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List Expired Certifications on Your Resume — Yes or No?

List Expired Certifications on Your Resume  — Yes or No?

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Acquiring a certification means that you had taken the time to learn a skill and received tangible proof of having done so.

A certified potential employee is of particular interest to employers, as this means that the company won’t have to pay for that particular training.

If a certification is expired, does it still hold enough weight to be listed on a resume?


“Should you List an Expired Certification on a Resume?”

Expired certifications should not be listed in most circumstances. Certifications which have expiration dates usually expire for a reason, as the relevant knowledge may change after a period of time. If a company specifically asks, however, you may briefly refer to an expired certification.


What is the difference between a certification and a certificate?

Knowing the difference between certifications and certificates is an important distinction, because each have slightly different rules when listing them on a resume.

Both are sometimes set to expire after a few years, but this article will be focusing on certifications. Here are the differences:

What is a certification?

A certification can be thought of as a mastery over a certain subject or skill. Certifications are usually more specific, and sought after by employers of relevant fields. Examples include CFA certifications, Six Sigma certifications, CPR certifications, and so on.  

What is a certificate?

A certificate is typically based on learning outcomes such as education or specialty courses. It includes mainly classroom-based knowledge on a subject and results in the award of a certificate such as a diploma, or degree of completion.  


When should you not include an expired certification on a resume?

In general, expired certifications should not be listed on a resume. They do not show that an employee is any more worthy than any other applicant, thus making this information irrelevant. 

Always check the job ad before deciding whether or not to include an expired certification on a resume.

If an employer has it in the “requirements” section, you should not include details of an expired certification, because you do not meet the requirements at this moment. 

If an employer does not detail the certification in the job ad, then do not mention your expired one. The employer is not interested in certifications that you once held, they are interested in your skills and qualifications as of now.

Try adding things you are working on in the present, such as a current internship!


When should you list an expired certification on a resume?

Expired certifications should only be listed when an employer specifically details that certification in the job ad under “preferred skills” or “desired skills”. 

If an employer lists a certification in this way, then it would be a good idea to mention that you held this certification in the past.

This shows that you had it once, and it would likely be simple for you to renew it. 

It also shows that you have experience in the field that they are hiring for, perhaps more than a person who never had the certification in the first place. 

If you are currently in the process of renewing or plan to renew a certification in the near future, it could be listed on a resume.

However, this still only applies if it is specified in the job ad. 


“How to List an Expired Certification on a Resume”

The way in which things are worded on a resume is just as crucial as the actual skillsets. Explaining the experiences which led you to obtaining a certification is particularly important when the certification is no longer valid.

Expired certifications can be listed in the experience section or in the certifications section. The experience section allows you to expand on the skillset that came with it, whereas the certifications section is only appropriate if you plan to renew the certification.


How to list an expired certification in the experience section

Because expired certifications may come off as a negative on a resume, you need to format it in a way that draws attention off of the expiration date.

Gaining that certification took knowledge and skill, so these things are what your resume should expand on… not the specific certification itself.

It is best to restructure your resume to include the skills which you gained from becoming certified, rather than including the certificate with the word “expired” next to it. 

Detail what you are now able to do, and the experiences that you had while utilizing those skills.

This can be done like the following when written in the experience section. In the case of an expired CPR certification:


Mountain Gymnasium – Swimming Instructor (12-2014 – 4-2016)

  • Independently watched over groups of up to 30 swimmers of all ages
  • Coached daily swimming classes for beginners to advanced students
  • Maintained and utilized the knowledge of proper CPR techniques as needed

Notice how the word “expired” is not once mentioned in the example. The employer now knows you have experience in CPR, and this expired certification has become an asset on your resume.

Keep in mind, however, you should never write anything that would make a company believe you still hold this certification.


How to list an expired certification in the certifications section

If you are in the middle of renewing or plan to renew an expired certification, you may list it on a resume.

This is true only if an employer specifically asks for said certification!

In the same way, you would not typically list a future job on a resume, you would not usually list an unfinished accomplishment. 

When listing a certification, list the date as the date acquired. In the case of an expired certification, list the range of dates from start to finish.

You should always include the phrase “renewal in progress” to show that you are actively working on it.  

This would look like the following:


  • Servsafe Certification(4-2014)
  • CPR Certification – Renewal in progress (2012-2014) 

The very bottom line is to always make sure the certification is relevant.

An expired certification (even a renewal in-progress certification) runs the risk of looking bad to an employer, so only list it if an employer asks about it.

Otherwise, an employer may certainly wonder why an expired license was worthy of being on your resume… perhaps you had no better skills to include?

Do not give them the opportunity to consider it!