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From the CLCC: How to List Your Credentials

from the CLCC Connection Newsletter December 2023

Have you ever wondered how to properly list your credentials behind your name? Or why your colleague might have certain credentials placed first on their email signature? This article will help break down some of the “alphabet soup” questions you may be curious about.

What are credentials and where do I include them?

Credentials represent important information about a person’s experience. This may include the education one obtains (e.g., B.A., M.S., Ph.D.) and/or the certifications one completes (e.g., CCLS). As a professional, some common areas for credential information include your email signature, business cards, and/or chart notes. A professional signature is also something you might find in writing a letter of recommendation, cover letter, or formal note on hospital letterhead. Therefore, it’s important to understand what to include behind one’s name, and in what order, to demonstrate expertise, credibility, and affiliations.

Does order matter?

The order of one’s credentials indicates information about that person’s experience. The general rule is to list credentials in the following sequence: permanent credentials, professional licenses, national certifications, and then additional certifications. Permanent credentials are educational degrees, whereas professional licenses are often state-issued (e.g., counseling, respiratory therapy). An example of a national certification would be one that all Certified Child Life Specialists hold—the CCLS credential. This certification would follow any licensure and degree on one’s signature. Additionally, if an individual holds any additional certifications, such as GC-C (certified grief counselor) then these would be added as well.

An example might look like:

Individual’s Name, M.A., LMFT, CCLS, CPST
Master of Arts, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Certified Child Life Specialist, Child Passenger Safety Technician

There are a variety of different certifications, so how does one know when to list a certain national certification before another?

A common example of two national certifications that people simultaneously hold are the CTRS credential (Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist) and the CCLS credential. When deciding to list CCLS or CTRS first, it is common practice to list the most relevant credential first. Therefore, if an individual is hired to work as a Certified Child Life Specialist in their current role, they may want to list the CCLS credential first.


Listing credentials behind your name is an important component of professional identity. Although the list may look different to everyone, there are some important things to remember:

1.      Always list your degree. A common misconception is that only advanced degrees should be listed on a signature (master’s or above). However, any degree earned represents your expertise and your experience. For example, if you have a Bachelor of Science (B.S.), make sure to include that alongside your CCLS credential!

2.      Do not misrepresent yourself. If you have not fully earned a certification, license, or degree, do not put it on your signature. Including things like (in progress), PhD (c), or (ABD- all but dissertation) are not accurate reflections of one’s earned credentials. Ethically, it is important to only include completed degrees, licenses, and certifications.

3.      Remain consistent. When listing your credentials, use the same punctuation throughout. If you put a period between letters for a Master of Science degree - “M.S.,” then utilize periods for all degrees. (This does not apply to CCLS which is not punctuated with periods.)

4.      Multiple credentials. If a CCLS has multiple credentials, it is up to the individual if they want to list everything behind their name or limit to the most relevant information. This can be helpful when trying to highlight expertise or qualifications to a current role or situation. This is often a personal preference based on each professional.

Child Life Profession