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 in bookkeeping.

Should I Become a Certified Bookkeeper?

Bookkeepers keep track of financial records for companies and organizations. To ensure updated and accurate financial statements, 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.

Career 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
Salary $36,430 (2014 BLS Median for Bookkeeping, Accounting and Auditing Clerks)

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. Certification for experienced bookkeepers is available through the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers. 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: Gain On-the-job Training

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.

Step 4: Continue Training and Education to Advance Your Career

Continued educational and vocational training in bookkeeping, accounting or business administration offers bookkeepers the opportunity to become accountants or auditors. Specializing in growing industries such as health care, insurance, hospitality or financial services also widens career opportunities.

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