Bookkeeping Certification: Benefits + How to Get One

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Discover bookkeeping certification programs, career paths they can lead to, and the steps on how to get a certificate.

[Featured image] A person in a white shirt sits at a table in front of a wall of windows and studies for their bookkeeping certification. They hold a pen and have a laptop and notebook in front of them.

What is a bookkeeping certification?

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.  

Is a bookkeeping certificate worth it? 

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 [1].

  • According to Payscale, people in the US with a bookkeeping certification can earn, on average, $55,000 per year [2]. 

  • Statista projects that by 2024, the accounting, tax preparation, and bookkeeping services industry will generate $203.8 billion in revenue [3]. 

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 [4].   

Benefits of getting a bookkeeping certification

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  

Read more: What Is a Career Path? How to Create Your Own

4 industry-recognized bookkeeping certifications 

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. 

CertificationsWhat you’ll learnPrerequisitesCostTime to complete
AIPB: Certified Bookkeeper ProgramHow to make adjusting entries; correct general ledger errors; conduct payroll, depreciation, and inventory processes; prevent fraud1 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 CertificationHow to understand accounting fundamentals, analyze business transactions, conduct accounting and payroll tasks, and more.None$369 for members; $449 for nonmembers2-3 months for the course; 2 hours for the exam
Coursera & Intuit: Bookkeeping Professional CertificateHow to apply foundational concepts, analyze and produce financial statements, use accounting softwareNoneFree 7-day trial, then $39 / month with subscription4 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 QuickBooksNoneFree 1-month trial, then $39 / month with subscription12 hours, 34 minutes

How to become a certified bookkeeper

Follow the steps below to start your bookkeeping certification journey. 

1. Identify your bookkeeping career goals. 

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.   

2. Select the best certification for you. 

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. 

3. Register for and complete the training material.

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.

4. Share your credentials. 

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.  

Read more: How to List Certifications on Your Resume: Guide + Examples

5. Update your skills periodically. 

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. 

Learn bookkeeping with Coursera 

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. 

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course

Bookkeeping Basics

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 ...

4.6

(2,646 ratings)

70,287 already enrolled

BEGINNER level

Average time: 1 month(s)

Learn at your own pace

Skills you'll build:

Basis Of Accounting, accounting software, Accounting Cycle, Creating Financial Statements, Double-Entry Bookkeeping System

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professional certificate

Intuit Academy Bookkeeping

Launch your career in bookkeeping. Gain the professional skills you need to succeed in the bookkeeping field. No degree or prior experience required.

4.5

(3,012 ratings)

57,230 already enrolled

BEGINNER level

Average time: 4 month(s)

Learn at your own pace

Skills you'll build:

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

Article sources

1

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. 

Written by Coursera • Updated on

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.

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