Can You Get a Job With a Certificate of Achievement?

by Miranda Morley; Updated September 26, 2017
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Usually certificates of achievement are given to denote that you have completed a certain program or course of study. You can get a certification of achievement for doing anything from completing a knitting class at the local craft store to finishing an intensive tax preparation course. For this reason, whether a certificate of achievement will impact whether you can get a job is based on the type of certificate and the type of job.

Types of Certificates

Some certificates or achievements are legal or institutional designations that are required for certain jobs. For example, the Child Development Associate Credential is required for most jobs in early childhood education. Similarly, most schools require teachers to have a teaching certificate. Other certificates of achievement are educational designations. They indicate that you completed an academic program of study. For example, most colleges and universities offer undergraduate and graduate certificates in specialized areas like writing for technology or mentor training. Finally, some certificates of achievements are just formalities. They are often awarded by clubs or organizations as a memento of your experience in the program. For example, you might get a certificate of achievement if you finished a workshop with your scrap booking club or reading group.

Impact on Jobs

Academic certificates can significantly help you get a job, even if they are not required for the job. In fact, getting a certificate in an area that will better prepare you for a certain job is a great way to make yourself stand out among other candidates. For example, if you have a bachelor's degree in communications, but you want to apply at a fortune 500 company, a certificate in communications in business offered by a college or university can set you apart. Non-academic certificates, on the other hand, will not generally help you get a job. However, in some cases, they are worth putting on your resume. For example, if a nanny position advertisement states that a person with a background in arts and crafts is preferred, you may want to mention your certificates of achievement in scrap booking.

Listing on Your Resume

Usually, you can list relevant academic certificates in either the education or the honors and awards section of your resume. It is not necessary to list certificates that have nothing to do with the job you are seeking. Listing certificates in the education section can help you show an employer why an education that seems irrelevant is actually relevant. For example, it might not be readily apparent that communications degree prepares someone for a job in business. However, if your certification in business communications appears in the same section as your communications degree, you show your employer that you are, indeed, qualified for the position. If you were chosen out of a number of applicants for a select program, like a music symposium, listing the certificate in the honors and awards section emphasizes the fact that the entire program was an elite opportunity for which you were selected.

Discussing in the Interview

During the interview, discuss your certifications in such a way that you back up the claims you are making about your knowledge, experience or expertise. In the interview, it is appropriate to bring up certificates that you did not list in your resume. For example, if your employer asks you what experience you have in training, you should discuss your relevant experience as well as the certificate you have in employee training. In addition, you can even bring up non-academic certificates if the questions are right. For instance, if the employer tells you the job requires a creative person and asks what evidence you can show that you are a creative person, you can feel free to mention the number of poetry workshops you have completed, just make sure to explain how poetry translates to the work environment.

About the Author

Miranda Morley is an educator, business consultant and owner of a copywriting/social-media management company. Her work has been featured in the "Boston Literary Magazine," "Subversify Magazine" and "American Builder's Quarterly." Morley has a B.A. in English, political science and international relations. She is completing her M.A. in rhetoric and composition from Purdue University Calumet.

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