Purpose of this Section:

To give an employer a useful overview of your academic history

The Basics of this Section

This should be a quick and easy section for an employer to read and understand. They likely won’t spend a lot of time on this so you need to make sure that the most relevant information is easy to find and understand.

Consider the proportion of space an advert has used to talk about the educational requirements and use that as a guide to how long this section should be. Unless the advert has used a lot of time and details to describe what they’re looking for, they’re probably much more interested in your skills and professional experience.

Match that interest with your level of detail.

There should be a separate entry for each institution / course, organised in reverse chronological order (i.e. starting with the most recent, and moving back).

Don’t organise by “highest qualification first” or “most relevant” course first. Employers are typically using this section, along with the employment history, to create a mental timeline of you. If you do anything other than reverse chronological order, you are making this more difficult for them. No one likes extra work… and no one appreciates people who give them unnecessary work.

What to Include

Each entry should contain:

  • The full institution name
  • Your dates of attendance
  • Course title and grade for each course
  • Details of any relevant modules or projects (but only if they help to show you match an employer’s requirements)

If secondary/high school is your highest level of education, you should include that. If you have a Bachelor’s level degree or higher, you don’t need to include your secondary/high school details.

If particular elements of your course are directly relevant to the skills and knowledge the advert is looking for, you might include details. For example, including module, topic or project titles. This is particularly important if you have an industry-relevant element that isn’t obvious from the official course name.

If it’s not directly relevant, skip all the additional details. For example, you might have a masters in an unrelated subject – just listing the course title, dates, and institution is enough – don’t add extra details, no matter how much you enjoyed it or how proud you are of it.

If you’re moving from a different industry (or applying for a more specialised position) and are taking a course to reskill to do so, be sure to include that in your Education section as soon as you start. This will let the employer see the type of knowledge you have that supplements your work history in a different area. You don’t need to wait until you’ve completed a course to include it, just make sure the dates make it clear it’s ongoing.

Employers have previously told us that candidates taking the initiative to equip themselves with the appropriate knowledge shows a willingness and enthusiasm that they like, and will definitely put you ahead of other candidates who haven’t done so.

How to Format this Section

As always, formatting is important.

An employer is likely only using this section to tick a couple of specific boxes and assess whether you meet any essential education requirements (high school level education, BSc, etc)

So be consistent to make this section easy to skim through quickly.

For example, if you’re underlining institution names and putting course titles in bold, do it for all of them. And use bullet points as a way to clearly distinguish between different entries without using additional empty line breaks.

Example 1

  • 2018-2020 BSc Manufacture of Medicinal Products (GetReskilled & TU Dublin)
  • 2017-2018 Level 7 Certificate in eValidation (GetReskilled & TU Dublin)
  • 2016-2017 Level 7 Certificate in eBioPharmaChem (GetReskilled & TU Dublin)

Example 2

2020 – Conversion Course into Pharmaceutical Manufacturing : GetReskilled

  • Certificate in Manufacturing Safe Medicines (covering topics including …)

1995-2001 – Leaving Certificate : Main Street High School

Example 3

  • Certificate in eBioPharmaChem (GetReskilled & TU Dublin) – 2020
    • Fundamentals of Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Technologies
    • Commissioning & Qualification of Equipment and Systems
    • Chemistry for API’s
  • BA in Business Management 2:1 (XYZ University) – 2011-2015

What About Workplace Training and Courses?

People love to list out all the workplace training and courses they’ve completed (often in an “Other Courses” section) but always consider whether this is good use of the space.

If your previous roles are from the same industry then, by all means, take the time and space to show your additional training – these will be meaningful and directly relevant to the employer.

If your previous experience is from a different industry though, only include training that would be useful or relevant to the new role, or show development of transferable skills in some way.

Every single line of your CV should be working hard to demonstrate to an employer that you are a good fit for the role – don’t lose space or dilute that message with unnecessary details.

Make sure every entry in an “Other Courses” section has a date. If you’re worried about putting a date because you’re worried your knowledge will look dated – again take a step back and consider whether you should include it at all.