Becoming a Certified Bookkeeper: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Learn how to become a certified bookkeeper. Research the education and career requirements, licensure and experience required for starting a career as a certified bookkeeper.

Do I Want to Be a Certified Bookkeeper?

Bookkeepers keep track of financial records for companies and organizations. In order to ensure that financial statements are updated and accurate, they must understand how to use spreadsheets and database software programs. The financial statements will include expenditures, debts, receipts, accounts payable and receivable, invoices and profits. Travel may be involved for those who work for multiple concerns. Depending on the position, overtime hours might be required at certain times of the year.

Job Requirements

A high school diploma is the minimum educational requirement for such a position. However, those who want to pursue formal training also have the option to enroll in either a certificate or associate's degree program. Certification for experienced bookkeepers is available through the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers. The table below includes the requirements to become a bookkeeper.

Common Requirements
Degree Level High school diploma**
Certification Certification will demonstrate a bookkeeper's knowledge and skills in the field*
Experience Bookkeepers must have two years of experience to be eligible for certification*
Key Skills In addition to math and basic computer skills, bookkeepers need to be very detail-oriented**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS); ** (August 2012)'

Step 1: Acquire a High School Diploma

A high school diploma is the minimum educational requirement needed in order to become a bookkeeper. While enrolled in high school, a prospective bookkeeper needs to take courses related to mathematics, computers, accounting and English; this will lay the necessary groundwork to pursue training at the next level or find employment.

Success Tip

  • Consider a certificate or associate's degree program. Bookkeeping programs are available at the certificate and associate's degree level. These programs will teach students how to record costs, value inventory, calculate depreciation, analyze financial statements and use software programs. Courses will cover topics in QuickBooks, Microsoft Excel, bookkeeping, business math and payroll administration.

Step 2: Look for Employment

After being hired, employers often provide an extensive job training process with new bookkeepers. Paired up with an experienced bookkeeper, new employees will observe work policies and learn how to perform the necessary operations associated with bookkeeping. Each employer will have different policies or methods for conducting work, so it is important that bookkeepers learn how the work is performed.

Step 3: Attain the Certified Bookkeeper Designation

To acquire the Certified Bookkeeper (CB) designation through the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers, applicants must have two years of bookkeeping experience. Bookkeepers need to follow the code of ethics set in place by this organization and pass an examination to earn certification. The examination to become a Certified Bookkeeper is divided into four parts. There are preparation courses available online and at colleges to prepare bookkeepers for certification.

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