Many students who don't finish high school the traditional way opt to take the General Educational Development (GED) test to receive a GED diploma or certificate. Students must earn a passing score of 145 out of 200 on each of the four components of the exam to earn a high-school equivalency GED. Students who score between 165 to 175 are rated as career- and college-ready, and a score above 175 may earn you some college credits.
Once you have earned your GED, you can list it in the education section of your resume, and include it on job applications in place of a high school diploma.
What Is the GED?
The GED consists of a series of tests for individuals who have not graduated from high school. The tests measure proficiency in science, mathematics, social studies, and reading through language arts at the high school level. A GED is also known as a high school equivalency degree.
The GED credential certifies that individuals have the knowledge and skills equivalent to that of a high school graduate. When a person passes the GED, they receive a GED diploma or certificate which equates to a high school diploma. You can learn about the GED, learn about study options, register to take the exam on the GED website, and request a transcript if you have already earned your GED.
Either the GED or your state department of education issues the diploma, depending on when you graduated. If you already have a GED and need a copy of your certificate, it can be ordered from the GED site or your state department of education.
Increasing Employment Options With a GED
For job seekers who haven't graduated from high school, completing the GED can show employers that you have the same credentials as a high school graduate. You can list your GED on your resume and job applications, just as you would list high school, college and other relevant classes, and continuing education courses.
State Equivalency Exams
Some states have their own equivalency exams. For example, California has the California High School Proficiency Exam (CHSPE) for high school students in California who wish to leave high school early. Students who pass the CHSPE receive a certificate of proficiency from the State of California. A CHSPE certificate legally equates to a California high school diploma.
GED vs. High School Diploma
Most U.S. employers accept the GED credential as equal to a traditional high school diploma. In general, most employers in private industry and government, as well as admissions offices in colleges and universities, accept a GED certificate or diploma as they would a high school diploma.
You can join the military with a GED, but the requirements are more stringent than for candidates who have graduated from high school.
It's important to list your GED on your resume if you haven't attended college. It shows the employer that you have the same credentials as a high school graduate.
How to List a GED on Your Resume and Job Application
You can list your high school equivalency certificate or diploma on your resume in the education section. It will replace the standard listing for the high school from which you graduated. Examples include the following:
- General Educational Development Certificate
- General Educational Development Diploma
For Work in Progress
If you are still working on the GED and haven't yet obtained your certificate or diploma, you can list your GED in progress:
- General Educational Development Diploma (currently enrolled)
- General Educational Development Diploma (in progress)
How to List a California Certificate of Proficiency
List a California "Certificate of Proficiency" on your resume in the following format. Use this style for any other special GED equivalency. Begin with the appropriate abbreviation and spell out all of the words inside a set of parentheses:
- CHSPE Certificate (Certificate of Proficiency from the State of California)
When You Don't Need to List a GED
If you have graduated from college or are attending college after earning your GED, you don't need to list your GED on your resume.
You only need to include your college education in the education section of your resume:
- If you don't have significant work experience—otherwise you don't need to list education on your resume
- If you don't have continuing education or work experience to include on your resume, in which case you should list your GED in the education section
- If you need to list your GED diploma on job applications
The Value of a GED
It's important to get your GED if you didn't graduate from high school. A GED will give you a certificate that counts as a high school diploma, and it serves as your path to more options as you join or continue in the workforce.
- Many employers seek applicants with at least a high school diploma or GED, even for entry-level positions.
- Apprenticeship programs typically require apprentices to have graduated high school or to have a GED to be considered for the program.
- Most colleges require applicants to have a GED or a high school diploma.
Without a GED or high school diploma, it will be difficult to find decent employment. It's especially hard when there is a lot of competition for the jobs available.