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Resume tips for skilled trades and vocational jobs

Uploading a resume can be a shot in the dark. Oftentimes, it feels like you’re submitting your list of highly cherished skills into a big unknown. But it doesn’t have to be an act that is without intention. Depending on the employer, if you’re applying for a skilled trades job, you may just fill out a web form – or, you’ll be asked to upload a resume. Compared to a “white collar” position, a resume for a vocational career will look slightly different and include other types of best practices.

Tie together education, certifications and training

For skilled trades and vocational careers, you may not be required to have an associate degree or higher, but you typically need a high school diploma or GED. Under your name and contact information at the top of your resume, list out your education, certifications and relevant trainings. Include your training provider, the course you took and if you earned any certifications. Include dates and license/certifications numbers, if available.

For example:

Education, Certifications and Training

  • Community College Workforce Alliance, NCCER Plumbing Level 1 (2023)

Attended 8-week training for Plumbing Level 1; taking certification exam March 2023

  • Community College Workforce Alliance, NCCER CORE (2022)

Attended 10-week training for NCCER Introductory Craft Skills; certification earned

  • Deep Run High School, diploma (2005)

Include a skills section

Most resumes nowadays have a skills section. For more administrative or professional roles, this is where you’d list software and technologies you know. But for a skilled trades job, this is where you could focus explicitly on the certifications you have, the skills you learned and tie them directly to the job you’re applying for. Make sure you look at keywords in the job description, and include the skills most applicable to you in your skills section.

For example:


  • Stick, TIG and MIG welding
  • Purge welding
  • Sheet metal layout
  • Drill press operation
  • Pipe bender operation

Remember resume basics

Whether you’re applying to be a fabricator, a heavy equipment operator, a manufacturing technician – or a nurse, teacher or medical coder, all resumes should follow a few simple basics.

  1. Include your contact information, and be sure your phone number leads to an appropriate voicemail inbox message.
  2. Keep everything to one page.
  3. Don’t include everything in your work history. If you worked retail for three months in between relevant jobs, don’t waste space. Instead, think about listing the jobs and experiences you have been a part of that are relevant to the job description.
  4. Read the job description and fill in your resume with key words that match the listed requirements. This could be specific responsibilities and/or skills and certifications.
  5. Do have someone proof your work. Spell check only goes so far. Having a friend read behind may save you from an embarrassing error (e.g. manger is different than manager, but both are correctly spelled).

When you train for an industry credential at one of Virginia’s Community Colleges, you not only have access to faculty, staff and coaches that can help you with your resumes, but you can also access the college’s career office for more help.

To get started, explore FastForward training where you live – or, reach out to your local career coach and get a conversation going.