Providing an employee or student with a professional certificate offers a sense of accomplishment to the recipient. This could be a special award, a certificate of appreciation for an employee, or a course certificate for completing a program for a student.
Providing an award doesn’t need to be expensive. Several free certificate programs allow you to create a custom certificate with a beautiful design.
We cover five of the best certificate design tools—including certificate templates—to make awards that you can download, print, or share on social media. The design tools are easy to use and don’t require professional design skills.
But before we get into free online certificate makers, let’s explain what an online certificate maker is.
What is an online certificate maker?
An online certificate maker allows you to create a custom certificate. Whether you want a special gift certificate for perfect attendance, or a graduation certification for completing an online course, an online certificate maker can handle the job.
These programs typically come with printable certificate templates where you can add the information you want them to display.
Certificate creators are easy to use. They are high resolution, have text boxes where you can add text, and allow you to resize the certificate to fit your needs.
You can choose from a number of themes or start with a blank certificate and create your own. You can review several options to find the right template for your award.
The best tools for making certificates
People often wonder, “Can I create my own certificate?”
Yes! Several programs are available online that offer certificate templates. While these programs may offer different design elements, you should be able to find what you’re looking for. You can then save your designs as a JPG or printable version.
Most programs also offer tutorials to walk you through the design process.
Our list includes free and paid options to help you find the right tool for making certificates. If you want to make custom certificates or create several at once, you might opt for the paid version.
Otherwise, the free certificate generators can work fine for your special occasion.
Canva is one of the most robust certificate makers. The platform’s offerings include certificates of achievement, academic- and sports-related certificates, and more.
Canva has free and paid subscription options. And you only need to subscribe if a specific certificate or font listed under Pro catches your eye. The pro option is $119.99 for one user per year.
The Pro option allows you to create a brand kit so that you can use the same color scheme for all your media needs. It also allows you to resize your creations to fit different platforms. You can also remove the background of your photos.
The free version of Canva has several features that make this software a favorite among certificate creators:
- Create certificates by category, feature, format, subject, style, and color
- Over 250,000 templates for any occasion to get you started
- Special focus on all types of print media for business and education
- Collaborate on designs with others
- 100+ design types, so you’re not limited to generic certificates
Adobe Express focuses on asset creation for businesses, but it can also meet the creative needs of individuals. You can create professional certificates and other media, such as logos, invoices, and business cards.
Quick features allow you to create and edit certificates with ease. The software will even let you include a QR code—and you can make certificates on the go with the mobile app. Adobe Express has many video tutorials to get started.
Adobe Express offers free and paid subscription options. The free version is more limited in terms of available templates, fonts, royalty-free images, and editing, but a paid subscription is geared toward the average individual, teacher, or small business. The premium version is $9.99 per month for individual users.
Some available features offered by Adobe Express include:
- Thousands of templates available for your certificate needs with the free subscription plan
- The free version offers basic editing and photo effects that include filters, textures, and overlays
- Customize text and designed graphics to make your certificate your own
VistaCreate is a part of the VistaPrint family of business and social media marketing printing. VistaCreate offers highly customizable certificates.
Unlike other certificate generators, VistaCreate enables you to create your brand kit with the free version of the software. The free version also includes a brand logo and colors.
Like the other options discussed, you don’t need design skills to use VistaCreate. The platform has over 100,000 templates updated weekly. You can also start with a blank template to create your own design.
You can choose between a free and paid subscription plan. The paid plan is affordable for individuals or small businesses. The free plan has many excellent features, including a brand kit, 1 million photos, videos, and vectors, direct posting to social media, and more. The paid plan is $10 per month for individual subscribers.
You only need to pay a subscription if any of the 1 million images available on the free plan won’t work for your needs, if you need multiple brand kits, or if you want to use the background removal feature.
Some of VistaCreate’s best features are:
- A single brand kit with the free subscription
- Direct posting to social media with the free subscription so that you can show off awards easily
- Ability to use VistaCreate from your mobile device
Bannerbear integrates with platforms like Airtable, Zapier, and WordPress. The selection of certificate templates is much smaller than the other platforms reviewed in this article, but Bannerbear offers certificates in a high-quality vector format.
No design skills are needed to create beautiful certificates with Bannerbear. However, Bannerbear limits you to five certificates per day with a free subscription. You’ll also need the paid subscription to create many certificates or automate the process.
Bannerbear is a bit more expensive than other platforms—partly because it offers integrations that can help you generate certificates in bulk. Paid plans start at $49 per month and go up from there.
Some unique features of Bannerbear include:
- API integration for PDF and images to use the information for your certificate
- Ability to create certificates when connected to Zapier, Airtable, WordPress, and more
- Multilingual options where you can print certificates in other languages, such as Chinese, Japanese, and Arabic
Fotor has a free subscription that comes with a wide range of certificate templates to choose from.
However, the free plan only offers basic editing adjustments compared to a paid subscription, including basic photo effects and portrait touch-ups. Design resources are also limited to the free subscription plan.
Users can download certificates in JPG or PNG format. Fotor updates its stock photos and templates weekly.
The annual subscription price is less than $40. It can be worth paying for the service if you like the templates and fonts available. A paid subscription is required to access a PDF version of your certificate.
Features worth noting about Fotor include:
- Fully customizable certificates available with the free plan
- AI image generator allows you to turn any text into an image
- Stock photos and templates updated weekly
Tips for designing a professional certificate
From asset design to color schemes to spell checking, there are a number of required elements to complete a beautiful certificate.
What to include on a certificate
What elements make a certificate complete? Let’s take a look.
- Title. What is the certificate about? Is it a certificate of appreciation or a certificate to show the completion of a course? This is the title of your certificate.
- Presentation line. This can be as simple as “is presented to.” It ties the title to the recipient.
- Recipient. This is the name of the person receiving the certificate.
- From. This is the person or organization giving the certificate.
- Description. This provides a little more information about why the recipient is receiving the certificate. An example would be completing a specific course.
- Date. This is the date the certificate was presented to the recipient.
- Signature. Certificates typically include a line for the signature of the presenter.
Choose an appropriate color scheme
To create a professional certificate, choose an appropriate color scheme. For example, you might incorporate colors from your company’s brand kit.
The biggest thing is to choose a color scheme that doesn’t detract from the purpose of the certificate. You can keep things simple by using one or two colors.
Keep the layout simple and clutter free
A certificate layout should be simple and clutter free. A cluttered certificate with too much information or too many colors detracts from the purpose of the certificate.
It might be OK to be colorful if the certificate is for a child or is thematic in some way, but most professional certificates avoid excess use of color.
Use different fonts in moderation
Different fonts can add to the attractiveness of a certificate, but if too many fonts are used, it can create confusion and make the certificate appear unprofessional.
It’s OK to use a fancier cursive font for the title of the certificate to make it look more creative or formal. However, the recipient’s name, the information section, and the presenter’s name should be in a more professional, easy-to-read font, such as Times New Roman, Arial, or Helvetica.
Double-check the spelling of names
It would be very embarrassing for the presenter to hand over the certificate only to have the recipient discover their name is misspelled. Double-check the spelling of the names of both the recipient and the presenter.
Use a heavier paper stock when printing
The person receiving the certificate hopefully feels proud of their accomplishment! Make sure the certificate lasts by using a heavier paper stock when printing the certificate. This shows that you care about the recipient’s accomplishment too.
When and how to hire a designer
If you feel overwhelmed by the possible options for designing a print certificate, or need to create something more unique than a template can provide, consider hiring a graphic designer to help you out.
A graphic designer can help you choose an appropriate image, color scheme, and design elements for the occasion. Upwork has many graphic designers ready to take on your job and create quality work.
How much does it cost to hire someone for certificate design?
Possible rates for a graphic designer are wide-ranging due to the freelancers’ different experience levels and scope of work they normally take on. This variety of talent and costs means you’ll be able to find the right person to design your certificate, whatever the occasion.
You can find a great graphic designer for $15 to $35 an hour on Upwork.
How to find a designer for your project
Start by having an idea of what you want your certificate design to include.
With a thorough understanding of what you need from your designer, gather information on the various professionals available—focusing on the price point you’re interested in, the designer’s success rate, if they focus on corporate style designs, and what others are saying about them.
You can also post a job on Upwork based on the amount you think is fair for the needed work and have graphic designers bid on the job posted. If you go this route, you can review the background of each graphic designer you’re considering, as well as their job success scores, to ensure you’ll receive quality work at a fair price.
How to create an Upwork post for the job
Once you have an account created, creating your job post is easy. Follow the prompts and provide as much information as possible about what you’re looking for.
Select the appropriate category for your post, give it a title, and provide a description. Decide if you want to offer it at a fixed price or an hourly rate, and choose your dollar amount.
Upwork has a variety of graphic designers waiting and willing to help you with your certificate design. Give them a look and choose the graphic designer who meets your needs today.
If you’re a graphic designer looking for work, you’ll find some great opportunities for design jobs on Upwork.
Upwork is not affiliated with and does not sponsor or endorse any of the tools or services discussed in this article. These tools and services are provided only as potential options, and each reader and company should take the time needed to adequately analyze and determine the tools or services that would best fit their specific needs and situation. Prices are current at the time of writing and may change over time based on each service’s offerings.
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