Dissecting the Patchwork of Resume Writing Credentials

Working with a credentialed and experienced resume writer can go a long way in helping you get noticed during your job search. If you’ve never worked with a resume writer before, it can be confusing if you don’t where or what to look for. A great starting point is finding someone who holds at least one resume writing certification, although you’ll find that most professional resume writers usually hold multiple credentials related to resume writing.

Why is certification important?

Certified resume writers offer countless benefits to you as the job seeker. A certified writer has presented his or her work for assessment to an expert panel of judges and meets a required set of standards established by leading resume writing organizations, providing you with a much-needed competitive edge in an over-saturated job market.

To maintain certification, a writer is required to meet the mandatory continuing education, membership, and renewal requirements of the affiliated organization(s) from where they received their certifications(s). Therefore, it’s in your best benefit to seek out a certified writer who is committed to staying up to date on the newest job search trends, hiring processes, and resume writing practices so that you can get into your next job faster with greater results.

There are multiple resume writing credentials available, each of which has their own set of standards. These credentials are awarded through 5 leading resume writing organizations: Professional Association of Resume Writers & Career Coaches (PARW/CC)National Resume Writer’s Association (NRWA)Career Directors International (CDI)Resume Writing Academy (RWA), and Career Thought Leaders (CTL). Each organization is dedicated to providing comprehensive training, support, and value-added resources that promote professional growth within the resume writing and career coaching industry.

If you’re looking to hire a certified resume writer, these organizations are a great place to start your search. You can search for writers by location, specialty, name, and certification (s). Many certified writers are listed in the database of these organizations, which can be helpful for learning more about a specific writer’s background and accessing his or her contact information and professional website. Additionally, using the databases on these affiliated resume writing organizations websites is also a great way to do some due diligence and check to make sure that the writers’ credentials are legitimate.

Below, I have listed some of the main certifications and their requirements in no particular order:

  • Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) – the CPRW is one of the most common resume writing credentials among certified writers and the first certification standard developed for the resume writing industry. Offered through the PARW/CC, a candidate must pass a timed examination, consisting of 4 modules that test a writer’s knowledge of the professional resume writing landscape, including job search technologies, resume trends, grammar, style, punctuation, and critical thinking skills involving challenging resume-related issues. The final module requires the writing and submission of a resume and cover letter, based on a hypothetical client, to an expert panel of judges.
  • Academy Certified Resume Writer (ACRW) – this credential is offered through the RWA and requires a significant financial investment and participation in an intensive training program. The program encompasses multiple assignments that cover resume strategy, writing and design, grammar skills, cover letter writing, content development, keyword and ATS optimization, and best practices related to resume writing. Candidates are also required to complete 3 independent learning programs, each of which incorporates a resume and cover letter assignment.
  • Nationally Certified Resume Writer (NCRW) – earning the NCRW credential requires completing a 2-part exam, including a timed, 1-hour proofreading assessment and the writing and submission of a resume and cover letter writing based on a hypothetical candidate profile. Before obtaining approval to take the exam, NCRW candidates must also provide proof of 10 continuing education units (CEUs), such as conference attendance and training and development, to demonstrate their commitment to the resume writing industry. This credential is administered by the NRWA, the only non-profit trade association for professional resume writers.
  • Certified Master Resume Writer (CMRW) – this master-level qualification, earned through CDI, requires candidates to submit a portfolio of 7 professional resume writing samples, 1 ASCII resume conversion, 2 cover letter samples, and a brief description for each that describes the project challenge, choices surrounding format and design, and the job seeker’s results (if known). CMRW candidates must also submit an essay outlining their philosophy and approach to resume writing and why he or she is qualified to be awarded the CMRW credential OR an article on a topic related to resume writing that demonstrates his or her knowledge and expertise.
  • Certified Resume Specialist (CRS+X) – the CRS+X, acquired through CDI, recognizes resume writers who are experts in writing resumes for professionals within a specific field or niche industry. To earn recognition as an industry specialist, a writer must submit 4 resume samples at different career-levels, showcasing their versatility and an essay that demonstrates the writer’s knowledge of that specific industry to an expert panel of resume writers. Currently, there are 20 areas of specialization available. Some examples include engineering and science (CRS+ES), IT (CRS+IT), and healthcare and medical (CRS+HM).
  • Certified Advanced Resume Writer (CARW) – The CARW is CDI’s first-level certification and requires a candidate to submit a sample of work for review to an expert panel of judges. If the sample passes approval from the committee, the writer can register for part 2. There are 4 parts total: initial sample submission and review, the creation of a resume and cover letter for 2 fictional clients, short essay questions on client information gathering, and a spelling, grammar, and critical thinking assessment. The writer must pass each module before proceeding to the next.
  • Certified Executive Resume Master (CERM) – a specialized credential offered through CDI that is awarded to writers who specialize in executive resume writing. Like the certified resume specialist credential, a candidate for the CERM is required to submit 4 resume writing samples to a panel of expert judges. In addition, the candidate must also undergo a competency review, covering a series of questions related to executive resume writing.
  • Master Resume Writer (MRW) – a writer who has earned the MRW credential, obtained through CTL, must possess a minimum of 5 years of paid resume writing experience, submit of portfolio of resume writing samples—5 for certified writers and 10 for non-certified writers—that demonstrates knowledge, expertise, and versatility in resume strategy, content development, formatting, and design. The candidate must also pass a 1-hour English language and grammar exam.

If you're interested in learning more about the different resume writing and career coaching credentials, please check out this more comprehensive list.

Scientech Resumes works with clients in all industries and career-levels, with a specialization in professionals looking to pursue or advance a career in a science, technology, engineering, medical, or mathematics field. I am dedicated to working with those who want to make an investment in themselves. I know you’re great at what you do. Together, we can get you where you want to go with greater resultsGet started today with a complimentary consultation!


  1. […] Certifications are a key indicator that the writer is committed to staying up to date on the latest resume writing trends and job search technologies, which is a major benefit for you as the job seeker. Certified writers must meet the mandatory membership, continuing education, and renewal requirements to maintain their certification(s). For a better understanding of the different resume writing credentials and what they mean, please check out Dissecting the Patchwork of Resume Writing Credentials. […]

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