Free Certifications for Your Resume

free certifications for the resume

Certifications can be a great way to communicate with your employer that you’ll go above and beyond the job requirements. It shows that your passion and desire to educate yourself and improve your ability to perform on the job goes beyond simply receiving a university-level degree.

But with high costs of tuition, who wants to spend more money on improving their resume? Not many job seekers. So what are free certifications that you can get which can improve your resume?

We’re going to cover that and more in this writeup. Before we jump into which free certifications you may want to investigate, let’s talk about why certifications are important.

Why Certifications Are Important and Which Certifications to Receive

Before you start signing up for all of the free certifications you can get your hands on, it’s important to understand why certifications are important. The first component of why they improve your resume is that they show your commitment towards educating yourself in and out of the job.

For example, if you were an Elementary School Teacher, you may want to get a CPR certification. This shows that you care about child safety in the classroom. But CPR training may not always be free (unless received by a YMCA or township).

Which brings us to the second point, only receive certifications which are targeted to the job that you want. If you’re a Software Engineer, then receiving PMP training would be applicable. This is a type of project management training.

But if you were a Software Engineer and received CPR training, while this is great that you took the initiative to learn this valuable skill; it might not be impactful to your resume.

The key takeaway here is, target your certifications to the type of job you have or the type of job you want. Be sure to research which types of certifications might be most applicable to that role and your future responsibilities.

Where and How to List Certifications on Your Resume

When listing certifications on your resume, don’t place them higher on the page than your prior work experience section or your education section. Both of those are going to be a higher priority in terms of your hiring managers interest than certifications.

Be sure that certifications as a section, is listed toward the bottom of the page, near where you might list your soft skills or other accolades that make up your personal and work history.

Your certifications should look like the following.

PMP Certification 2012
Human-Computer Interaction Certification 2011
CPR Certification 2010

Be sure to list the dates which you completed the course or certification, as it can be helpful to frame that you decided to further your education after your university-level degrees.

Always list your certifications like you do your prior work experience, in reverse chronological order. This means your most recent certifications toward the top of the list. And your oldest certifications toward the bottom of the list.

Courses and Certifications

This is an important note to make before you start clicking into the opportunities available to you in this list. The difference between courses and certifications. Online courses are often just as impactful as certifications. For example, if you were to take the online free course regarding the history of antibiotics from Stanford, this would be just as impactful as receiving a certification.

The way to list this on your certification section is to state the completion of the course. For example, “Completion of The History of Antibiotics from Stanford University”.

Don’t ignore courses simply because they don’t say that they are certifications. Any amount of education furthering on your part, as long as it pertains to the job you’re applying for, will be impactful for your future employer.

Free Online Certifications


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


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.

MIT Open Courseware

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.

Khan Academy

Khan Academy offers a number of online free courses in Math, Science, Engineering, Arts and Humanities. These can be great ways to improve your education history for those who may not have traditional education history aligned to the job they are seeking.


edX is an online platform that specialists 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.

Coursera x Stanford

Coursera can help you find courses offered specifically from Stanford University or many other prestigious universities. For example, 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.

Don’t Forget About Safety Training

Many positions offer free safety training courses on behalf of your employment. Whether it’s safety training in the workplace that happens after work hours. Or free CPR training and certification that occurs after work hours.

Ask your employer if they have any type of free employee benefit programs for providing certifications. This can be a great way to get ahead of your certifications before you leave your place of employment. Meaning, use your current employer as an opportunity to collect more training opportunities and certifications that you can use to build your resume up.

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.


Help us by spreading the word