15+ Free Online Certifications to Enhance a Professional Resume [2020]

Certifications are a great way to show a potential employer the desire to advance skills, knowledge, and continuing education. For entry-level workers, who lack work history and experience to list on a resume, a certification can be a great way to show passion to a hiring manager or employer.

Many programs have both paid certifications and free certifications depending on the industry, job, or desired experience level for the job seeker. The online courses require anywhere from two hours (a short course) to multiple days (a more advanced course) to complete. Once the course is completed, it’s common for the certification or certificate to be issued upon the completion of a short exam.

For an employer, the advantage of certifications is bountiful. First, it tells the employer that they may need to spend less time on training since learning has been provided by a certified company or organization that correctly represents the skill. Second, it informs the employer that the job seeker is interested in learning. This is an important core competency as it shows adaptability in the workplace.

A free certification is just as valuable as a paid certification, especially in the case of it being relevant to the job function. For example, if the employee is a Software Engineer, having programming certifications in cybersecurity, neural networks (or machine learning), and other programming languages can be a valuable asset and addition to the resume. And can be doubly as impactful when coupled with a Computer Science degree.

Assuming a professional who is in a marketing job function, a number of free certifications provided by Hubspot can be a valuable asset. The courses include knowledge of SEO, inbound marketing, data analytics, social media marketing, content marketing, and other certifications that are impactful for marketers.

A number of the courses available are provided by a University located in the United States. Or by industry experts, like Hubspot, for example. The courses contain pre-recorded webinars, tutorials, quizzes, and other course material to assist the student with their education.

Free Online Certification Platforms

The following platforms provide a number of course materials, both in the paid course and free course format, for a number of job titles and job functions available in the United States.

1. TEDEd

Ted offers an online education platform with a number of unique courses that are applicable to many job types.

2. Alison

Alison is uniquely positioned to be offering free online courses all with certifications. From the “Fundamentals of Virology” to “Fundraising for the Non-Profit”. Alison offers more than 1,300 free online courses all with certifications.

3. MIT OpenCourseware

MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) offers free online courseware which can be impactful to show on your resume. By simply having MIT as part of your education history, you should be able to increase your employability.

4. Khan Academy

Khan Academy offers a number of online free courses in math, science, engineering, arts, and humanities.

5. edX

edX is an online platform that specializes in Computer Science, Language, Data Science, Business & Management, Engineering, and Humanities. These online courses are all syndicated through MIT, Harvard, Berkeley, Stanford, and many more prestigious institutions.

6. Udacity

Udacity offers a wide range of non-degree courses for those looking to go into cloud computing, business, artificial intelligence, autonomous systems, data science, and many other developing fields.

7. Coursera x Stanford

Courses such as “Stanford Introduction to Food and Health” may be a beneficial course for those looking to go into the Biology field or the farming and agriculture field. Multiple courses are available through this partnership between Coursera and Stanford University.

8. Trailhead by Salesforce

Salesforce offers a wide range of certifications available for marketers. From inbound marketing, content marketing, social media management, and more.

9. UC Berkeley

UC Berkeley offers free online courses through their BerkeleyX program, which includes courses in psychology, social justice, creative writing, technical writing, English and literature, and more.

10. Skillshare

Skillshare is a platform that offers both paid and free courses to gain valuable experience and skills from an expert in the field.

11. Coursehero

Coursehero is a paid and free online platform that offers education in subjects like Physics, Astrophysics, Earth Science, Astronomy, Health Science, Chemistry, and other subject matter.

12. Futurelearn

Futurelearn is a platform similar to Skillshare, but by educators, academics, scientists, and other professionals in the field. This includes courses and material on healthcare, medicine, teaching or education, and more.

Free Certifications to Add to a Resume

Below are some of the best free online courses for technology professionals, marketers, and general professionals.

1. Active-Listening Certification

Active listening is one of the most valuable and effective skills in the workplace. It is the skill of being able to not only listen to a colleague but understand them.

2. CPR Certification

CPR certification is valuable for any type of job. From those working in an office environment to a barista. Knowing how to safely take care of a fellow employee in the event of an emergency is a valuable skill.

3. PMI Certification for Agile Project Development

Agile project management is being widely adopted. While initiating from the technology industry, project management is a skill that almost all industries practice. It is the skill of completing projects and delivering business needs.

4. ID Checkpoint Certification

A certification perfect for bartenders, waiters, and other restaurant industry professionals. This certification shows the ability to check for identification when required (like when ordering or purchasing alcohol).

5. Interpreter Certification

As a bilingual professional, having an interpreter certification can be a valuable addition to any employer. This can show the ability to translate messages to foreign customers or colleagues.

6. Medical Terminology Certification by AAMA

Perfect for a Registered Nurse or medical practitioner, having a medical terminology certification be a valuable addition to any Ph.D.

7. Hubspot Academy SEO Certification

Hubspot's free SEO certification is perfect for marketers. This program shows an understanding of inbound marketing, organic marketing, and more.

8. Cognitive Class (from IBM)

IBM’s cognitive class is perfect for engineers looking to enter the field of autonomous automation, machine learning, or other artificial intelligence fields. This certification is perfect for engineers who wish to advance their Python programming skills or code software using the Python computing language at work.

9. IT Certification Program from Pluralsight

Perfect for IT professional or entry-level IT professionals, this program from Pluralsight provides a wide range of IT and IT support education.

10. U.S. Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity Course

For engineers or cybersecurity professionals, this course by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security offers knowledge and advancement in the field of cybersecurity.

11. Hubspot Academy Social Media Marketing Certification

Hubspot’s social media marketing program offers information on the use of Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms for brands.

12. Getting Started with Neural Networks by Analytics Vidhya

Neural networks power artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, and other advanced forms of technology. As a programmer, engineer, or cybersecurity professional, having a neural network certification can be a valuable addition to the resume.

13. Hubspot Inbound Marketing Certification

Inbound marketing refers to lead generation or paid search marketing. This is a primary way that all brands bring in potential customers. Making it a perfect online course and certification for advertising professionals and marketers.

14. Salesforce Certification

Salesforce offers a general salesforce certification, which is a perfect professional certification for any sales professional. From a sales representative to sales manager. Completing this online course shows expertise in the use of Salesforce.

15. Google Analytics Academy

Google Analytics is the preferred way to measure website visitors and performance across the internet. This is a valuable certification for any professional who uses data, analytics, and other metrics to measure the effectiveness of their work.

16. Amazon AWS Certification

Amazon offers AWS (Amazon Web Services) certifications for engineers and programmers. Perfect for those in the field of operations or server operations. This certification shows an advanced knowledge of server-side programming and operations.

Where to Put Certifications on the Resume

Certifications should be listed in their own section on a resume, below the "Education" section. Below is an example of what certifications should appear like on a professional resume:

PMP Certification by IBM 2012
Human-Computer Interaction Certification from Stanford University 2011
CPR Certification 2010

It's important to include the certification, source of the certification, and the year the certification was received.

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, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, and many more.


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