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How to list certifications and courses on a CV with tips and examples

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How to list certifications and courses on a CV with tips and examples

  • CV
  • · September 28 2022
  • · 7 min read
Courses and certificates

Table of contents

Do you want to stand out from other candidates? Are you in the process of completing several short courses as you transition from one career to another? Perhaps you want to showcase initiative and willingness to learn. Regardless of your background, our article features everything you need to know about when and how to list courses and certificates on a CV.

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Before we go into detail about courses and certificates, it is wise to point out the different naming conventions you might come across while also keeping in mind that the section headings below can be combined on a CV:

  • Licence

  • Credentials

  • Courses

  • Certificates

  • Certification

  • Professional training

  • Professional development.

In today's job market, some form of professional training, certification, or licence is required. In saying so, there is all the more reason to understand the significance of a CV. When writing a CV,  you must only include information relevant to your career goals. The main reason for this is due to a tool called applicant tracking system (ATS). Recruiters and hiring managers use this software to parse CVs according to job requirements. Subsequently, that allows them to identify, track, and sort candidates by years of experience, titles, skills, qualifications, and more.

What are courses and certificates on a CV?

Courses are an additional section that accompanies your hard skills and work experience. They refer to official documents awarded by accredited institutions, associations, or boards and should be brief, concise, and targeted towards your career goals.

On the one hand, courses are a form of training which help you learn, grow, and develop new skills. On the other hand, a certificate is the authentication and validation of your skills or credentials. Completing courses and receiving certificates verifies your proficiency in a particular field/industry. Furthermore, it showcases initiative and willingness to stay up to date. Including them will make you recognised for what you do; both can help advance your career. For this article, certificates and certifications are used interchangeably to avoid confusion in the interpretation for our readers.

How to add courses to a CV? 

It is a common misconception that diplomas or university degrees are the only type of education you can place on your CV. Nevertheless, the reality is different. Your relevant courses and qualifications on a CV often end up as a better selling point than your general education. Their principal value is that they are in-depth and focused on your key skills while giving you a specialisation in a particular field. Keeping in mind the different naming conventions and that preferably, this is a section on its own but courses can also be listed within the Education section of a CV.

When choosing what courses to add and which to exclude, think of your career goals. Put yourself in an employer's shoes and think about what course needs to be added to a CV. Remember, your CV needs to be tailored to a specific job. Consider removing courses or certificates if it is outdated. This information might become redundant and irrelevant for a recruiter reading your application documents.

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Pro Tip

Consider removing courses or certificates if it is outdated. This information might become redundant and irrelevant for a recruiter reading your application documents.

What are must-have and optional sections?

We advise keeping courses and certificates as brief as possible and keeping them one to two lines. Only add longer descriptions if you received or achieved something in addition to the course, such as a ‘Top of the class Award’ or acquired a specific skill under the larger umbrella of a particular field. For example, maybe you did a digital marketing course which includes topics such as SEO, email marketing, and Google Analytics. These might be relevant to your career goals, so it would be advantageous to incorporate them.

Must-haves:

  • Issuer/course name

  • Issued by

  • Issued date (date of completion or in progress)

Marketing - Basic CV Example

CV Example - Fundamentals of Digital Marketing - Google Digital Garage

Optional:

  • Duration

  • Location (online/specific location)

  • Description or modules

  • Types of examination, activities, or projects

  • Results or key learnings such as relevant hard or soft skills

Marketing CV courses and certifications

CV Example - Fundamentals of Digital Marketing - Google Digital Garage
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Pro Tip

Remember that our format and must-have sections are not set in stone. The order, length, and content depend on your writing strategy and the free space you have left. If you have additional space, consider either removing your certifications or making them one line. Avoid using long titles or subtitles as it may confuse the reader or can even come across as unprofessional.

How to list courses and certifications on your CV

If you completed a course over ten years ago, do you think it would be beneficial or detrimental to include it? Adding an outdated course will most likely make the recruiter or hiring manager ask a few questions and, in turn, could potentially harm your chances of landing that first interview. Experts at CVMaker highly recommend including courses that are recent and relevant to the job or your career goals.

Below is an example of how you could list a course in chronological order so that the last, most  (recent) course displays first.is at the top.

Structure:

Issuer, Issued by, Issued date (date of completion/in progress)

Example:

Agile & Scrum basic training, Agile Scrum Group, 2022

Platform App Builder, TrainHead, 2021

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Pro Tip

As with everything on a CV, you will most likely be asked questions, so avoid including invalid or untrue credentials and statements that could negatively affect your application.

What are types of courses and certificates?

When adding relevant courses on a CV, we advise excluding high school certificates/diplomas unless you are starting out your career or only have a secondary education. When applying for a university or a research position, it will be beneficial to include degrees/diplomas as seen in the examples below.

On the other hand, professional training and job-oriented courses are more common to include if you're applying for a regular job. Remember that industry knowledge outweighs academic knowledge for some employees or hiring managers.

Unlike degree or diploma courses, professional training and certificates are more practical and can be added as a separate section on a CV. Although certificates significantly vary in content, length, and teaching approach, including them, is dependant on your career goals.

Four types of courses to include on your CV:

Degree courses

This refers to any classes taken at a recognised tertiary institution (university, college). Unlike certificates or professional training, it is better to place them under the education section. Degree courses apply to students, recent graduates, or people with little to no experience. 

CV Example - BA Business and Management

Diploma courses 

This focuses on practical skills and technical capabilities. An educational institution awards a student with a diploma for passing the course examination. On average, they are short-term and take up to two years to complete.

CV Examples - GCSE diploma

Certifications

These are designated credentials which verify the legitimacy and competence to perform a specific job. An individual or organisation earns them by taking an exam or test. You can think of it as a written assurance or proof that a person meets specific requirements and, thus, is qualified for a job position. Credentials vary in content, length, cost, and type of assessment.

CV Example - Marketing  - Google Ads Search certificate

Professional training 

On a CV, this section showcases relevant training, enabling employees to perform job duties optimally. It is usually an employer-provided program that can be obtained in-house or externally. Keep in mind that adding a photo on a CV in the UK job market is prohibited. For more details, read a photo on your CV - to be or not to be?

CV Example - Strategic Management edX - professional training

Examples of online courses to boost your CV

Select those courses and certificates that would boost your CV with relevant skills and knowledge. Examples of platforms with online free courses to boost your CV:

Factors to consider when choosing a course or certifications:

  • Short-term or long-term

  • In-person or online courses 

  • Accredited or unaccredited 

  • One-on-one tutoring or learning centre (~12+ students)

  • Difficulty level (beginner, intermediate, advanced) 

What are benefits of adding courses and certifications?

Courses and certificates on a CV support your main sections by providing insight into your personality, work ethic, and capabilities. Keep in mind that it is only worth adding if they enrich your CV and increase your chances of landing a job interview.

  • Serves as an additional boost or verification, making you an expert in a specific subject or field.

  • Shows your interest or passion for learning a new profession or skill set.

  • Displays your dedication to taking the time to do your research while showcasing why you are the right person for the job.

  • Provides more insight into your personality and motivation. As such, it will mention potential talking points that might come up in an interview.

  • Advantageous for candidates with little-to-no work experience or if you’re changing careers, it showcases your willingness to learn.

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Examples of courses and certifications on a CV

We realise that adding courses and certificates to a CV can be a tedious process. That's why our experts at CVMaker have designed CV examples featuring courses and certificates to guide you. This section features multiple examples while taking into consideration the different naming conventions and ways of displaying this information.

Student CV courses and certifications

MA Strategic Communications, King’s College London, 2021-2022

  • Relevant courses: Strategic Communications (SC): Theory and Concepts, Applied SC, Audience and Population Behaviour & Influence, Introduction to Macroeconomics, Management Accounting, Statistics for Economists, Organisational behaviour. Dissertation:  Brand Awareness and Integral communications.

BSc Marketing, Bristol University, 2018-2021

  • Relevant courses: Markets and Marketing, Communications,  Issues in Consumer Marketing and Innovation, Project Management, Digital Marketing, Brands and Cultural Strategy, Consumption and Consumer Behaviour.

Human Resources CV courses and certifications

Certificates

Behavioural Interviewing Certification, KeenAllignment, 2020

General Industry Safety & Health Training, Occupational Safety and Health Center, 2019

Support Worker CV courses and certifications

Professional Training

Certified Nurse Assistant, American Red Cross, 2022

Courses & Certificates

First Aid (Level 2), Pro training Certificate, 2020

Care certificate, NHS, 2020.

Waiter/Waitress CV courses and certifications

Food safety credential, Certified Professional-Food Safety, 2022

Restaurant Waiter Training, Udemy, 2021

If you are applying for a waiter/waitress role, you could have possibly completed a culinary course. Feel free to include this on a CV if you don’t have anything else to showcase. This kind of course demonstrates your interest and knowledge of food.

Administrative Assistant CV courses and certifications 

Courses and Certificates

MBA Essentials, London School Of Economics (CPD-certified), 2021

  • Ten weeks course featuring business core pillars: strategy, finance, and people

CPD: Executive PA, 2019

Sales Manager CV courses and certifications 

Professional Training

Sales Management Training, Hubspot Academy, 2020

Courses

Sales Management Online Course, Great Learning, 2019

Nurse Support Worker CV courses and certifications 

Courses and Certificates

Trauma-Informed Care CEU course, Nurse.com, 2021

Nursing Professional Development Certification (NPDC-BC), ANCC, 2022

Developer CV courses and certifications 

Data Analytics, Google Academy, 2021

Data Structures & Algorithms: Deep Dive Using Java, Udemy, August 1, 2021

Project Manager CV courses and certifications 

Agile PM 301, Agile Project Management Academy, 2022

Scrum: the Basics, LinkedIn Learning, 2021

Marketing specialist courses and certifications 

Google Analytics certificate, Google Academy, 2021

Email marketing certificate. Hubspot Academy, 2020

French & English CV Example - Courses and Certifications

English B2, IELTS, 2022

  • Test score: 8/9

French B1, DALF, 2021

  • Test score: 93/100

German C1, DSH, 2020

  • Test score: 80%

Read more on how to add language on a CV. They are essential skills for any job. Hence, if you are multilingual or have completed a language course, consider adding this to a separate 'Languages' section.

Key takeaways

Whether you’re on the lookout to acquire new skills or boost your chances of landing your dream job, upskilling is a must. See additional tips on how to make your certificates and courses stand out and what to avoid.

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DOs

  • Keep it brief, persuasive, and concise.

  • Place them in descending chronological order, starting from the most recent.

  • Include core information (see the must-have and optional sections above).

  • Use certified courses from recognised and established institutions.

  • Include keywords from the job post to identify and match key ATS criteria.

  • Craft your job-specific CV first and then include appropriate certificates.

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DONTs

  • Write lengthy course descriptions;

  • Use outdated courses and certificates.

  • Include irrelevant or generic courses.

  • Use unrecognised or unofficial courses;

  • Place courses in random order.

  • Exaggerate or lie about your certifications.

  • Include a long list of courses and certificates that are irrelevant.

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Updated September 28 2022

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