A professional certificate on your resume emphasizes to potential employers the work you have done to acquire in-demand skills. As a result, highlighting your professional certificates on your resume can be a good way to demonstrate how prepared you are for your next job.
In this article, you will learn how to put certificates on your resume, where else they should go on your application materials, and why you might want to consider getting a professional certificate to meet your career goals.
Your certifications can have a big impact on your job search. In this section, you will learn the tangible benefits of having a certification on your resume and when to highlight them.
Certification can potentially increase your pay and improve your chances of being employed.
According to the Bureau of labor statistics (BLS), the median weekly wage in 2020 for people with certifications was higher than both those with licenses and those lacking any professional credentials altogether. Here’s a look at the data :
|Median weekly wage|
|With a certification, but not license||$1,307|
|With a license||$1,177|
|Without a certification or license||$913|
In another report, the BLS found that those with certifications or licenses had lower unemployment rates than those without either. As the chart below illustrates, people with a certification or license faced unemployment rates almost half that of those without those credentials .
|With a certification or license||4.7 percent|
|Without a certification or license||9.1 percent|
As these figures and statistics show, a certification can be a worthwhile investment to advance your career and job prospects.
There are many good reasons to include a certification on your resume. But, depending on the job, not all certifications should be put on the resume you send a potential employer.
Some of the most common reasons to include a certification on you resume are:
If the job to which you are applying requires a specific certification, then you should make sure to include it on your resume. To find out if an employer only wants applicants with a specific certification, carefully read the job description for any requirements.
If you possess a certification that isn’t required by the job but is nonetheless relevant to it, then you should make sure to include it on your resume. That said, make sure to only include those certifications and licenses that actually relate to the job. Including irrelevant qualifications could obscure those that actually prepare you for the position and unnecessarily clutter your resume.
If you are applying for a job or industry in which you have no prior experience, then a relevant certification can help emphasize your preparedness for the role. This strategy is especially helpful for career switchers and those just entering the job market.
If the certification is a rare achievement in your industry, then putting it on your resume can be a good way to draw attention to your dedication to the field and any special training you have completed. Typically, this scenario only applies to those who have many years of experience in the industry.
Read more: What Are Certificate Programs?
The format of a certification on your resume is relatively straightforward. Generally, there are five key parts of a certification on your resume. They are:
1. Title: the official name of the certification.
2. Awarding institution: the name of the professional or educational organization through which you acquired your certification or license.
3. The date it was awarded: the date that you completed the requirements to achieve the certification. If the certification is in progress, then you simply put “In progress.”
4. The certification’s expiration date: the date that the certification stops being recognized. Many awarding institutions offer the opportunity to extend your certification through additional training.
5. Relevant skills: the skills you honed and acquired through the certification program. The skills you emphasize should be those relevant to the position you are applying to.
In practice, each of the five parts is laid out as follows in the template and example below. When listing relevant certifications or licenses, make sure to order them in reverse chronological order with the most recent ahead of the oldest.
|Certification name||CPR certification|
|Awarding institution, Date||American Red Cross, February 2022|
|Expires: Date||Expires: February 2024|
|Relevant skills: Skills list||Relevant skills: AED, CPR|
There are several places you can put your qualification resume. In this section, you will learn the most common – and strategic – places on your resume and job application to put your certifications.
The first place you should highlight your certificate is in a dedicated certification section on your resume.
This section can be added either under the “education” section or the “skills” section of your resume, depending on how it is formatted. A common name for this section is “certifications and licenses” but you can also simply call it “certifications” or “licenses” depending on the qualifications you possess.
In this section, make sure to only add certifications and licenses relevant to the position, so hiring managers can easily find them. While you might possess numerous qualifications from numerous fields, the most important certifications are the certifications relevant to the job. This may require tailoring your resume for each job application.
Some certifications and licenses include a common abbreviation that is well-accepted and understood in a professional community, such as CCRN for “Critical Care Registered Nurse” in the health care profession. If your certification falls under this category, then it is wise to add the abbreviation next to your name in the contact information section of your resume. This allows hiring managers to quickly see the relevant certifications you possess.
Melinda Stamets, CCRN, RN
m: (555) 555-5555
In the professional summary section of your resume, it is helpful to include relevant certifications to re-emphasize your credentials. This not only helps hiring managers see that you possess the required training for the job, but it also can help automated systems that scan your resume to identify you as someone with the required qualifications.
“CCRN certified nurse with 6+ years of professional experience supporting hospital administration and critically ill patients in ICU and critical care transport.”
The final place in your job application that you should reference your certifications and licenses is on your cover letter. This can be a good way to flag your credentials right away in your job application and expand on how you have employed those skills in your professional life. At the same time, it can also potentially help your resume more easily match with the automated systems that scan resumes for specific keywords.
“As a CCRN certified nurse, I have over six years experience working alongside administrators and other health care providers in intensive care units to ensure critically ill patients get the help they need…”
A relevant certification has the potential to improve your job prospects. As you are thinking about your next big career shift, you might consider obtaining a professional certificate through Coursera.
Offered by such world-class partners as Google, IBM, and Meta, Coursera’s flexible, online professional certificates can help you get job-ready for such in-demand careers as project manager or data analyst.
1. BLS. “Median weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers by certification and licensing status and selected characteristics, 2020 annual averages, https://www.bls.gov/cps/aa2020/cpsaat54.pdf.” Accessed February 24, 2022.
2. BLS. “Employment status of the civilian noninstitutional population by certification and licensing status and selected characteristics, 2020 annual averages, https://www.bls.gov/cps/aa2020/cpsaat50.pdf.” Accessed February 24, 2022.
This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.