Everything in your CV should be designed to appeal to an employer. That includes the much-neglected education section and the qualifications that go in it.

Your academic qualifications can be the deciding factor in getting you shortlisted for a job. Especially if two candidates are equally matched in the areas of work experience and skills, then it’s your education that can make the difference.

After successfully completing your studies, you now need to list them on your CV. If you don’t then you can be missing a great opportunity to show potential employers why you’re the right candidate for the job. This guide will give you advice and tips on how to successfully integrate your academic achievements into your CV.

By: Iejaz Uddin – 5 June 2024


Page overview:

  • What are qualifications?
  • How to write qualifications on your CV
  • Where to put qualifications on a CV
  • Frequently Asked Questions about qualifications in your CV


What are qualifications?

They are official documents that show you have completed an academic, vocational or professional course. Many are achieved through enrolment on courses at school, college or university. People can obtain them through attending classes or independent study.

In the world of job hunting they can qualify an applicant for a specific role. That’s because some employers require certain qualifications as a minimum requirement for a vacancy. This makes them important to candidates in their search for work.

Enrich your CV and compliment your education section by mentioning you’ve graduated from a prestigious university, obtained excellent academic results or have professional qualifications that are required for the vacancy you’re applying to.


Difference between skills and qualifications

The main one between these two is that skills are an ability to complete a specific task. Skills can be learnt through work experience and general life.


Vocational qualifications

These demonstrate practical skills and industry knowledge. They are work-related qualifications that show prospective employers a candidate is qualified to do a job.

Vocational qualifications are designed to meet the specific needs of employers in areas such as construction, vehicle mechanics, driving, and labour etc.

Highlighting relevant certificates or licences gained through them is particularly crucial in getting entry level positions and apprenticeships. That’s because vocational jobs generally require training in specific skills rather than the academic study of GCSE’s, A levels or degrees.


Professional certifications

These are qualifications that are specific to a particular role or industry. If they are relevant to the job you are applying for then place these at the top of your education section, above everything else They can show tangible evidence of your expertise in sought after areas.


Professional training

Unlike degrees or diplomas these are typically employer-provided training programs that are obtained in-house or externally. Employers send staff of these to improve their performance. They can last from two days to two weeks and are usually added to an employee’s HR file.


How to write qualifications on your CV

The qualifications section of your CV should include your professional, vocational and academic qualifications. Although it does not contain much information, the way you structure it is just as important as what you write in it.

Keep your target audience in mind when giving details of your qualifications. Do this by identifying information of most value to a potential employer and focusing on that.

When writing about your qualifications, give the following details:

  • Name of the qualification
  • Relevant modules
  • Where you studied.
  • Grades you achieved
  • Awarding body
  • Study dates
  • Institution name
  • Certifications
  • Licenses


Tailor your qualifications to the job

Focus on those ones that highlight your knowledge in a particular area and provide evidence of your suitability for a role. For example, if you’re applying to an IT company, there’s no point in talking about any art qualifications.


Keep it short

Avoid information overload and keep everything concise. Unlike your skills or work experience which need to be quantified with achievements, your qualifications can be summarised with the grades you attained.



If you’ve achieved high grades and pass marks, then mention these. They can show that you’re a hard worker and achiever.  For instance, if you’ve earned marks of 80% for certain modules, dissertations or projects then put this down.


  • Gained an average pass rate of 74% in all bachelor’s degree modules.


Proofread it

After writing it all down, go over it to spot any mistakes.


Certificate dates

It’s important to include the dates in a certification that requires regular renewal.


What to exclude from your qualifications:

  • Short term courses.
  • Qualifications that are not relevant to the target role.
  • Courses or training that were taken a long time ago.
  • Online courses used to develop soft skills.


How to write degrees on your CV

Higher education provides an insight into your personality, work ethic, and capabilities. A degree can boost your career prospects and lead to many rewarding job opportunities. The three types of university degrees are: Undergraduate, Postgraduate and Ph.D.

Simply listing the bare minimum information isn’t enough, also tell them if you’ve an upper second-class upper honours or higher. You can also include dissertation topics and the titles of any student union or society positions you held.


  • Type of degree awarded
  • University name
  • Start and end date




2018 –2021

BA (Hons) Business Administration, 2:1

  • Relevant Modules: Accounting, Human Resources


How to write A levels on your CV

Under a subheading of ‘A levels’ list the subjects that you took in one line. In brackets after each subject give the grade you achieved. Place them in order of your best grades or the most relevant subjects first.



A levels:

Math (A), English (B), Physics (C), Geography (D)


How to write GCSEs on your CV

In the education section, under a subheading of ‘GCSEs’ list the subjects that you took in one line. In brackets after each subject give the grade you achieved. There is no need to give the name of the school you attended or the dates. Place them in order of your best grades or the most relevant subjects first.




Math (A), English (B), Physics (C), Geography (D)


Where to put qualifications on a CV

This really depends on their importance to the job you are applying for and where you are in your career.

Job seekers with years of work experience will place theirs towards the bottom of their CV. This is because their career history is stronger than their education.

However, recent graduates will go for a functional CV layout, where a candidate’s qualifications will be at the top of their CV just below the personal summary. This way the recruiter will see how you’ve used education to gain the key skills and technical knowledge needed to work for them. Also note that if you highlight your academic achievements in an effective manner, it can encourage the hiring manager to overlook your lack of work experience.


Putting them in a separate section?

You have two options, you can either post them in a separate section dedicated to qualifications or list them within the main education section. Most people place them in the education section, which is usually near the bottom on your CV.

If you have a separate section then have them under a relevant subheading, such as:

  • Academic qualifications
  • Professional qualifications
  • Vocational qualifications.


The order to list your qualifications

You have two options here, to either list them in order of relevance or by date.


By date

If you write them in reverse chronological order, then start with your most recent ones first and work backwards. That’s because employers want to know what you’ve been recently rather than in the past. This by the way is how most people do as it shows a consistent progression from one qualification to the next higher one.


By relevancy

Here you should list them in a descending order of your most significant ones at the top. Always prioritise accredited courses over those that have no awarding bodies.


Frequently Asked Questions about qualifications in your CV


Should I list a course if I’m still studying it?

This depends on its relevancy to the job you are applying for. If it is important to the role then you should include in progress qualifications, as it demonstrates your commitment to your professional development in that particular field or skill. This also applies to higher education like a degree. Which you should mention that you are taking even if you haven’t completed it. When giving the expected completion date, simply write ‘ongoing’ or use the anticipated end date.


Do I include a qualification that I never completed?

If you had to leave the course for a justified reason, then it’s worth including. Especially if the qualification is related to the vacancy, you’re after. Be truthful in explaining why you had to stop.

Here are some reasonable grounds for dropping out:

  • Financial issues.
  • Family commitments
  • Mental health problems
  • Felt course wasn’t right for you.


However, if you had to leave a course for any of the below reasons, they you should not mention it.

Unjustified reasons:

  • You lost interest
  • You were expelled from the course.
  • You failed a required test and had to leave.


What if my grades were poor?

Again, this depends on whether the subject you studied is relevant to the job you are applying for. If it is then it’s still worth mentioning in your CV. However, if the grades you received weren’t as good as what you expected and the qualification is not related to the vacancy, then don’t mention it.

Under no circumstances should you lie about your grades. You can easily be found out and this can lead to an instant dismissal if you were to get a job based on your supposed qualifications.


Should I list all my qualifications on my CV?

For seasoned professionals the short answer is no. That’s because their USP is their work experience and therefore they can be selective about their academic credentials. They can leave out unrelated or low level qualifications. Including everything will just take up to much space and not help in targeting a CV.

However, for school leavers and graduates the answer is yes. That’s because with little work experience, your education is going to be your strongest selling point.


It’s a good idea to always to include and postgraduate or undergraduate degrees on your CV, no matter what job you are applying for. They will confirm that you are a highly educated applicant, which is what every employer wants.