Small Business Accounting Certificate Online

May 15, 2020

Overview of Online Small Business Accounting Certificate Programs

There are at least a few online certificate programs available specifically in small business accounting, but there are also several foundational certificate programs in accounting available online that may be geared towards small business owners. While there are also some graduate-level or advanced-level online certificates in accounting designed for accounting professionals, these undergraduate, entry-level certificate programs in the field help equip students who do not have a background in accounting with basic knowledge of the subject. Many of these certificate programs do not have any prerequisites for admission, but some post-baccalaureate certificates may require applicants to have a bachelor's degree.

An online certificate program in small business accounting may be offered as a Certificate of Completion and be completed in as little as 2 semesters. Other entry-level certificate programs in accounting may be self-paced and/or be completed in as little as 9 months. All of these certificate programs designed for small business owners can usually be completed fully online.

Requirements for Online Small Business Accounting Certificates

Fully online accounting or small business accounting certificate programs are designed to provide students with basic accounting skills in areas like taxation, financial reporting, and accounting systems. Students wishing to open their own business or currently operating their own business may also gain hands-on experience with accounting software programs.

General Requirements

Students in online accounting or small business accounting certificate programs are usually required to complete between 12 and 18 credits, although some certificates may require as much as 36 credits. Students typically take core courses with no electives, but some programs may give students options between a few core accounting courses for individualization. Some of these online certificate programs may include coursework in a specific type of software program used in accounting and/or courses that examine state-specific taxes and accounting regulations, so students may want to ensure their program of interest matches their specific needs.

Common Courses

Financial Accounting

Financial accounting courses introduce students to the basic accounting principles and practices used in business. Students learn how to analyze various financial aspects of an organization and may discuss specific topics in cash-flow, liabilities, long-term assets, rules and standards in accounting, and more.


Some courses in payroll may incorporate state-specific rules and guidelines, but in general, these courses introduce students to concepts in payroll accounting. Students in these courses may gain experience in manual and/or computerized accounting procedures for payroll, preparing employment records, and filing state and federal reports.

Computer Applications/Business Information Systems

Computer applications/business information systems courses are designed to expose students to different technologies used in accounting and the business world to keep organizations running smoothly. Some of these courses may focus specifically on applications used for financial statements, payroll, and other accounting-related activities, while others may explore technology in business on a broader scale. Either way, students in these courses usually receive hands-on experience with technologies.

Career Outcomes With a Certificate in Small Business Accounting

An online certificate program in accounting may be ideal for a small business owner who does not necessarily have a background in the field. Depending on the size of the business, these owners may be responsible for preparing payroll, taxes, budgets, and more. Although it is likely to vary by the industry, size, and success of their business, reported that small business owners made a median annual salary of $68,888 as of April 2020.

Some foundational certificate programs in accounting may also help prepare students for entry-level careers in accounting working for small businesses or other organizations. For example, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks are only typically required to have some college. These clerks had a median annual salary of $41,230, as of 2019, per the BLS. Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks help run and manage various financial records for their organization.

Online certificate programs in small business accounting are relatively rare, but can be completed fully online. These certificates, as well as foundational online certificate programs in accounting, help prepare small business owners and other entry-level accounting professionals with basic accounting skills.

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