Your education is an important part of your career development and deserves to be showcased on your resume. Just where it belongs on a resume and how it should be displayed, however, depends on your industry and where you are in your career journey. As you prepare your resume for your next job search, be sure your education section is well-formatted and ready to make the best possible impact.
Use a distinct, labelled education section to showcase your studies on your resume. Within this section, you can list all of the schools you have attended, your relevant degrees and diplomas, the dates of your attendance, and any other important information. List your degrees in reverse-chronological order, beginning with your most recent degree and working backwards.
There are a few ways you can display abbreviations in your Education section, and it is up to you to choose the best method for your resume. Whether you prefer “MA” or “Masters”, or “BA” or “Bachelor of Arts”, will depend on the resume template you are using and which works best with the rest of your resume.
The exact details you add to your education will depend on your industry, your level of academic achievement, and the specific job you are applying to. In general, however, there are a few items that you should always include. Among these are the name of the school, the degree you earned there, and either the date you graduated or the years you attended the school. A basic education entry can look like this:
University of Texas
BA Political Science
Required education details:
Additional information leaves more room for customization. The specific details you include should depend on what your goal is for your resume. For example, if you are still a student and do not have much work experience, you may want to include projects or coursework that is relevant to the job, like your research area or thesis topic. You can include your GPA, but only if it is sufficiently impressive: 3.5 or higher. You can also include the city or state your school was located in. A more detailed Education section entry may look like this:
Carleton University | Ottawa, Ontario
Bachelor of Arts, English (honours)
2010 - 2015
— 3.75 GPA
— Specializing in nineteenth century Canadian sonnets
Optional education details:
For most people, your Education section should come immediately after your Work History section. Though your education is important to emphasize and may be required by the job posting, it is usually less important than the work experience that you have attained in the time since finishing school. As long as you have a few years of work in your industry under your belt like most job-seekers, adding your education after your work experience is the best choice.
If you are a current student or recent graduate, however, your education might be the most impressive piece of experience you have to display and should be given higher priority. If you graduated very recently or are still pursuing a degree, your education can be placed at the top of your resume. If this is the case, be sure to include any academic achievements or relevant areas of study so your resume is as impressive as possible.
Just how prominent you make your education section depends in part on your industry as well. If you are writing an academic CV rather than a standard resume, your education should come first. Academic CVs are more focused on education, publications, and credentials, and thus should not begin with work experience. If you are looking for work in academia, be it teaching, research, or otherwise, be sure to write a CV as required by the position rather than a resume.
Generally, it is only necessary to include a high school education if it is the highest level of education you have achieved. If you have a diploma or degree from a post-secondary institution, that alone is enough to fill out your education section and your high school can be omitted.
If you have not attended post-secondary, however, it is customary to note that you have graduated from high school. Simply the name of the high school and the date you graduated is enough. If you completed your GED outside of high school, include this instead.
If you attended school but did not finish, you can note the name of the school and the dates you attended if the area of study is relevant to your application. You may also want to include specific projects and the credits you earned.
Simon Fraser University, 2014 - 2015
Chemistry, 50 credits earned
If you are still a student, note that your degree is still in progress and, if you like, include your expected graduation date:
Michigan State University, expected graduation 2021
Michigan State University
Bachelor of Science (In Progress)
Other licenses and certificates should have their own section in the resume. This is particularly true of skilled trades, where specific certifications are often required by the company. If you need a specific driver’s license, or a particular credential such as a forklift license, an easily identifiable Certifications section is your best bet.
Though your work experience will likely be the focus of your resume, your education is an important part of what makes you a great candidate. When you’re applying for jobs, it is important to ensure that your education section is suitable for your experience level and the role you are applying for. The right degree or diploma may be the thing that sets your resume ahead of the competition.
Ben is a writer and customer support specialist with 5 years of experience helping job-seekers create their careers. He believes in the importance of a great resume and the power of coffee.
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