Why and How to List Certifications on a Resume – Guide w/ Examples

February 4
5 min read

Looking to include certifications on your resume, but not sure how?

We don’t blame you - it’s not as simple as it seems.

For example, if your certifications are job-critical, it’s essential to include them on top of your resume in the summary or contact information section, or you risk the recruiter just skipping over your resume.

Or, if they’re not, you need to create a dedicated section for all your important certifications (and NOT clutter your other sections).

And in this group, we’re going to teach you how to do all that!

Read on to learn:

  • Why certifications deserve a place in your resume
  • How to list them properly so that they stand out
  • How to choose what certifications to include in your resume

So Why Certifications?

A certification is a document that proves you have specific expertise and is issued by an authorized organization. 

Earning such a document shows that you’re devoted to your field of work and provides evidence of your skills. Adding a professional certification to your resume is proof that you have the competence to do something. And for some positions, it is exactly this proof that could tilt the balance in your favor.

Even if the certification is not job-critical, it can certainly boost your resume, draw attention to your application, and present you as a valuable hire.

How to List Certifications on a Resume

The easiest and most common way to include your certifications is to just add a new section dedicated to them.

First, create a heading on your CV named “Certifications,” and create entries underneath.

Then, under your designated subheading, list each certification in reverse-chronological order. Meaning, you start with the most recent certificate and make your way from there.

certifications on resume

For each resume certification entry, include the following information:

  • Name of Certification
  • Name of Certifying Agency or Body
  • Dates of Obtainment
  • Location (If the certification is location-specific)
  • Expiration date (If applicable; of course, don’t list certifications on a resume that have expired)
  • In Progress (If applicable, just add it in the description with the anticipated finishing date)

Or, to give you real examples:

Correct Examples:

  • Google Doubleclick for Publishers (DFP) Certificate, Google Publisher University, 2018
  • Board Certification by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS), 2017

Incorrect Examples:

  • Publisher University Certificate
  • DFP Certification
  • Board Certified in Plastic Surgery
  • ABPS Certification

Other than the designated section, you can also mention your certifications on other attention-grabbing sections of your resume, including:

  • Resume Summary
  • Contact Information
  • Education Section

How to List Certifications on Your Resume Summary

If you have a very job-critical certification, you can also include it in your resume summary section.

For example, if you're an accountant w/ a CPA, you mention it in your summary as follows:

Just add one line and you're already one step ahead! You don't even need to rework your existing summary, just start or end the sentence with the certification’s title.

For example:

Correct Example

  • Certified CPR sports teacher with 15+ years of experience and solid organizational skills, seeking to preserve and improve the quality of sports education at Amigos Children's Academy. At Jefferson Elementary, raised sports team national results by 12% and led an exhibition team at the 2019 World Aquatics Championships. Trained more than 400 children for the school's official sports teams.

Incorrect Example

  • Certified teacher with 15+ years of experience working in Jefferson Elementary. Seeking to preserve and improve the quality of sports education at Amigos Children's Academy.
  • Data analyst with 7+ years of experience analyzing business processes. Enthusiastic to handle big data interpreting and visualizing skills at 7EDGE. CCA certificated in 2013.

Not sure what kind of job-critical certifications you should mention in your resume summary?

Here are some essentials for different industries:

Business

  • Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP)
  • APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP)

IT

  • Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

Healthcare

  • Certified Patient Care Technician (CPCT)
  • Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA)

Law

  • Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM)
  • Certified Legal Manager (CLM)

Economics

  • Certified Business Economist (CBE)
  • Certified Economic Developer (CED)

How to List Certifications on Your Contact Information Section

You can also include your certifications with your name in the contact information section, as such:

How to List Certifications on Your Education Section

Finally, you can also include your certifications in your resume education section.

You do this if:

  • You only have one certification (and it’s not job-critical)
  • You took your certification courses throughout your university career
  • Your want to listless important certifications outside your designated section

Correct Example

Healthcare School of Hawaii, Aiea, HI

Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) 2017

Learned to assist healthcare providers with medical procedures while obtaining vital signs per protocol, feeding and bathing patients, and dressing wounds.

Resume Certifications FAQ

Still have some questions? You’ll find your answers in this section!

Q: Should I list online course certifications on my resume?

A: Yep! As long as the certifications are relevant for the job, you can include them on your resume.

Online certifications can especially help you if you’re a recent graduate with not a lot of work experience.

Q: Is there a situation when I DON’T list my certifications on my resume?

A: Yep - you should only add certifications that add value to your resume.

If you’re a business analyst, for example, a Certification of Competency in Business Analysis (CCBA) WILL help get you hired.

A bartending or CPR certification, though, won’t.

You also shouldn’t add certifications that are outdated for obvious reasons, and the ones that are just not that significant.

For example, if you’re a business analyst with 10+ years of experience, you shouldn’t include your business management certificate you got from some online course some time in college.

So, to sum it up, you can skip certifications that are:

  • Outdated
  • Irrelevant
  • Insignificant

Q: What other sections can I list on my resume?

A: You can add a lot of interesting optional sections to make your resume shine even brighter.

  • Awards, Honors, Accomplishments
  • Volunteering and Associations
  • Independent Projects, Extracurricular Activities
  • Hobbies, Interests, Languages
  • Publications, Training, Conferences

Make sure, though, not to over-clutter your resume.

Look at it from the recruiter’s point of view - which of these sections would add value to you as a candidate, and show that you can do the job right?

Add those!

Key Takeaways

Now, let’s sum up everything we’ve learned about certifications in your resume:

  • Adding a professional certification to your resume is proof that you have the competence to do something.
  • Put job-critical resume certifications in four places: 1. By your name. 2. In your summary. 3. In your education section. 4. In a designated certification section.
  • Always make your prestigious certifications visible and attention-grabbing
  • Don't include certifications that are outdated, irrelevant, or insignificant.

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