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10 Free Certifications for High School Students

If you’re an ambitious high school student looking to add to their CV, you might want to opt for a certification! Certifications are a fantastic way to not only beef up your resume but also to show potential colleges (and employers!) your commitment to ongoing education and specialization in particular areas. Whether it's learning new skills or exploring new topics, certifications can provide you with a structured way to learn and prove your abilities in a tangible form. 


What is the deadline to complete these courses?

The great thing about these courses is that you can start and complete them at your own pace! While you will often receive a syllabus that offers a recommended plan to follow, such as which lessons to learn every week, these courses will most likely be self-paced. Therefore, there is no fear of deadlines that will be holding you back as you embark on your learning journey. 


Who is eligible to receive these certifications?

While each course may have a specific target audience in mind, the beauty of the Internet lies in the accessibility of information. Anyone can receive a certificate if they put in the time and effort to learn the material. Do note that obtaining a certificate for your course might come at an additional cost, but these are minimal (with financial aid options at times) and worth it for the addition to your college application, resume/CV, or LinkedIn profile. 


How can I list my certifications on my resume?

Here are a few steps you can follow to highlight your certificates on a resume:

  1. Create a section for certifications after listing your education. It helps to compile your certifications separately from the rest of your resume, especially if you have multiple awards.

  2. Include the certification's title with the host organization after it. For example, if you took the Harvard introductory computer science course, you may say: “CS50's Introduction to Computer Science, Harvard.” 

  3. Add the date you earned it or when it expires if you completed the course, or the date you're scheduled to obtain it if you're in the middle of the class. Going back to the example above, you may say: “CS50's Introduction to Computer Science, Harvard – earned in Aug 2023.” 

  4. List the skills and knowledge you gained from the course if you have enough space at the end of your resume. For example, under the certification, you may write: “Relevant skills: Python, data structures, algorithms.”


10 Free Certifications for High School Students


Offered by: Amazon Web Services, DeepLearning.AI


The "Generative AI with Large Language Models" course on Coursera provides an in-depth exploration of the cutting-edge technology behind AI models like ChatGPT. The course is structured around a series of video lectures, hands-on projects, and quizzes that aim to solidify the learners' understanding of generative AI concepts. For example, the modules cover important concepts like Generative AI use cases, project lifecycle, fine-tuning and evaluating large language models, and reinforcement learning and LLM-powered applications. This beginner-friendly course culminates in a certificate of completion, which learners can add to their resumes or LinkedIn profiles to showcase their newly acquired expertise. The course is designed to be accessible for those new to the field, making complex topics approachable and understandable.


Offered by: Hubspot


The Inbound Marketing Certification course by HubSpot Academy offers a comprehensive dive into the strategies and tools essential for effective inbound marketing. Structured through video lectures, practical exercises, and quizzes, the course covers topics such as content marketing, social media strategy, and lead nurturing. This certification is designed to provide learners with both foundational knowledge and actionable skills. Upon completion, participants receive a HubSpot Academy certification, a recognized credential that can enhance a resume or professional profile.


Offered by: Yale University


The "Essentials of Global Health" course on Coursera is a broad introduction to the critical elements of global health, including key challenges and potential solutions. This curriculum spans several modules that address topics such as health determinants, global disease burden, and health systems – which have become deeply relevant after the COVID-19 pandemic. You’ll be sure to learn the healthcare infrastructure of low and middle-income countries and how health matters are affected by global interdependence.The course is aimed at those new to the field, providing an accessible yet thorough education in global health. Participants who successfully complete the course can earn a certificate of completion, showcasing their knowledge in this vital area.


Offered by: University of Michigan


As the name suggests, "Programming for Everybody (Getting Started with Python)" offers the fundamentals of programming using Python, one of the most versatile programming languages. The course structure includes video lectures, practice exercises, and quizzes to help consolidate the basic concepts of variables, conditional execution, repeated execution, and functions. If you have no prior programming experience, then this course is highly accessible and provides a gentle introduction to coding. Participants who complete the course can receive a certificate of completion, which serves as proof of their new coding skills and foundational knowledge in Python programming.


Offered by: Google


The Google Cybersecurity Certificate, available through Google's Grow with Google initiative, is a pillar in foundational knowledge and skills in cybersecurity. The course includes a mix of video lectures, readings, and hands-on labs to ensure practical experience in areas such as network security, system administration, and security protocols. This program is structured to build competencies from the ground up, making complex cybersecurity principles accessible to those new to the field. Upon completion, learners earn a certificate that can bolster their credentials for entry-level cybersecurity roles, underscoring their preparedness to protect organizations against digital threats.


Offered by: IBM


The IBM Data Science Professional Certificate is an extensive program that trains learners in the field of data science, covering topics from Python programming and data analysis to machine learning and visualizations. This comprehensive certificate program is structured into a series of interconnected courses that include video tutorials, peer-reviewed assignments, and hands-on projects using real data sets. This program adopts a step-by-step approach to mastering the necessary skills needed for a burgeoning data scientist. Upon successful completion, participants receive a professional certificate from IBM, making this course ideal for those looking to start or advance their careers.


Offered by: The University of Toronto


The "Introduction to Psychology" is a comprehensive overview of the fundamental principles of psychology, exploring topics such as perception, communication, learning, memory, decision-making, persuasion, and motivation. Taking this class makes the field of psychology approachable and understandable without requiring prior knowledge of the subject. While some may doubt the importance of this course, knowing psychology can be a great supplement to your interactions with others and understanding how human behavior operates. Completing the course comes with a certificate of completion, demonstrating their understanding of basic psychological concepts and theories.


Offered by: Google


Google’s "Fundamentals of Digital Marketing" course introduces participants to the core aspects of digital marketing. This extensive course is composed of numerous modules that include interactive lessons, real-world examples, and end-of-topic assessments to ensure comprehension and retention. It covers a broad range of topics, from search engine marketing to social media basics and analytics. Upon successful completion, learners earn a Google Digital Marketing Certification, which is a valuable addition to any professional profile aiming to demonstrate expertise in the digital marketing field.


Offered by: Great Learning


"Excel for Beginners" equips newcomers with the essential skills needed to navigate and utilize Microsoft Excel effectively. This course is structured into concise modules that cover everything from basic functions and formulas to data manipulation and chart creation. Engaging video tutorials and practice worksheets are provided to enhance learning and application of the material, including cell referencing and basic functions in Excel. Upon completing the course, learners can obtain a certificate of completion to acknowledge their proficiency in Excel, making this course suitable for those looking to start from scratch and gradually build their competency in a user-friendly learning environment.


Offered by: Alison, Workforce Academy Partnership


"CompTIA A+ 1000 Part 1" is targeted towards individuals preparing for the CompTIA A+ certification, focusing on core technologies such as hardware, networking, and mobile devices. The course layout includes a series of video lectures, assessments, and interactive simulations designed to build foundational IT skills effectively. This preparatory course is structured to accommodate beginners, guiding them through complex concepts at a manageable pace. Upon completion, learners receive a certificate from Alison, affirming their readiness to tackle the CompTIA A+ exam, which is a crucial step for those pursuing a career in IT. By the end of the course, you’ll know key skills such as how to compare types of memory, understand hard drives and other storage devices, and compare the maintenance of mobile devices and laptop computers.


Our Thoughts

Gaining certifications, especially free ones, is an excellent opportunity for high school students to enhance their skills and add impressive credentials to their resumes. These certifications, available across a diverse range of fields, from digital marketing to data science, cater to both beginners and those looking to deepen existing skills. They provide structured learning paths, often with hands-on components, that help students not only grasp theoretical concepts but also apply them in practical settings. For students looking to expand their educational horizons, these courses represent a valuable investment in their future careers, enabling them to enter college or the job market with a solid foundation and a competitive edge.



One other option – Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you are interested in doing university-level research in STEM or other subjects, which can become a topic to talk about in your college application, then you could also consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.


Lydia is currently a junior at Harvard University, studying Molecular and Cellular Biology and Economics. In high school, she was the captain of her high school’s Academic Decathlon team and attended the Governor's School of Engineering and Technology. She aims to become a life sciences consultant after graduation. 


Image Source: IBM logo

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