Online Bookkeeping Certificate and Certification Information

Online bookkeeping certificate programs are typically offered through extended or continuing education divisions at community colleges and universities. Online bookkeeping certificate programs prepare graduates for entry-level positions and the national bookkeeping certification exam.

Essential Information

Undergraduate-level bookkeeping certificate programs and individual courses are widely available online both as initial career preparation and as continuing education for certified bookkeepers. These cover basic accounting principles and common bookkeeping software. Individual courses may be available as online independent study, while more comprehensive certificate programs might require taking some courses on campus.

While the preparation for professional certification and subsequent continuing education can be completed online, the certification exams must be taken at a supervised professional testing facility.

Related Degree Options

Bookkeeping programs provide focused career preparation in a relatively short time. The following online programs may pave the way for more flexible career options and opportunity for advancement:

  • Associate of Science in Accounting
  • Accounting certificates
  • Administrative or office assistant certificates

Bookkeeping Certificate Overview

Some online bookkeeping certificates are geared towards individuals with little to no prior bookkeeping experience. Students are introduced to basic bookkeeping practices, including accounting principles and the theory of double-entry bookkeeping. The course may focus on a particular bookkeeping computer application, and students explore its functionality, learning to track payables and receivables, plan budgets and utilize the software to improve accounting practices. Students who complete the certificate program are prepared for entry-level bookkeeping positions.

Other bookkeeping certificate programs are intended for experienced bookkeepers. The program may stress subject areas including book and tax depreciation, merchandise inventory, basic payroll and entry adjustment.

Students applying to take an online bookkeeping certificate program should have a GED or high school diploma from a high school, with proficiency in English and typing.

Program Information and Requirements

Online bookkeeping certificates generally take 4-6 months to complete. Most programs can be completed entirely online, although some may be offered in a hybrid format. A school may provide necessary materials like workbooks.

Students are required to have reliable Internet connection and e-mail. If a certificate program focuses on a specific software application, students must have access to the application. Other software programs, such as Microsoft Word, may be necessary, depending on the program. Most programs may be complete on either a Mac or Windows computer.

List of Common Bookkeeping Courses

Courses in an online certificate program in bookkeeping can range from entry-level to advanced. They may include instruction in popular bookkeeping applications, such as QuickBooks or Peachtree. Students are prepared to take positions as accounts payable or receivable clerks, bookkeepers, tellers or trainee accountants. Possible courses are:

Property Taxes, Sales and Payroll Course

This is an introductory course. Students learn the basics of reporting taxes for personal property, sales and payroll.

Accounting Principles Course

Students learn the fundamentals of accounting theory, procedures and principles. They also study how to interpret financial statements.

Computer Applications Course

This course introduces student to microcomputer accounting systems, such as payroll, accounts payable and receivable and general ledger. It may also cover presentation graphics, databases, spreadsheet and word processing programs.

Business Communications Course

Students sharpen their nonverbal and verbal communication techniques. They learn to write external and internal business communications.

Career Information for Bookkeepers

Jobs for bookkeepers are anticipated to increase at an average rate (approximately ten percent in the decade 2008-2018), according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which also reported that in 2009, bookkeepers made a median yearly wage of $33,450.

Continuing Education and Certification Information

Graduate of an online certificate in bookkeeping may seek certification. Certification is overseen by AIPB (American Institution of Professional Bookkeeping), which awards the CB (Certified Bookkeeper) credential. To become certified, applicants must pass two tests and two workbook tests and agree to the code of ethics for bookkeepers. In addition, an applicant must complete 3,000 hours of work experience. Experience can be completed before or after passing the exams. CBs must complete 60 continuing education credits over a 3-year period in order to maintain certification.

Certified bookkeepers may further their education by earning an associate's or bachelor's degree in accounting. A CB may even become a CPA (Certified Public Accountant) with additional education and experience.

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