Certifications on a Resume: How to Highlight Them the Right Way (+ Examples)

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July 28, 2023
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19
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3 Key Takeaways

  • Certifications are credentials organizations or institutions give after you successfully complete a specific assessment, training program, or online course.
  • There are several types of certifications you can list on your resume to validate your expertise.
  • With Teal's AI Resume Builder, you can add certifications to your resume while maintaining a clear, organized resume structur

You've spent the time (and quite possibly the money) working through certification courses to boost your skillset, increase marketability, and deepen your knowledge in specific areas. And especially if you don't have extensive professional experience, these certifications are extremely valuable assets—highlighting the incredible knowledge you possess.

So beyond that nifty LinkedIn feature that lets you showcase your latest accomplishment, what other ways can you effectively leverage your shiny new certificate?

One approach is including your certification on a resume. 

Certifications on resumes can help you align your credentials to the qualifications prospective employers are looking for. In fact, they can play a crucial role in illustrating your expertise and commitment to professional development—differentiating you in today's job market. 

But where do you list certifications to your resume? And how do you know if they're relevant to that position you have your eye on?

Understanding certifications on a resume

Certifications are official credentials organizations or institutions give after a person successfully completes a specific assessment, training program, or online course. 

Think of them as a kind of trophy or medal in the world of professional expertise. 

Across industries, certifications are significant because they validate competency or proficiency in specific tasks or technologies, especially where specialized knowledge is crucial (for example, IT, healthcare, finance, project management, language proficiency, etc.). They also:

  • Promote career advancement 
  • Align with industry standards 
  • Offer job seekers a competitive advantage 
  • Showcase credibility and increase trust 

Using certifications to boost your resume

Much like including projects in your resume, adding certifications helps highlight your skills and impact—elevating your professional profile. 

Especially if you have limited experience or are early in your career, including relevant certifications on your resume can significantly increase your chances of getting noticed by hiring managers, recruiters, and prospective employers as a candidate with the knowledge or skills that might be required to be successful in a particular role. 

In addition to highlighting your skills, relevant certifications can help align your qualifications (and resume!) with the requirements of specific roles. 

To determine whether or not a role you're applying for requires a certification, read the job description carefully. Look for keywords indicating "mandatory" or "required" qualifications. 

Pro Tip: Teal's Job Application Tracker and AI Resume Builder help extract the most important keywords from a job description so you can tailor your resume with the most relevant certifications for every job you apply to.

Finally, as an added bonus, listing certifications on your resume also fills experience gaps by demonstrating a commitment to learning and self-improvement in your field—increasing your potential and highlighting your willingness to invest in your future and career. (Way to go!) 

Types of certifications on resumes

Professional certifications 

Professional certifications are credentials awarded by recognized organizations or associations (think Scrum Alliance, Amazon Web Services, and CompTIA).

These credentials validate skills and expertise in a particular occupation or industry. Professionals often pursue these certifications to upskill, enhance careers, and establish credibility. 

Some examples of professional certifications are things like:

  • Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
  • Project Management Professional (PMP), 
  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
  • Google Analytics Individual Qualification (IQ)

Academic certifications

Educational institutions grant academic certifications at various educational levels (from undergraduate to postgraduate) to indicate the successful completion of a specific academic program or course. For example, Purdue University offers a postgraduate certificate in Cybersecurity.

Think of them like a minor to your major—complementing your primary focus. These credentials demonstrate proficiency in a particular subject or area of study. 

Some examples of academic certificates are:

  • University of California, Berkeley: Data Science
  • New York University (NYU): Certificate in Digital Marketing 
  • University: University of Pennsylvania: Social Impact Strategy 
  • University of Texas at Austin: Business Foundations 
  • Georgetown University: Leadership Coaching

Technical certifications

Technical certifications focus on validating skills and knowledge related to specific technologies, tools, or software. And they're particularly prevalent in the IT industry (for instance, programming languages, cybersecurity, cloud computing, networking, and database management).

Keep in mind technical certifications aren't just limited to entry-level positions; they hold significance for professionals at any stage in their careers.

Examples of technical certifications include:

  • AWS Certified Solutions Architect
  • Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)
  • Microsoft Certified Azure Administrator
  • Oracle Certified Java Programmer (OCP)

Industry-specific certifications

Professionals working in specialized fields or sectors can pursue industry-specific certifications. And these cater to the unique requirements and standards of particular industries—like the healthcare industry has job critical resume certifications for medical professionals like Registered Nurses (RN), Certified Medical Assistants (CMA), and more.

Industry-specific certifications serve a distinct purpose, and people often pursue multiple certifications to strengthen their expertise and differentiate themselves further in today's competitive job market. 

Some industry-specific certifications are:

  • Certified ScrumMaster (CSM)
  • Certified Digital Marketing Professional (CDMP)
  • Certified Financial Planner (CFP)
  • Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT) 
  • Certified Professional in Supply Management (CPSM)

How to list certifications on a resume

When listing certifications on a resume, there are a few ways to draw attention to your credentials while keeping a clear, concise, and organized structure.

Where to put certifications on a resume

The most common ways to list certifications on a resume are in a dedicated "Certification" section. You can also use your "Education" section (particularly if you have academic certificates). 

Using one of these dedicated sections presents your credentials in a scannable format, making it easy for a hiring manager, recruiter, and prospective employer to get a high-level overview of your additional qualifications.

Of course, if you need more space, you can also incorporate certifications throughout different sections of your resume to highlight your areas of specialized expertise. (For example, you can start your resume summary with something like "Certified PMP with 7 years of experience.")

Step-by-step guide for how to write certifications on a resume

When it comes to adding certifications on resumes, it's slightly different than listing your projects and their impact or adding extracurricular activities to your resume

With certifications, there are three steps you want to take to ensure you include the necessary information

Step 1: Add the name of the certification, and in parentheses, use any common acronyms or abbreviations it may be known by (such as CPA, CFA, or CISSP). 

Step 2: List the certifying agency using the complete business, institution, or organization name. (For example, use "Indiana University" rather than "IU," and "Project Management Institute" rather than "PMI.")

Step 3: Include the start date and end date or date of completion. Be sure to follow the same date format for each. So MM/DD/YEAR, Month, Date, Year, etc.

How you format your certifications in either section is up to you, but be mindful that they should each follow the same structure. 

So, if you list the certification first, the provider second, and the date third using a repeat that for each certificate. The same goes for the white space between each certification and whether or not you use bullet points. Just be consistent. 

Certifications on resume samples

To get a clear picture of the best methods for adding certifications to a resume, check out the these resume examples across roles, industries, and seniority level below. 

“Certification” section example for devops engineer

  • Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA) | Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) | June 2023
  • AWS Certified DevOps Engineer - Professional | Amazon Web Services| October 2022
  • Certified Jenkins Engineer | CloudBees, Inc. | August 2021
  • Docker Certified Associate (DCA) | Docker, Inc. | March 2022

Certification section example for copywriter:

  • Google Ads - Search Advertising Certification

Google - 5/23

  • HubSpot Content Marketing Certification

HubSpot Academy - 7/22

  • Copyblogger Certified Content Marketer

Copyblogger - 11/21

Certification section example for administrative assistant:

  • Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) - Word/Excel/Outlook

Date of Completion: September 2022

Issued by: Microsoft

  • Professional Administrative Certificate (PAC)

Date of Completion: December 2021

Issued by: International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP)

  • Certified Administrative Professional (CAP)

Date of Completion: August 2023

Issued by: IAAP

Certification in Education section example for brand strategist

Education

  • Master of Marketing and Communication New York University (NYU), New York City
  • Graduation Date: December 2020
  • NYU School of Professional Studies Branding Certificate
  • Date of Completion: August 2021
  • Issued by: New York University (NYU) School of Professional Studies

Certification in Education section example for graphic designer 

Education

  • Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) | 2019
  • Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) Advanced Graphic Design Certificate | Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) | 2020 
  • UI/UX Design Certification | Interaction Design Foundation (IDF) |2021

Certification in Education section example for data analyst 

Education

  • Bachelor of Science in Statistics University of Texas at Austin, May 2022
  • University of Texas at Austin Data Analytics Certificate - University of Texas at Austin, December 2022

Certification in Education section example for back-end engineer 

Education

  • Bachelor of Science in Computer Science Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Anticipated Graduation Date: May 2024

  • MIT Professional Education Software Development Certificate

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) 

Date of Completion: May 2023

Certification in a professional resume summary example for back-end engineer:

Highly skilled Back-end Engineer with 5 years of experience designing and developing robust and scalable back-end systems. Proficient in Java and Spring Framework. AWS Certified Developer with a proven track record of deploying and managing microservices architecture for cloud-based applications.

Certification in a professional resume summary example for remote customer service :

Customer-centric Remote Customer Service Specialist with 3 years of experience providing exceptional customer support. Certified in Zendesk Support and skilled in resolving complex inquiries across multiple communication channels. Demonstrated ability to maintain high customer satisfaction levels while working remotely.

Certification in a professional resume summary example for data analyst:

Data Analyst with a strong analytical mindset and 4 years of experience in data manipulation and visualization. Proficient in SQL and Python. Google Analytics Certified with a history of generating actionable insights to optimize business performance and drive growth.

Certifications for entry-level roles:

  • Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) - Word/Excel/PowerPoint
  • CompTIA IT Fundamentals+
  • Google Ads - Fundamentals
  • HubSpot Inbound Marketing Certification
  • Salesforce Certified Administrator
  • Certified ScrumMaster (CSM)
  • Hootsuite Social Media Marketing Certification
  • Google Analytics Individual Qualification (GAIQ)
  • Amazon Web Services (AWS) Certified Cloud Practitioner
  • ITIL Foundation Certification

Certifications for mid-level roles:

  • Project Management Professional (PMP)
  • Google Ads - Search Advertising Certification
  • Microsoft Certified Azure Administrator Associate
  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
  • Certified Data Professional (CDP)
  • Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
  • Tableau Desktop Specialist
  • AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate
  • Certified Agile Project Manager (IAPM)
  • Google Analytics Advanced Certification

Certifications for senior-level roles:

  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
  • Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
  • AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Professional
  • Project Management Professional (PMP)
  • Certified Scrum Professional (CSP)
  • Google Ads - Display Advertising Certification
  • Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert
  • Certified Business Continuity Professional (CBCP)
  • Data Management Association Certified Data Management Professional (CDMP)
  • Certified Chief Information Security Officer (CCISO)

By no means are these examples exhaustive. There are hundreds of thousands of online courses with certifications available for almost any role and professional level. How you choose which certifications you're interested in will ultimately depend on your interests, goals, and the specific requirements of the job market. 

Common mistakes to avoid when listing certifications on a resume

Now that you understand the significance of resume certifications let's take a look at some things you should avoid when listing certificates on a resume. 

Listing irrelevant certifications

Even if you have minimal work experience, don't list certifications certifications that aren't related to the job you're applying for can clutter your resume and distract from the qualifications that matter. (For example, your cpr certification might not be as relevant as your human resource management certification if you're applying to a role at a remote tech company.)

The only caveat is that if a certification demonstrates a transferable skill or an area of knowledge that might interest a prospective employer, it may be worth including.

Not providing enough information

Neglecting to include essential details like the certifying organization, year received, and what skills or knowledge the certification covers can hurt your credibility. This additional information also helps employers understand the relevance of (and the effort you put into) your credentials.

Misrepresenting or exaggerating certifications

Honesty is vital on a resume. Don't say you've obtained a professional certification or completed a course if you're still in progress or only partially completed it (unless you explicitly state that this is the case). Also, you should never list certifications you don't have.

Misrepresenting your qualifications can have negative consequences on your professional reputation and career. Remember, to hire you; companies also have to trust you. (And on't forget to check for an expiration date!)

Not tailoring your certifications to each job application

The certificates you list on your resume might change depending on the job you're applying for. Make sure to highlight the credentials that are most relevant to each specific job description.

How Teal's AI Resume Builder can help

Teal's AI Resume Builder offers intuitive features that make creating a professional resume with certifications a streamlined (and tailored!) process. 

With Teal, you can list certifications, other relevant skills, and experience seamlessly in whatever section you choose, including a dedicated "Certification" section—making them highly visible to prospective employers.

But before you get started, make sure you list certifications that align with the role you're applying for. 

Teal's Job Application Tracker automatically highlights the important keywords and skills required for a role you're interested in. By cross-referencing these keywords with your certifications, you can determine which qualifications are worth emphasizing on your resume.

Maximize your resume's impact with certifications and Teal

Your certifications represent your expertise and commitment to professional growth.

And regardless of your experience or where you're at in your career, showcasing them on your resume grabs the attention of the hiring manager or recruiter—drawing attention to the time you've spent honing your skills and investing in your career.

With Teal's suite of tools, you can ensure your certifications are highlighted and tailored to the specific job you're applying for—making your resume (and qualifications!) more attractive in today's market.

So don't stop here. Start adding certifications to your resume with Teal today!

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I include certifications that are not directly related to the job I'm applying for?

It's best to prioritize relevance on your resume. Include certifications that showcase transferable skills or demonstrate your commitment to continuous learning and professional development. If space allows, you can list unrelated certifications, but ensure they do not overshadow the qualifications that make you a strong candidate for the specific role.

How do I decide the order in which to list my certifications?

Certifications should be listed in order of relevance to the job you're applying for. If all are equally relevant, list them chronologically, starting with the most recent. High-value or recognized certifications can also be listed first to catch the employer's attention.

Can I include online course certifications on my resume, and how should they be presented?

Yes, online course certifications can be included, especially if they are from reputable platforms or institutions. Present them under a separate section titled 'Online Education' or 'Professional Development,' and include the course name, the institution, and the date of completion. Highlight any key skills or knowledge you gained that are applicable to the job.

Kayte Grady

Kayte, Senior Copywriter at Teal and Champion of ADHD professionals, is a seasoned writer passionate about storytelling and career growth. With a data-driven approach to content marketing and a word-nerd knack for resume builder analysis, Kayte’s on a mission to empower job seekers to land a job they love. Constantly pivoting and reinventing herself, this social-worker-turned-marketer found growth and camaraderie in tech—a genuine surprise given her never-ending devotion to the paper calendar.

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