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Professional Bookkeeper Education Requirements and Career Info

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a professional bookkeeper. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about schooling, job duties and certification to find out if this is the career for you.

If you have strong mathematical, organizational, computer and accounting skills, you may consider a career as a professional bookkeeper. This job requires a high school diploma and on-the-job-training at the entry level, although some companies may require a certificate or undergraduate degree in accounting or bookkeeping.

Essential Information

Professional bookkeepers keep track of financial transactions for individuals, companies and corporations. A high school diploma is all that is required for many bookkeeper positions, since employers often provide the needed training to new hires. Some larger companies, however, prefer to hire bookkeepers who hold a certificate or degree in accounting or bookkeeping. Optional certifications are also available for those who want to stand out in the field.

Required Education High school diploma with on-the-job training; certificate, associate's degree or bachelor's degree related to accounting preferred
Certification Optional certification through the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers and the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers
Projected Job Growth -8% from 2014-2024 (bookkeeping, auditing and accounting clerks)*
Median Salary (January 2016) $39,510 annually**

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com

Professional Bookkeeper Educational Requirements

Bookkeepers should have a strong foundation in mathematics, be well organized and have a good working knowledge of computers, calculating machines and accounting software. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) reports a high school diploma is required for those seeking an entry-level position in bookkeeping. Many bookkeepers get on-the-job training. An aspiring bookkeeper may wish to earn a bachelor's degree in accounting if they wish to work for a specific company. Some companies may require bookkeepers to have a degree.

A person seeking a career as a bookkeeper might consider earning a certificate. Available online and in a classroom setting, a bookkeeping certificate of accomplishment teaches students the basics of bookkeeping. The program also covers computerized accounting, payroll tax accounting and business spreadsheet analysis.

Bookkeepers can earn certification through the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB). Earning the certification gives documented proof of competence and skills. The certification demonstrates an ability to handle bookkeeping duties for a company that has up to 100 employees. To take the certification examination, an applicant must have two years experience in bookkeeping. Applicants are required to sign a code of ethics and pass a national exam. Successful completion of the certificate examination gives the bookkeeper the designation Certified Bookkeeper (CB).

Career Info

Bookkeepers hold positions in almost every area, including manufacturing, state and local governments and non-profits. Employment is expected to decrease by 8% in the period from 2014 to 2024, according to projections made by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This decline is due to technical changes, with more companies using automated systems.

Entry-level bookkeepers earned a median annual wage of $36,025 in January 2016, according to Payscale.com. Experienced bookkeepers earned a median wage of $40,723 annually.

Professional bookkeepers organize and keep track of financial transactions and information, and they work for individuals, corporations, governments and nonprofits. A high school diploma and on-the-job training may lead to work in the field, though a certificate or undergraduate degree is often preferred. Certification is available in this field, and that may be helpful, since job opportunities for bookkeepers, auditing and accounting clerks are expected to decrease by 8% from 2014 to 2024.


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