Certifications on a CV

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Certifications are official documents which verify a qualification, course, study or training. Many of us have a variety of certifications, as they can vary from professional industry-specific courses or more transferable skill-related training. Including your certifications on a CV can attract the recruiter’s attention and make you stand out from a group of candidates.

Not all certifications are extracurricular, as you need particular certificates in order to be able to work particular job roles. However, in the case that you have a certification which was voluntary, this can demonstrate your interest and passion for a certain subject or area of work.

Industry-specific certifications are necessary in order to be able to work certain jobs, making them basic requirements in the process of a job application. It is vital that these certifications are presented correctly on a CV and that recruiters are aware which professional certifications you possess.

Applicants often focus on the interview and forget that writing your CV is one of the most crucial parts of applying for a job. In fact, you can only get to the interview stage with an effective, clear and professional CV. Incorporating your certifications into your CV can highlight your key skills and knowledge, as well as tick the boxes of the job requirements.


Listing certifications on a CV

The process of listing your certificates may be as easy as pie, or quite the contrary.

Here is a rough guide for how to include certifications on a CV:

  • Compile a list of your certifications and decide which are most relevant to the job specification, therefore boosting your job application and making you a strong candidate
  • Check the validity of your certificate and make sure that none have expired
  • Distinguish which certifications should be listed in which sections of your CV i.e., education, qualifications or certifications
  • List them accordingly in a clear and concise manner

Expired Certifications on a CV

Unless you are in the process of renewing your certification, you shouldn’t leave an expired certificate on your CV.

Not all certificates expire, though it is true that some are only valid for a certain amount of time. Therefore it is worth checking if you are in the process of updating your CV before you get to a job interview with your documents and realise that the certificate recruiters are most likely to be most interested in, has in fact expired.

If you are in the process of retaking or renewing a certificate, you should indicate this on your CV.

Where to list certifications on a CV

Academic certifications should ideally be listed in the education section of your CV. This can also be said for certifications which involved studying at a college or university, such as a Creative Multimedia and Journalism Higher National Diploma.

Certifications which are less orientated towards a specific industry can be listed in a qualifications section, or you can choose to call this section “certifications”, as well.

If you feel that a certain certificate you hold doesn’t make the cut or fit on your CV, you can mention it in a cover letter for a job application which may add a special something or give your job application an extra edge.

CV certification format

Formatting the certifications section of a CV is a matter of following your CV format and keeping all features consistent.

You can use a CV template to create a CV with a perfect format and professional layout.

Tips on formatting certifications on a CV:

  • Make sure your font and font size is the same as on the rest of your CV
  • Ensure layout and spacing is equal
  • Don’t write long sentences, list briefly
  • Always dates your certifications
  • State the name of the certifying organisation, college or institute

If you have one or two certificates you can list them in the qualifications section, or create a separate certifications section to highlight your achievements and qualifications.

Remember: if called for an interview, you should make sure you take your certificates with you (preferably in a folder which contains all relevant documents).

Types of certifications to include on a CV

Types of certification can vary depending on the type of work, but not all have to relate directly to a specific industry. Certifications can include transferable skills and certifications in abilities which can be transferred from one work environment to another.

For example:

  • First aid
  • Equality and diversity training course
  • Management and leadership certification course

Some certifications are obligatory for a candidate to hold in order to succeed in the job application process. This can vary from sector to sector, but an example would be a medical certification in order to work a certain position in the medical sector.

It’s not necessary to include all your certifications on a CV, as it’s likely that they are not all pertinent to the job. Ideally, you should include any certificates which complement the job description and demonstrate your compatibility with the job specification.

CV certification examples

View the following examples of CV certifications to understand which types of certificate fit in which sections of a CV.

Example of an academic certification:

Academic certifications can be listed under the education section on a CV. For example:

2013-2017 South Downs College
Higher National Diploma (HND) in Business and Management

If you choose to list some of your certifications in the qualifications CV, you need only list them in the same format as any others you have listed. The important factors to include are:

  • The name of the certification
  • You can choose whether you wish you include the certifying organisation, company or academic institute
  • The expiry date if it expires
  • You can choose whether you wish to include the date of completion

Food Hygiene Certificate (exp. 2017)


2014 Food Hygiene Level 2 Certificate (exp. 2017)
NCASS (Nationwide Caterers Association)


Use an online CV maker to avoid making format or layout mistakes and use the tips given to create an outstanding CV where your certifications can really stand out and get you the call you need for an interview.

Last modified on 15 October 2020

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