure that the ATS understands that you possess these certifications.

(Check out this great post on free certifications you can add to your resume)

Where to Include Certifications on a Resume

If the certification is a requirement for the position, then you want to either list it next to your name in the 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 certification next to a name:

Certification next to name in resume

You could also list your certification in the title of your resume. Utilizing a resume title is very effective for any resume and 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:

 Certification in title of resume

Which Certifications Should You Include on a Resume?

You should of course include any required or relevant certifications on your resume. Some may have additional secondary certifications that are not really relevant to the position.

For example, if you have CPR certification and you’re applying for an accounting position –  it’s not relevant and would probably be better left off your resume.

How to put 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 (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:

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 Lynda 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. You could list the certification in progress with something along the lines of:

  • Anticipated Completion May 2018
  • Expected May 2018
  • In Progress
  • To be Completed

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, certifications etc. If it feels you’re qualified for the position, it sends your resume forward to a hiring manager for review.

Around 75% of resumes are rejected by these systems, and many times it’s because the resume isn’t optimized.

(You can see how your resume does in an actual ATS scan with our Free Resume Review).

To ensure the ATS picks up on your certifications, you need to keep these two tips in mind:

  1. If it’s a certification that’s required for the position, list it towards the header with either your name or resume title.
  2. You should write out an abbreviation as an ATS might not understand them all. 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: CPA (Certified Public Accountant).

Adding Certifications on 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. Don’t include any licences or certifications that are expired or suspended. 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!

An average of 250 resumes are sent for a single opening. See how Zipjob uses professional writers and technology to get your resume noticed.

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