How to List Certifications on Your Resume: Guide + Examples

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Learn how to include certifications on your resume to demonstrate your expertise.

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A professional certification on your resume illustrates to potential employers that you have the job skills they need. As a result, highlighting your certifications on your resume can be a good way to demonstrate how prepared you are for your next job. 

In this article, you'll learn how to include certifications on your resume, where else you should put them in your application materials, and why you might want to participate in a certificate program to meet your career goals

What are certifications?

Professional certifications are credentials awarded to individuals from a recognized certifying body, such as a board, professional association, or institution. They generally represent mastery of a certain skill set. The requirements to qualify for a certification depends on the specific certification, though may include educational instruction, work experience, a formal exam, and a fee.

Attaining a certification can impact on your career, potentially increasing your pay and improving your chances of employment in your desired field. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median weekly wage in 2022 for people with a certification was $1,386, while he median weekly wage of those without a license or certification was $986 [1]. In another report, the BLS found that those with certifications or licenses had lower unemployment rates—1.9 percent—compared to an unemployment rate of 4.2 percent for those without a certification or license [2].

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When to highlight certifications on your resume

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:   

1. The job requires it 

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. 

2. It’s relevant to the job 

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. 

3. You lack relevant work experience 

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. 

Read more: How to Get a Job with No Experience: A Job Seeker’s Guide

4. It’s an achievement

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.

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Looking to craft a stand-out resume? Explore Coursera's Resume Writing Guide to learn how to do it.


How to list certifications on your resume

The format of a certification on your resume is relatively straightforward. Generally, there are five key parts of listing 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 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.

Learn more: Resume Sections: How to Organize Your Resume

Example and template

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

Awarding institution, [date awarded]

Expires: [date]

Relevant skills: [skills list]

CPR certification

American Red Cross, February 2023

Expires: February 2025

Relevant skills: AED, CPR

Where to put certifications on resume

There are several places you can include your certifications on your resume and in your job application. Here are some common strategic placements:

1. In a “certifications and licenses” section

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. 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.

2. Alongside your name

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 you can add the abbreviation next to your name on the top of your resume. This allows hiring managers to quickly see the relevant certifications you possess.

For example, credentialed nurse Melina Stamets may write her name as "Melinda Stamets, CCRN, RN."

3. In your resume summary

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 applicant tracking systems (ATS) that scan your resume to identify you as someone with the required qualifications.

For example, a resume summary with credentials may read: “CCRN certified nurse with 6+ years of professional experience supporting hospital administration and critically ill patients in ICU and critical care transport.”

4. In your cover letter 

The final place in your job application that you should reference your certifications and licenses is in 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. 

For example, a cover letter may include: “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…” 

Add Coursera professional certificates to your resume 

A relevant certification has the potential to improve your job prospects. As you're thinking about your next big career move, you might consider obtaining a professional certificate through Coursera.

Offered by world-class industry leaders like Google, IBM, and Meta, Coursera’s flexible, online professional certificates can help you get job-ready for such in-demand careers as project manager and data analyst, among many more. 

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  • Get access to 7,000+ learning programs from world-class universities and companies, including Google, Yale, Salesforce, and more
  • Try different courses and find your best fit at no additional cost
  • Earn certificates for learning programs you complete
  • A subscription price of $59/month, cancel anytime

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