Although targeted online instruction in bookkeeping tends to occur through diploma or certificate programs, those interested in earning a relevant degree may pursue an online accounting degree. The most commonly available degree program for bookkeepers is an associate's degree in accounting. The associate's degree program can be completed in about two years, and most programs are available 100% online. However, hybrid programs that combine online coursework and on-campus participation are available.
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Associate's Degree Program in Accounting
Bookkeepers are not required to hold a degree; however, individuals who hold an accounting degree tend to be more attractive to potential employers. Applicants are required to hold a high school diploma or GED in order to be admitted to a program. Students are prepared not only to be a bookkeeper, but may qualify for other positions, including assistant or junior accountant, auditor, tax preparer, payroll processor, bank teller and administrative service manager.
Information and Requirements
Depending on a student's schedule and the school involved, an associate's program can be completed in as little as 16 months. There are roughly 15 general education credit hours included in the program that typically consists of around 60 total credit hours. Most programs are delivered entirely online, with students referring to real textbooks, study guides and other supplements.
Students can complete all assignments online, including examinations. In order to do this, students must have a computer with Internet access and an appropriate system such as Microsoft Office, as well as a CD and DVD player. Communication with faculty members is generally accomplished by e-mail and phone.
Associate's Degree Courses
The online courses leading to an associate's degree give an individual a decided edge in the job market. The required core courses cover bookkeeping, and then proceed to provide training in areas like finance, marketing and economics.
Using application software, students develop the skills necessary to analyze financial information and apply appropriate solutions to accounting problems.
By way of all inclusive payroll simulations, students learn how to interpret and maintain payroll records. While exploring the aspects of tax preparation, students learn to calculate and process payroll and how to report wages and withhold tax.
Calculations of owner's equity, general operating statements, preparation of balance sheets and cash flow statements are some of the areas covered in this course. By examining financial records and through the use of various accounting methods, students learn business analysis from a managerial point of view.
Jobs such as bookkeepers are directly tied to an expanding economy. Individuals who are able to perform a wide variety of office duties will be in greater demand than those who have a single, specialized function. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted that jobs for bookkeeping, auditing and accounting clerks will decrease by 8% for the years 2014-2024.
Continuing Education and Certification
Individuals holding a certificate or diploma in bookkeeping can increase their employment options by enrolling in an online associate's degree program. Usually credits earned in a diploma program are transferable to meet degree requirements. Online degree programs are available through various colleges throughout the United States.
While not legally required, certification is extremely beneficial for initial employment and career advancement. There are a number of certifications available by way of sitting for examinations administered through various industry organizations.
The American Payroll Association offers Fundamental Payroll Certification (FPC) for beginners and the Certified Payroll Professional (CPP) for individuals with certain amounts of payroll experience. Preparation courses are available online, but examinations take place at designated centers throughout the country.
The American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers offers the Certified Bookkeeper (CB) designation to individuals who have at least two years of experience and pass a 4-part examination at one of 300 testing centers.
The National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers offers the Certified Public Bookkeeper (CPB) designation to individuals who pass a 3-part online examination.
Some certifications dictate that individuals meet continuing education requirements in order to keep their designation valid.
Aspiring bookkeepers do not necessarily need to hold a degree, though employers may prefer those with a degree in accounting. These accounting degrees are available fully online, allowing students to work at their own pace.