11 Ways to Get Professional Certifications for Free

When you need to beef up your resume, or add value to the work you already do, a professional certification can go a long way toward improving your prospects.

Working through courses and earning certifications can demonstrate to an employer that you are motivated, hard working, and committed to ongoing learning. It demonstrates that you are committed to lifelong learning and professional development.

But certifications can be both costly and time consuming to achieve, and if you are unemployed or in desperate need of a raise, it may not be the best time to drop a bundle on education.

Lucky for you, there are ways to learn vital skills absolutely free of charge. (A few of the educational providers charge a small fee for issuing the certificate itself.) Following are 11 options to further your education without taking on debt.

1. Saylor Academy

Based in Washington, D.C., Saylor Academy is a non-profit organization offering more than 70 free online courses in 17 different areas.

All of the courses are self-paced, and you receive a free certificate of completion if you can pass your final exam with at least 70%. Just a couple of available courses include Business Law (133 hours), Principles of Marketing (95 hours), and Public Relations (133 hours).

2. Open2Study

If you don’t have a ton of time to spend on your certification, check out the Australia-based Open2Study program. It offers almost 50 free courses in conjunction with various Australian universities that take place over one month.

There are a variety of quizzes and assessments throughout the month; average at least 60% to receive your certificate of completion. A few options are Project Management, Writing for the Web, and Financial Planning.

3. Aquent Gymnasium

Aquent is one of the world’s largest staffing agencies, and they actively recruit people who have successfully completed any of their free online courses.

Primarily focused on digital, creative, and communications professionals, there are several self-paced Aquent Gymnasium courses.

Score 85% or higher on the final exam to receive your certificate. A few available courses include Modern Web Design, Coding for Designers, and JavaScript & jQuery Survival Guide.

4. Oxford Home Study College

UK-based Oxford Home Study College has a huge range of paid classes, but also offers 15 free online courses for which you can earn a certificate of completion.

There are no deadlines, time restrictions, or entry requirements for any of them, and course materials are provided by the college. Popular choices include Event Management, Customer Service, and Travel & Tourism, all clocking in at just 20 hours of course material.

5. Alison

Alison is an online learning platform that offers 800+ certificate courses in everything from Touch Typing to Fundamentals of Human Resources and Basic German Language Skills. Each course only takes a few hours to complete on average.

The courses are all free, but you will need to shell out a few bucks to get your formal certificate. If you’d rather not pay, you still get a Learner Record or Learner Achievement Verification for free upon successful completion of your course.

6. Google Partners Courses

Google offers comprehensive online training for many of their products, including Adwords, YouTube, and more.

If you are able to pass the test with at least 80% after completing the training modules, you get certified for a year. Marketers will especially appreciate Google Digital Garage for a certification in search engines and social media.

7. Hubspot

Hubspot offers many courses of benefit to marketers. Two that also provide certificates are the  Marketing Certification Course, which covers the basics of SEO, blogging, conversion analysis, and reporting, and the Inbound Sales Certification Course, which explains everything you need to know about sales strategy.

These certificates can make you attractive to startups and entrepreneurs looking for someone to help them grow.


The Emergency Management Institute, otherwise known as FEMA, can help out people who have emergency management responsibilities at work, such as first responders and EMS personnel.

The courses are also open to members of the general public who are interested in learning more about handling emergencies. A FEMA certification can be obtained after passing the online test.

9. Free Code Camp Certifications

Coding is a skill that is only growing in demand, and will make you more valuable to just about any employer. At Free Code Camp you can learn the basics of HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript, GitHub, among other technologies.

This training can lead to jobs in web development, software engineering, and back end engineering, as well as add value to work you already do in another field.

10. Microsoft Virtual Academy

Microsoft offers hundreds of free online courses of interest to IT professionals, from developers to database administrators. A few of the topics are Business Intelligence, Advanced Analytics, and Game Development.

Each of those topics is further broken down into multiple courses, and completion earns you a badge from Microsoft, rather than a traditional certification. (The badges are easily sharable, though.)

Microsoft does offer more traditional certifications, and the training is free, but you may have to shell out up to $100 for the certificate.

11. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

All of the programs we’ve discussed are Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs. They are courses that offer free job training from well respected universities on almost any subject you want.

Various courses provide different types of certificates, including a CA – Certificate of Accomplishment, a CC – Certificate of Completion, and VC – Verified Certificate.

The courses are free, but sometimes a nominal fee applies to actually receive your certificate. A few additional outfits that provide MOOCs include  CourseraUdacity, and edX.


Undertaking a new course of study can be time consuming, but it need not cost you a lot or even require changing out of pajamas.

The vast array of free online certificate courses available today puts continuing education at the fingertips of anyone with access to an internet connection and the drive to improve their skills.

Do you want a better job or a promotion? The only thing holding you back is you!