Bookkeeping And Accounting Certification Education

Do you have an eye for numbers and want to turn your skills into a career? Find out how to get a bookkeeping certification.

If you are the type of person who enjoys working with numbers, a career in bookkeeping might be right for you. However, there are some things you need to understand before you pursue a bookkeeping education. One is that bookkeeping and accounting are not exactly the same thing.  Although, a bookkeeping education is an excellent step down the path of becoming an accountant.

An education as a bookkeeper qualifies you to keep track of daily business transactions within a company. You must have focus on details and accuracy as a bookkeeper. An accountant may use the daily information you record to audit the company for which you work. He or she may also make predictions regarding the needs of the business going forward by analyzing the data you provide. That is why having a proper bookkeeping certification is vital. Here is what you need to know about obtaining a bookkeeping certification.

The Type of Bookkeeping Certification Required

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) some college study is usually required to become a bookkeeper. However, college is not an absolute requirement for an entry level bookkeeping position. As long as you are a high school graduate, you can begin a bookkeeping career. However, if you want your career as a bookkeeper to advance, you must pursue higher education, such as:

  • Bookkeeping Certificate

  • Undergraduate Accounting Certificate

  • Associate's Degree in Accounting and Bookkeeping

  • A Related Business Degree

How Long Does It Take to Become a Certified Bookkeeper?

The first step in the higher education process for bookkeeping is typically obtaining a bookkeeping certificate. Unlike some fields, such as medicine, education often comes second in the bookkeeping industry. In fact, to qualify for certain bookkeeping certificate courses you must already have one or two years of practical bookkeeping experience. Therefore, you must factor time spent working as a bookkeeper into your educational plans.

The length of time it takes to complete a bookkeeping certificate course once you enroll in one varies. If you sign up to take scheduled classes in person, it may take up to two years to get a basic certification. However, many colleges offer online courses you can complete at your own pace. By opting to take such a course, you can potentially obtain your certification within a year. If you choose to also pursue an associate's or bachelor's degree, expect to devote at least an additional two to four years of your time to that process.

How Much Do Courses Cost to Become a Bookkeeper?

There is no specific cost to become a bookkeeper. Certificate and higher education course costs vary between course providers. Your cost for a certificate course may also change based on your payment method. For example, as of July 2021 a course through U.S. career institute costs $1,889 if you pay monthly. However, paying the full fee up front allows you to save $200.

If you need the best rate on a bookkeeping course, explore online options. Online courses are often less expensive than courses offered in person on college campuses. For example, the educational website Udemy offers a bookkeeping course online for approximately $75. When looking for an online bookkeeping course, make sure to pay attention to details. Check the scope of the courses you are considering taking. Also, make sure the course you choose provides a certificate of completion. 

Grants and Other Financial Aid for Bookkeeping and Accounting Courses

If you want to pursue bookkeeping and accounting degrees from accredited universities, expect to pay fairly high amounts. That is particularly true if your intention is to follow up a certificate program with an associate's or bachelor's degree. To obtain the career benefits of bookkeeping degrees without the immediate financial burden, you may need financial assistance.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is one of the first forms you need to fill out when seeking financial aid for higher education. You must be a high school graduate to complete the FAFSA form. You can also apply for one or more scholarship programs. Scholarships are offered from numerous sources, including:

  • Colleges

  • Local Businesses

  • Private Organizations

  • Nonprofits

  • Government Agencies

Scholarships typically have requirements you must meet to apply. Those requirements may include completion of previous educational milestones, but they may also be based solely on financial need or other criteria, such as geographic location. Do not expect to receive every scholarship for which you apply.

You may also qualify for other forms of financial aid to help with your bookkeeping course expenses, such as student loans or grants. The difference between a loan and a grant is a grant typically does not require repayment. Loans and grants each have different eligibility requirements you must meet. If you are taking bookkeeping courses through a particular college, speak to staff member sin the financial aid department to fully explore your options.

Top Schools and Online Schools/Courses to Become a Bookkeeper

Finding the best bookkeeping course for you is important. The course needs to fit in terms of what you want to learn, your schedule, and your financial situation. There are several ways to do get the certificates and degrees in bookkeeping you need. The American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB) offers a certification program. You can apply for a similar course through the National Bookkeeper's Association (NBA) or the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers (NACPB). According to the popular financial website Investopedia, other top sources of online bookkeeping certificates in 2021 include:

  • Coursera

  • Penn Foster College

  • Udemy

  • LinkedIn Learning 

If you want to attend a bookkeeping certificate course in person on a college campus, you must obviously look at colleges in your local area. Most colleges offer multiple bookkeeping, accounting, and business courses. However, some of those courses have prerequisites, such as proof of a work history in bookkeeping or completion of a prerequisite course. Check all prerequisites before attempting to register for a bookkeeping course. Also, make sure the college you select offers the payment plan or financial aid options you need.