A bookkeeping certification is a credential that demonstrates your skills and knowledge in different bookkeeping processes. Certifications may cover foundational tasks like preparing financial statements, using bookkeeping software, and managing accounts payable, as well as advanced tasks like conducting depreciation for accounting purposes, correcting accounting errors, and recording inventory.
As we’ll explore further down in this article, there are two industry-recognized credentialing entities that certify bookkeepers:
American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB) offers a membership program to bookkeepers with access to newsletters, special reports on bookkeeping topics, and discounts on certification and continuing education programs.
National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers (NACPB) offers membership at two levels—member (for employed bookkeepers) and pro (for bookkeeping business owners)—with perks such as access to training courses and certification discounts.
If you are considering a career in bookkeeping, you might be wondering whether you should get a certification in this field, the value it can offer employers, and what it might gain you in terms of career mobility. Here’s a look at the professional landscape in the US, as of November 2022:
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that bookkeeping jobs will decline 5 percent between now and 2031 .
According to Payscale, people in the US with a bookkeeping certification can earn, on average, $55,000 per year .
Statista projects that by 2024, the accounting, tax preparation, and bookkeeping services industry will generate $203.8 billion in revenue .
AIPB reports that graduates of its Certified Bookkeeper program have experienced career advancement. In-house bookkeepers have secured new jobs, promotions, and raises, while freelance bookkeepers have gained new clients, raised their rates, and used certification status for promoting their services .
In addition to career advancement potential, you may be able to experience the following as a result of certifications:
Keeping your skills current as bookkeeping shifts into automation and cloud computing, and filling knowledge gaps
Remaining competitive in the job market
Applying your bookkeeping skills and credential to other career fields, such as: entrepreneurship, project management, paralegal work, teaching bookkeeping or mathematics, financial planning or analysis, public accounting, banking, business analytics, human resources, payroll processing, budgeting, and tech roles in the finance industry.
In this section, you will explore 4 bookkeeping certifications. We’ve included the certifications offered by NACPB and AIPB—the two certifying entities with the most industry recognition—as well as certification and certificates offered by well-known brands. In addition, the certifications in the table below can be completed online.
|Certifications||What you’ll learn||Prerequisites||Cost||Time to complete|
|AIPB: Certified Bookkeeper Program||How to make adjusting entries; correct general ledger errors; conduct payroll, depreciation, and inventory processes; prevent fraud||1 year of college accounting coursework, plus 2 years of bookkeeping experience||$479 for members; $584 nonmembers (total includes separate registration, course, and test fees)||At least one part of the four-part exam must be completed in the first year of registration; entire exam must be completed within three years|
|NACPB: Bookkeeper Certification||How to understand accounting fundamentals, analyze business transactions, conduct accounting and payroll tasks, and more.||None||$369 for members; $449 for nonmembers||2-3 months for the course; 2 hours for the exam|
|Coursera & Intuit: Bookkeeping Professional Certificate||How to apply foundational concepts, analyze and produce financial statements, use accounting software||None||Free 7-day trial, then $39 / month with subscription||4 months|
|LinkedIn Learning: Become a Bookkeeper Learning Path (with certificate of completion)||How to create financial statements, manage cash flow and small business finances, use QuickBooks||None||Free 1-month trial, then $39 / month with subscription||12 hours, 34 minutes|
Follow the steps below to start your bookkeeping certification journey.
Get clear on what you want to achieve as a bookkeeper, including skills you want to master and career advancement milestones you want to pass. Knowing what you want to achieve can help you choose the best certification program for you. Draw from these bookkeeping career goal examples to articulate your own:
Master advanced bookkeeping skills like preventing fraud or correcting accounting errors.
Turn your bookkeeping side hustle into a full-time business.
Prepare for a career as a certified public accountant.
Starting with the table above, research certification and certificate programs to find the one that best aligns with your bookkeeping goals. Consider factors such as the cost, requirements, the skills and knowledge covered, and how the program outcomes compare to what employers are looking for.
Once you’ve chosen a program, your next step is to complete the coursework or training material. Be sure to allot enough time in your schedule to learn the skills your certification or certificate program measures, and be mindful of any deadlines by which you must take a certifying exam.
Once you complete a program and/or pass a certifying exam, display your credential online on your social media profiles, in an email signature, or on a website or portfolio. Displaying your credential online means you can visually represent your skills and knowledge and potentially attract employers' attention.
As the professional landscape evolves and demand for bookkeepers fluctuates, it’s important to update your skills periodically. That way, you can take on real-world business challenges effectively and remain competitive in the job market.
Depending on the certificate or certification program you complete, you may be required to recertify regularly to keep your credential. Recertification can ensure that you have mastered the latest bookkeeping skills, techniques, approaches, and technologies. You can also sign up for additional courses in bookkeeping to explore specific skills.
Explore Coursera’s bookkeeping course offerings to learn job-ready bookkeeping skills, explore career options, and prepare for certification programs by AIPB and NACPB. Learn bookkeeping and accounting fundamentals in the Bookkeeping Basics course and complete the entire Intuit Bookkeeping Professional Certificate program to dive into financial statement analysis, assets, liability, and equity.
This is the first course in a series of four that will give you the skills needed to start your career in bookkeeping. If you have a passion for helping ...
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Basis Of Accounting, accounting software, Accounting Cycle, Creating Financial Statements, Double-Entry Bookkeeping System
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Average time: 4 month(s)
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Double-Entry Bookkeeping System, Bookkeeping, Bank Reconciliations, Accounting Concepts and Measurement, Basis Of Accounting, accounting software, Accounting Cycle, Creating Financial Statements, Accounts receivable and cash receipts, Inventory costing methods, PP&E Accounting, Asset Accounting, Depreciation, Accounts Payable and Payroll, Owner’s Equity and Owner’s Draw, Accounting, Long-Term Liabilities and Note Payable, Accounting for Liabilities and Equity, Cash Flow, Bank Reconciliation, Financial reports analysis, financial statement analysis
US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/office-and-administrative-support/bookkeeping-accounting-and-auditing-clerks.htm.” Accessed November 9 2022.
Payscale. “Salary for Certification: Bookkeeping, https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Certification=Bookkeeping/Salary.” Accessed November 9, 2022.
Statista. “Industry revenue of ‘accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping services’ in the US from 2012 to 2024,” https://www.statista.com/forecasts/1014343/accounting-tax-preparation-bookkeeping-services-revenue-in-the-us.” Accessed November 9, 2022.
American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers. “Certification Program, https://aipb.org/certification-program/.” Accessed November 9, 2022.
This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.