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Certifications to Advance Your Communications Career

By Melania Toczko

The communications field can be pretty cutthroat at times. Securing internships, fellowships and full time positions can be difficult when you’re in the process of finishing up a degree. Employers look for leadership experience on top of relevant coursework and volunteering, but sometimes even those experiences aren’t enough to land your dream job. Many communications students struggle to make their resumes stand out.

However, free or low-cost online certifications offered by various agencies and communications software companies can help you differentiate yourself from other applicants. Here is a list of communications-related certifications to help you build up your skills.


HubSpot and HubSpot Academy need no introduction. The inbound marketing and sales company offers plenty of free online courses in email marketing, social media management and design among plenty of other subjects. HubSpot Academy also offers plenty of non-certification courses in Microsoft Excel, YouTube and search engine optimization. For years, HubSpot Academy has been a great resource for students to supplement their marketing and communications coursework.

Image via Hootsuite


Hootsuite is a leading social media management platform used by plenty of companies and media agencies to maintain their online presence. This social media dashboard allows organizations to access direct messages and public posts across platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest. Knowing how to use Hootsuite and other social media management tools like Sprinklr, Sprout Social and Buffer is an essential skill for most communications professionals.

If you haven’t been able to use Hootsuite at your job or internship, Hootsuite Academy has got you covered! Hootsuite Academy is Hootsuite’s learning and professional development platform. It offers multiple certifications for those seeking to advance their skills in social media advertising, marketing and strategy. Although most courses come with a hefty fee, some are completely free when you use Honey at checkout.

Muck Rack

Muck Rack is a platform that publicists use to track the news, build reports and reach out to journalists with pitches. Unlike similar platforms like Cision and Meltwater, Muck Rack currently offers two free certification courses.

Muck Rack Academy allows students to sign up for two certification courses: “Fundamentals of Media Relations” and “Fundamentals of Social Media.” In the former, public relations superstar Michael Smart walks participants through ways to build relationships with journalists and properly create email pitches. In the latter, communications professor and speaker Sree Sreenivasan describes techniques to boost social media engagement and maintain a company’s digital footprint. Both courses give students a valuable overview of Muck Rack software.

Image via Muck Rack

Adweek’s Institute for Brand Marketing

Adweek is a weekly American advertising trade publication with a massive presence in the communications world. The virtual magazine is a great resource for advertisers, publicists, journalists and marketers alike to get an idea of trends and upcoming events in the advertising world.

Adweek recently launched a collaboration with IBM Watson Advertising to create the Institute for Brand Marketing certification. The certification gives participants access to a wide array of complementary courses that enable marketers to brush up on their skills. All you need to do to enroll is create an account on Adweek’s website.

PR Council Agency-Ready Certificate

Last year, the PR Council’s Agency-Ready Certificate program took the public relations academic community by storm. Aimed at undergraduate and graduate public relations students as well as recent graduates, the course offered aspiring publicists an opportunity to sharpen their skills after many internships were cancelled due to COVID-19.

Nearly 2,000 students across the United States completed the certification program last year. This year, the program is back and better than ever. Live webinars are scheduled from June 7 to July 30, but students will be able to complete coursework until August 6. Registration for this program closes in late spring, so be sure to sign up soon!

Image via PR Council

Certified ANA Marketing Student (CAMS) Certificate

The Association for National Advertisers is offering students interested in pursuing careers in marketing an opportunity to participate in a certification program of their own. The CAMS program promises to give participants an inside look at customer-centric techniques and digital, data and analytics training.

The certification will take approximately 17 hours to complete. The program currently requires a special access code at registration and is available to select universities and students only. To reserve a spot in the program, register by May 25 on ANA’s website.

There are plenty of ways to build your resume and acquire crucial communications skills recruiters look for in easy and accessible ways online. Be on the lookout for additional opportunities to strengthen your understanding of the communications and media world.


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