Saturday, October 6, 2012

Easy Ways to Add to Your Resume – Many of them Free!

Often, students and career changers struggle to “fill out” their resumes. Lacking field experience is often their challenge.  I’ve collected my best tips here for adding to your resume with a variety of free and cost-money-but-worth-it resume enhancing activities. 

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Free Online Courses
Environmental Protection Agency Free Courses and Certification
Eppley Institute Free Park Management Courses
HAZWOPER Certification Courses
Wildlife Field Courses
Free or Low Cost Extension Service or NGO Offerings (rain garden workshops, etc.)

One of my favorite resume enhancers are the free online courses offered by FEMA.  Here are some of the better titles:  An Introduction to Hazardous Materials, Managerial Safety and Health, Hazardous Materials Contingency Planning, Coordinating Environmental and Historic Preservation Compliance, Overview of FEMA's Environmental and Historic Preservation Review, Introduction to Residential Coastal Construction, Introduction to Hazard Mitigation, Technical Writing, Building Partnerships with Tribal Governments, Introduction to Public-Private Partnerships, Applications of GIS for Emergency Management. Also, if you want to target positions that include emergency response, there are at least 20 courses that are essential to adding this knowledge to your resume. New courses are added several times each year:

EPA provides a lot of resources on its website. There are many watershed courses offered online through the EPA Watershed Academy page:
If you follow the guidelines on the following site, you can become “certified” by completing the EPA Watershed Management Certificate Program:    
EPA’s Air Pollution Training Institute offers a long list of air quality courses at no cost online:
To find self-study courses (meaning free online ones):
RCRA Training at your Desktop is found here:
There are other training webpages at EPA, however, some are in transition. If you spend some time using their search engine, you will likely find more free online courses in your specific area of interest.

The Eppley Institute provides online training courses in park and public land management, many of which are free. Some examples are Wilderness Management, Interpretation, Safety, and Leadership.

A key piece of advice is that if you decide to spend money on training, I highly recommend that you do it to obtain a marketable skill. One example is 24 hour or 40 hour HAZWOPER Certification.  This is a credential that is much desired in the hazardous materials field. Yes, it does cost a bit of money, but it does lend credibility to you and strengthens your resume. One vendor I have used is National Environmental Trainers:
This vendor also provides other training that is very useful in the environmental field. If this is your area of focus, these courses would be very helpful, as well.
If you are interested in fish and wildlife management, the Northeast Chapter of the Wildlife Society offers an outstanding Wildlife Field Course every year.  It will definitely help you gain the field experience you need and the instructors are outstanding!
Some universities also offer summer field courses. Here is one example:

Finally, don’t forget about local environmental organizations and your County Extension Office. They often hold free rain garden workshops, or dune restoration workshops, etc.  You may get a day of volunteer experience from their workshop, in addition to learning how to install a rain garden or plant dunegrass, but it’s all worth it to add these skills to your resume! 
Here are some examples:

I hope these suggestions are helpful! Please comment below if you have additional suggestions!

Dr. Carol A. Pollio


  1. I was wondering how to list these classes on a resume?

    1. I usually add them in the Education section under the degree.

      For example:

      B.S. Biology, Virginia State University, 128 credits, June 2012
      Relevant Coursework: Biology 101-102, General Ecology, Ornithology, Fish and Wildlife Management, Air Quality Management, Water Science.

      Hope that helps.