Listing Certifications on a Resume (Examples, How To) [2020 Updated]

certifications on resume

Having certifications as part of your qualifications can make you stand out as a candidate as well as ensure that you’re telling your future employer that you have the requirements for the job.

But where do you put certifications? How can you make them impactful? How can you make sure the employer notices them? And what is the format for listing certifications on your resume?

Let’s jump into each of these questions and try to give you all the tools that you need to build a resume full of strong certifications.

In this writeup we’re going to cover:

Ready? Let’s jump right in.

Certifications on Your Resume or Cover Letter?

Certifications can be imperative to put along with your application details. So imperative as a matter of fact that you might want to consider not just placing your certifications on your resume, but the cover letter as well.

This is one of the most important expert tips you’ll read in this guide, put your certifications on your cover letter.

When you do this, all you have to do is write down a few bullet points that make you uniquely positioned to be a high caliber candidate.

Take those bullet points and include them as part of your reasoning for why you are applying for the position. If you don’t already know, this is how you can make an impactful cover letter. With achievements, merits, certifications, and more.

Here is what that might look like:

"I’m applying for the position of Software Engineer because I noticed you were looking for Engineers who can be team leaders as well as individual contributors. I also noticed that you were looking for someone with PMP certification, which I received from the Illinois Institute of Technology in 2018."

By listing your certifications in your cover letter, you can double the chances that the interviewer will see them.

Don’t rely on the resume to do all the work. This is because interviewers and HR managers each have their own way of judging a candidate. And some may rely more on the cover letter than they do the resume.

Now that you’ve done that, continue reading to find out where to put certifications on your resume and what the best format for listing them is.

Where Should Certifications Go on Your Resume?

Resume’s have a couple of sections that you should already know about. That would be your contact information, resume summary, previous work history. These are your main sections.

But if certifications are important for this position, consider adding a “Certifications & Awards” section to your resume. Inside this section, you can include any other academic achievements or awards that you might have received.

When you list your certification, be sure to list what the certification is when you received the certification, and if possible who it was from.

For example:

PMP Certification
Stanford University, 2019

When you group them together, they should contain a single line break in between these two lines and then list no more than 5-8 of them. You don’t want your certifications to take up too much space on your resume, distracting the reader from your prior work experience.

If you don’t have awards, don’t worry. All you have to do is create a new section called “Certifications”.

This section should go at the very bottom of your resume. Just below your prior work experience. Your prior work experience will always be more important than your certifications.

If you received certifications while at another job, you could decide to include that certification along with the bullet points that accompany your prior work experience. That is another valid way of integrating your certifications into the resume.

What Jobs Require Certifications to be Present on the Resume or Cover Letter?

It’s important to recognize which jobs require certifications. While all job seekers can benefit from listing certifications, only a few types of jobs will truly have a requirement for them. For example, if you’re applying for a Software Engineer position, listing a CPR certification might not benefit you at all. And could distract your interviewer.

Jobs that require certifications are:

While the list of jobs that require certifications is long, this should give you an idea whether or not your position is similar to the types of positions listed above.

These may not just be certifications, but they could be licenses, too. That may look like, "Speciality Certification and GEFCC Policies and Procedures"

If you aren’t sure whether or not the position requires certifications, you may want to contact the employer and ask if any certifications are important for the application. You might not receive a response but it doesn’t hurt to try.

The job description will generally list the required certifications. If that’s the case, be sure that you reflect as many of the required certifications on your resume as you can. That’s the way to ensure your resume is customized to the position.

Remember, the certifications are usually listed under the “Requirements” section of the job description listed online.

What About Listing Certifications in Your Contact Information?

If you’re a Registered Nurse, Physician, Doctor, or hold a Ph.D., it is going to be impactful to include that as part of your name and titling when listing your contact information.

All it does is further support the fact that you are properly educated and qualified for the position.

Though, this shouldn’t be used for those who may have certifications for positions that don’t require them. Once again, using the Software Engineering example. You don’t want to name yourself as, “James Smith, PMP”.

Simply because it is less widely recognized as “Dr. James Smith” when listing your name. And it could cause confusion with the interviewer or make them feel as though you are too pretentious for the position.

What About “CPR Certification”?

While CPR certification is widely requested. It is only recommended to list as a certification for those who are in positions where they are in the care of others.

For example, teachers, daycare workers, social workers, EMT’s, and other positions would require CPR certification as part of the requirements.

Though, for Software Engineers, CPR certification isn’t going to be as valuable.

Remember, if the position you’re applying for requires you to oversee the care of others, then CPR certification may be a great addition to your resume.

Otherwise, leave it off your resume and choose a certification which is more targeted to the function of the job you’re applying for.

What If I Don’t Have the Required Certifications?

If you don’t have the required certifications, you may want to wait and take the time to go through the courses either in your local area or online.

For example, if you’re applying for a position as an EMT, but don’t have the required education or certifications, it would make sense for you to pause your job application process.

This is because you simply won’t be able to receive that position, regardless of what you might have to say.

Meaning, if the job requires certain certifications, there is not going to be a way to “talk yourself into” the role. You’ll need to spend the time to receive the proper education, then focus on developing your network and proper job application and interview techniques.

Are Free Online Certifications Worthy to List on My Resume?

More certifications are available to receive online. For example, PMP certification, which is strictly for Software Engineering leaders. The question is, what if you received this certification online? Is it still impactful? The answer is, yes!

Any certification, regardless of where you received it, is important. Especially if it is part of the requirements for the job.

It shows that you have the desire to educate yourself beyond the job and beyond your formal education. It shows that you have a passion for the position. And wanting to develop into an even better leader, employee, and executer.

So yes, list as many certifications as you can, even if you received them through online certification courses.

Certifications on a Resume FAQ's

Questions from job seekers about listing certifications.

What if my resume certification was an online course?

That's totally fine. For a marketing professional, for example, a relevant certification maybe something about inbound marketing or content marketing. These can be provided by companies like HubSpot. And are absolutely valuable to list as part of your resume as a marketing professional. It is in addition to your educational background and should be placed in the certification section of your resume.

What about a certification like CompTIA?

A certification like comptia is absolutely great to list as part of your resume. But should only be used for those who are applying for IT positions. And your resume should list certifications that speak to more of your IT training outside of what's already listed in your education section. These types of certifications will stand out to a hiring manager.

Should I put my certifications in my resume objective?

No. Any professional certification that you have should be listed in your certifications section of your resume. Try to keep your resume objective focused on what you've been able to achieve as a professional. For example, in marketing, you would want to focus on your inbound lead generation results in your resume objective. And list any certification program you took as separate from that.

Will my recruiter ask for a certificate to prove my certification?

Depending on what you're applying for, a recruiter may ask to see your certificate. Especially in instances where you are going to be working in health care. Like a Registered Nurse. It may be a requirement of your potential employer to ask the recruiter to validate your certifications and any course you may have had to complete to receive that credential.

Why are certifications good to list on a resume?

Simply put, it indicates professional development outside of work and school. Even taking a free certification can be a great way to stand out. LinkedIn Learning provides a number of online certifications that can be taken for a free or low cost.

Key Takeaways

Here is a recap of what you should have been able to glean from this writeup.

Additional Cover Letter Resources

author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is an experienced executive who has spent a number of years in Silicon Valley hiring and coaching some of the world’s most valuable technology teams. Patrick has been a source for Human Resources and career related insights for Forbes, Glassdoor, Entrepreneur,, SparkHire, and many more.


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