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Career Information for a Degree or Certification in Bookkeeping

Training in bookkeeping typically covers record keeping, finances and business. Find out about the requirements of these programs, and learn about career options, job growth and salary info for bookkeeping graduates.

A degree or certification in bookkeeping can prepare you for a career as an accounting, bookkeeping or auditing clerk. After completing a degree program and gaining work experience, certification is available in bookkeeping through a number of organizations.

Essential Information

Individuals with an interest in numbers and recordkeeping may want to consider a career in the bookkeeping field. Bookkeeping degree programs train individuals to manage financial records, organize files and maintain accounting software programs. Additionally, certification is available through a number of organizations to demonstrate professionalism and expertise in the field.

Career Bookkeeping Clerk Accounting Clerk Auditing Clerk
Education Requirements High school diploma; certification may be required High school diploma; certification may be required High school diploma; certification may be required
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) -8%* -8%* -8%*
Median Salary (2015) $37,250* $37,250* $37,250*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Bookkeeping Degree and Certification Programs

Bookkeepers ensure accurate recording of business costs, expenses, revenues and other transactions. A program in bookkeeping may lead to a professional certificate or an associate's degree in accounting. Graduates from a bookkeeping program may be qualified to work in an entry-level position. Subjects studied typically include accounting basics, database management and payroll. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that auditing, bookkeeping and accounting clerk jobs will decrease by 8% between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). Workers in these fields earned $37,250 as a median annual wage in May 2015.

Bookkeeping Clerk

Bookkeeping clerks typically work for small organizations and are responsible for completing all tasks related to bookkeeping and financial records. They may use computer software and ledgers to record any changes to account balances. Bookkeeping clerks may also be responsible for making payments to banks and overseeing payroll expenses.

Bookkeeping clerks may want to obtain professional certification to prove their skills and abilities to future employers. The National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers (NACPB) has an online exam that covers accounting, financial management, bookkeeping and payroll systems (www.nacpb.org).

Bookkeepers with knowledge or experience in payroll may consider certification in the field. The American Payroll Association offers the Fundamental Payroll Certification for payroll beginners and the Certified Payroll Professional certification for those with significant payroll experience (www.americanpayroll.org). Individuals must prove knowledge or experience in payroll practices, and they must also take and pass an exam.

Accounting Clerk

Accounting clerks tend to work in larger organizations than bookkeeping clerks and are typically responsible for a more narrow range of tasks. Some accounting clerks work in accounts receivable departments, keeping records related to payments received from clients, customers and other parties. Others may work in accounts payable, recording payments made to vendors, transportation providers, tax agencies and other organizations. All accounting clerks are responsible for verifying the accuracy and completeness of records, and senior clerks often compare statements against each other to determine consistency.

Accounting clerks aren't required to obtain licensing or certification, but those with a degree and experience in the accounting field may wish to become public accountants. Individuals who want to become public accountants must take and pass the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam (www.aicpa.org). Depending on the state, individuals who pass the CPA exam may receive CPA certification, state licensure, or both.

Auditing Clerk

Auditing clerks are responsible for verifying and cross-referencing the records and statements produced by other workers. They may examine ledgers to determine that records are accurate, calculations are done properly and that there is no impropriety in the actions or expenditures of any individuals associated with the organization. When they encounter errors or inaccuracies, they may note them and inform the appropriate department responsible for correcting the mistake.

Auditing clerks with significant knowledge and experience may want to obtain professional certification. The Institute of Internal Auditors offers the Certified Internal Auditor certification to auditors with a bachelor's degree or above, references and auditing experience (www.theiia.org). Individuals must pay a fee and pass a computer-based exam to receive certification.

Salary and Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerks earned a median salary of $37,250 in May 2015. Employment in these fields is expected to decrease at a rate of 8% between 2014 and 2024.

Bookkeepers include bookkeeping clerks, who work with company expenses, accounting clerks, who work for larger companies, and auditing clerks, who verify records and statements for consistency. Each of these professions require a degree in bookkeeping, and sometimes certification. There is expected to be a significant 8% decrease of jobs in this field through the year 2024.

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