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Bookkeeping Certification and Certificate Programs

Get information about bookkeeping certificate programs and certification. Explore program coursework and continuing education options, and find out what the job outlook and salary are like for this occupation.

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Essential Information

Bookkeepers are responsible for keeping a ledger of accounts for small to mid-size businesses. A certificate in bookkeeping can generally be completed in one to one-and-a-half years and is offered by many community colleges. Students enrolled in the program learn the basics of bookkeeping that includes payroll, tax accounting and computerized accounting, along with the use of bookkeeping software, like Quickbooks. Some certificate programs specifically prepare students for the Certified Bookkeeper (CB) certification exam offered by the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers.

Educational Prerequisites

Applicants are expected to hold a high school diploma to be eligible for admission into a bookkeeping certificate program. If a prospective student has not completed high school, then many community colleges will accept a GED certificate. Generally, scores for standardized exams, such as the ACT or SAT, aren't required for admission, though some schools will request them.

Program Coursework

Courses for a bookkeeping certificate primarily focus on the basics of the field and introduce students to the fundamentals of computerized accounting.

  • Principles of accounting
  • Payroll
  • Property and sales taxes
  • Tax accounting
  • Computerized accounting
  • Managerial accounting
  • Introduction to QuickBooks
  • Business software applications

Job Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,, the employment of bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerks is expected to increase by about 14% for the period between 2010 to 2020. This employment growth rate is roughly the same as the average of all occupations in the U.S. Bookkeepers that have extensive training and many years of experience may have the best chances for employment. As of May 2012, the BLS reports that the annual median salary of a bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerk was $35,170.

Continuing Education and Professional Bookkeeping Certification Information

Certification for bookkeepers in the U.S. is available and is highly recommended for professionals in the field. The American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers awards the Certified Bookkeeping certification. In order to be eligible for the certification, applicants must have at least two years of experience, demonstrate an understanding of bookkeeping ethics and pass an examination that is administered in four parts. Bookkeepers may find preparatory certification programs offered at community colleges and universities. The CB designation may increase the chances of being hired, as well as possibly opening up advancement opportunities for employed bookkeepers.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics