Undergraduate bookkeeping certificate programs and individual courses are widely available online both for initial career preparation and as continuing education for certified bookkeepers. These cover basic accounting principles and common bookkeeping software. Individual courses may be available through 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.
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.
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
This is an introductory course. Students learn the basics of reporting taxes for personal property, sales and payroll.
Students learn the fundamentals of accounting theory, procedures and principles. They also study how to interpret financial statements.
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.
Students sharpen their nonverbal and verbal communication techniques. They learn to write external and internal business communications.
Jobs for bookkeepers are anticipated to decrease 8% from 2014-2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which also reported that in 2015, bookkeepers made a median yearly wage of $37,250.
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.
Whether a student wants an entry-level certificate in bookkeeping, or a professional bookkeeper needs continuing education credits, these programs can be found fully online or partially online. Graduates of certificate programs may be qualified for professional certification exams.