15 Super Affordable Online Bookkeeping Certificate programs

In terms of the various jobs in the field of accounting, bookkeeper is the title of the entry level position in the field of accounting. Bookkeepers must be trustworthy, organized, and knowledgeable about the administrative duties required to adequately maintain individual and business finances. Just as with all other accounting roles, not all bookkeepers are created equal. Since a bookkeeper is not legally required to obtain a bookkeeper certification by a governing body, or even attend bookkeeper courses, those accounting buffs who choose to achieve the title of certified bookkeeper are at a distinct advantage. They are able to charge more money for their services, can be more confident in their professional choices with informed decisions regarding software, organization, and documentation They are also able to ensure customer satisfaction by properly handling complicated concerns with their books. Luckily, becoming a certified bookkeeper is closer at hand than you may have thought.

How to Become a Bookkeeper Online?

Research the duties and expectations of a bookkeeper and decide it is right for you. Choose between one of these 15 super affordable online bookkeeper courses. Enroll in the program of your choosing, most are open admission and open enrollment. Complete required coursework with the flexibility of an online program. Complete online practice tests for certification exams at the websites of the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB) or the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers (NACPB). Become certified by the AIPB and/or the NACPB. Begin working with clients as a freelance professional bookkeeper or within a company as an in-house bookkeeper. Complete continuing education units to stay up to date with the latest pertinent information for professional bookkeepers.  

What to Expect from an Online Bookkeeper Training?

The average cost for online bookkeeper certifications range from several hundred dollars, all inclusive, to more than $10,000. Keep in mind that these are certification programs, (usually) not diploma or degree programs. The main distinction is that certificates do not generally build upon transferable coursework, as an associate’s degree in accounting might contribute to a bachelor’s in accounting. They do however bump a bookkeeper’s salary up between $12k and $17k per year. 

Bookkeepers’ duties include the use of bookkeeping software, spreadsheets, and databases to ensure accuracy in figures, postings, and reports. The records that bookkeepers work with include expenditures (money spent), receipts (money that comes in), accounts payable (bills to be paid), accounts receivable (invoices, or what others owe the organization), and profit and loss (a report that shows the organization’s financial health).

Among the many expectations of certified bookkeepers, being extremely trustworthy and finely attuned to accurate detail is close to the very top. Comfort with both numbers and mental computing, as well as in-depth training in software programs are a must. Since bookkeepers are often the people who also communicate with company personnel regarding refund receipts, payroll issues, tax information, and other financial concerns, excellent communication skills are critical for bookkeepers as well.

What You Should Know about Bookkeeping

Professional organizations in bookkeeping and accounting exist to provide more integrity to the field, offering members opportunities to continue to learn throughout their career and other professional resources. The two most prominent organizations for bookkeepers are the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB) and the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers (NACPB). These bodies also prepare and award certifications and licenses to bookkeepers in the United States.

If you are familiar with the online and cloud-based accounting software QuickBooks, you may also be aware that the parent company for QB, a brand called Intuit, also offers a bookkeeper training program online. The Pro Advisor designation is the certification awarded to bookkeepers who have completed the online, self-paced set of courses and final exam. Upon certification, trainees receive a certificate and a badge that can be placed on business cards or websites, indicating advanced software training and dedication to the field of bookkeeping. This designation adds credentials and publicity, increasing earning potential and expertise. A major difference in a Pro Advisor designation and an AIPB or NACPB certification is that Intuit is a company, not a professional organization, and the designation indicates that you are trained specifically in the use of QuickBooks, but not necessarily in the business and tax laws that certified bookkeepers learn.

Each of the 15 super affordable programs featured, prepare students to become eligible to sit for AIPB Certification, although there is a testing fee for sitting for this certification. They are ranked in order of their affordability, although for accuracy, the tuition amount information must be acquired from the school itself.

all images sourced from institution’s website

The U.S. Career Institute, also known as (USCI), is a private learning institute, headquartered in Fort Collins, Colorado. They were founded in 1981 by the corporation Westin Distance Learning, INC. Their fitting motto is Dream/ Learn/ Succeed, which is in reference to their self-determined programming that allows students to achieve professional certifications and credentials, while studying at their own pace in a comprehensive, online, distance learning format. Students who engage in their programming not only achieve their self-directed coursework, but they also receive personalized training on how to be successful in accomplishing at home distance learning.

The US Career Institute offers a timely program in Bookkeeping, which is both affordable and achieved entirely online. Bookkeeping is an in-demand profession that offers security and flexibility, as every industry requires a skilled and competent bookkeeper. Graduates of the program have many options of how to engage with the field, including entrepreneurial endeavors. The program is available 100% online, or can be taken with hard copy lesson books. Students will gain the skills to know the ins and outs of bookkeeping equations, accounts receivable, closing the books, corporations and nonprofits, financial statements, and computerized bookkeeping. Students can complete the program prepared to engage in this comprehensive filed in as few as four months. There is no previous experience needed, and the course provides everything students would need to know in order to be successful in this field.

Program Duration: 4 months
Cost: $$$$$

The Penn Foster Career School is a nationally and regionally accredited career school with program offerings that are entirely online. Founded in 1890, they were originally known as International Correspondence School (ICS). The original founding was with the intention of providing coal miners with career advancement education that can also contribute to greater worker safety. Their headquarters are located in the town of Scranton, Pennsylvania, and they currently offer over 30 distinct certificate programs, as well as 50 interdisciplinary career diploma programs. All courses are self-directed as well as self-paced, with 80 different disciplines in which students can engage, These include automotive, creative design, health services, legal studies, among many others.

The Penn Foster Career School offers affordable online courses in bookkeeping that will allow students to become successful bookkeepers in as little as five months of coursework. Students will learn all of the necessary skills to engage in this consistently in-demand field, including assets and liabilities, expenses and revenues, and the culmination of a final project that includes business ownership. The program is known for its affordability and thorough online coursework that can be accessed 24/7 at the students convenience. This course of study was designed to have embedded community, as students will connect with their peers in real time throughout the time they are studying. Not only is the learning self-directed, but students even set their own exam schedule.

Program Duration: 5 months
Cost: $$$$$

Molloy College was established in 1955 as a private Catholic institution, located in the heart of Long Island, New York, and was founded by the Dominican Sisters of Amityville. Originally Molloy was an all women’s school, though they began accepting male students in the early seventies and have since become coeducational. Their main campus is in what is called Rockville Center on 30 acres of land that was purchased in 1941. Their student body consists of close to 5,000 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students. They are known for their student centered clubs and organizations which make up over 60 distinct entities including honors societies and extracurricular organizations.

Molloy College offers dual Bookkeeping and Accounting Program, which includes a Bookkeeping Certificate program. The program is affordable, with a guarantee that if you complete the course with perfect attendance and still do not feel equipped to be successful in the field of Bookkeeping, they will allow you to re-enroll in the program for free. Also, it is made clear that if the student begins the program and does not feel that it is meeting their needs after the first few sessions, a full refund will be granted. The Bookkeeping Certificate program is committed to training student to be effective and prepared certified bookkeepers. Bookkeeping I and II are five sessions each, and are held in person on evenings in person.

***This program required in-person class sessions***

Program Duration: fewer than 12 months
Cost: $$$$$

The Lone Star College, which is formally known as the North Harris College, is a public community college near Houston, Texas. They are part of The Lone Star College system that serves the greater Houston region. Lone Star offers a myriad of certificate programs as well as Associate’s degree opportunities, which include close to 110 courses of study. Lone Star was established in 1972, and was officially opened in 1973. They consistently have had enrollment close to 11,000 students annually. The programming at Lone Star directly meets critical needs of the community, as they are the region’s only source of automotive technology education, and health information technologies, in addition to other specific, highly-needed disciplines.

Lone Star College offers an Accounting Assistant/ Bookkeeper Certificate Program that prepares students for a successful career as a Certified Bookkeeper. This is an affordable opportunity to take non-credit courses on a fast track to completion and ultimately results in a certificate from Lone Star. This course of study provides the underpinnings of foundational computer skills that include EXCEL, QuickBooks, and essential accounting software application. Graduates of the program will be prepared to immediately enter the workforce in positions such as Payroll Assistant and bookkeeper. The entire program consists of 112 contact hours, with many options for financial aid.

Program Duration: 4 months
Cost: $$$$$

The University of Utah Continuing Education & Community Engagement program offers classes at the main University campus, at two sites off campus in Sandy and St. George, and at several locations around the Wasatch. Their goals include providing lifelong learning opportunities to local populations which may include non-native english speakers, professionals, stay-at-home parents, students, and elders. Their offerings include academic disciplines for both credit and non-credit, as well as a variety of recreational classes based in the arts or various skill sets. Many programs are certificate based, and can lead to a furthering or change in career path, as well as life enrichment.

The University of Utah Continuing Education & Community Engagement offers a Professional Bookkeeper Certificate Program that is both affordable and offered entirely online. Students will be given all of the skills and information to understand the bookkeeping process and prepare to be Certified Bookkeepers. In fact, students who complete the program receive a University of Utah Certified Bookkeeper Certificate, and students who achieve a 90% or above on the final exam will be awarded with the designation of Professional Bookkeeper (PB). The entire program is made up of four modules, and can be achieved with 60 hours of coursework. Students can work at their own place, and have one year to complete the program.

Program Duration: 12 months
Cost: $$$$$

The University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education is a campus hub for meetings and professional education training. They offer 200 rooms and suites, including a hotel,  many dining options, and spaces to host special events. They also have a full staff to aid in event planning and ensuring that all is run smoothly. This is a hub for professional education opportunities, where hundreds of courses are offered to provide career driven skills and education, enabling students and community members to advance in the workforce. The other component the UGA Center for Continuing Education offers is extensive youth programming that trains young people to build solid extra curricular foundations, including robotics summer camp and leadership opportunities.

The University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education offers a Certified Bookkeeper training program. This opportunity is both affordable and conducted entirely online. The program is designed for students who have already achieved training in bookkeeping, but are seeking their certification with the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB). These bookkeeper courses are offered in collaboration with several colleges and universities, as well as other accredited educational institutions. Online bookkeeper courses at UGA Con Ed can be started at any point, and all textbooks are included. Participants are given 6 months to complete the program, and are able to work at their own pace. They are given one year from enrollment to submit their application for the certified bookkeeper designation.

Program Duration: 6 months
Cost: $$$$$

Kennesaw State University, also known as KSU, is a public university with its flagship campus located in Kennesaw, Georgia. They have an additional satellite campus in Marietta, Georgia. KSU offers yet additional classes at the Cobb Galleria Centre as well as in connection to Dalton State College. They are part of the University System of Georgia, and are one of the top 50 largest universities in the United States, with over 35,000 students enrolled. The two campuses are on a combined 581 acres of land. The university is divided into 13 distinct colleges, offering over 50 bachelor’s degree programs, 21 master’s degree programs, and 1 specialist program.

Kennesaw State University offers a Bookkeeper Advanced Certificate Program that is entirely online. Upon completion, graduates are able to sit for the certificate exam from the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB). They offer bookkeeper courses for professionals already working in the field, as becoming a certified bookkeeper can dramatically increase professional status as well as pay grade. The program is not only affordable, but the voucher to take the exam is included in tuition. The program’s only prerequisite is a bookkeeping certificate or two years bookkeeping experience, as it is geared towards students who want to take their bookkeeping training and career to the next level.

Program Duration: 3 months
Cost: $$$$$

California State University – San Marcos is located in San Diego County in the North County area of San Marcos, California. Founded in 1989, CSUSM started as a satellite campus of San Diego State University, until enough evidence–and an over-enrolled SDSU–encouraged lawmakers to consider the San Marcos campus its own autonomous university. It is now one of the 23 schools that make up the California State University system. In the past 10 years, CSUSM has been growing, serving steadily more and more students each year. The current enrollment hovers just above 17,000 students, with 615 full-time faculty.

The Certified Bookkeeper online training course at CSUSM teaches students the methods behind accrual accounting, understanding financial statements, basic accounting concepts, bank account reconciliation, payroll and taxes, managing inventory, and the implementation of safety measures. They are taught the necessary skills to excel at keeping accurate account of business and individual books, and at the end of the course, receive a certificate of completion from the AIPB. Students have six months to complete the program after enrollment. Since the course is fully online, students can pace themselves, but they only have 6 months after enrollment to complete the course and take the exam. As the course is self-paced, it is also open enrollment and students may begin at any time.

Program Duration: 6 months
Cost: $$$$$

Loyola Marymount University is a private Jesuit university located in the Westchester region of Los Angeles’ Westside. They are one of 28 members of the Association of Jesuit Schools and Colleges. The LA (LMU Extension) is their Continuing Education body that offers the community a myriad of learning opportunities that cover many disciplines. Professional students and community members alike can engage in one of the many courses for recreation, self-improvement or career development, with topics that include Yoga Studies, Business and Non-profit Development, Counseling and Behavioral Health, and Ministry studies, just to name a few. There are also many test preparation opportunities.

The Loyola Marymount University-LA (LMU Extension) offers a Certified Bookkeeper Training Program that is administered entirely online. The bookkeeper courses lead to national certification with the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB), and it was designed in collaboration with major accredited education providers, colleges, and universities. Not only is the program affordable, but all textbooks and materials are included in tuition. Students are encouraged to move at their own pace with this web based format, and can work with the flexibility necessary to continue working in the field of bookkeeper, among other disciplines. There are several subject areas covered, including adjusting entries, book and tax depreciation, and merchandise inventory.

Program Duration: 6 months
Cost: $$$$$

UCLA Extension is a continuing education program supported by the University of California at Los Angeles. In 1893, the idea for a continuing education program initially thought of as an extramural instruction plan. It wasn’t until 1902 that University Extension became a self-governing body within the University. They currently offer over 5,000 course options, and 100 certificates programs for students. To enroll in classes, students do not need to be accepted into UCLA itself. One of the most successful programs at University Extension is the Writer’s Program, producing screenwriters who have provided the storyline and character development for popular TV and movies.

As with other programs at University Extension, students can enroll in one class, or many. In the case of learning the skills of keeping financial records, students can complete a grouping of bookkeeper courses that achieve the bookkeeping certificate. The 4-course Bookkeeping specialization teaches the fundamental aspects of bookkeeping. They offer an emphasis on preparing students for career advancement through attaining relevant industry certifications and learning the latest technology and analytical tools used for bookkeeping. The Bookkeeping specialization must be completed within one year, wherein students can choose their coursework in an in-class or online format. Hybrid formats are an option as well. This certificate can be completed fully online.

Program Duration: fewer than 12 months
Cost: $$$$$

Rio Salado College is a Community College with its flagship site in Tempe, Arizona, though was originally situated in Phoenix. It was founded in 1978, with the motto Take the Next Step. They are affiliated with the Maricopa County Community College District, and offer a variety of learning formats including online certification programs, as well as hybrid programs. Their specialty is online and distance learning. They have been recognized in a number of platforms for their excellence, including in Forbes for what they considered a “Visionary Higher-Education Leader,” and by Focus Magazine for “Using High Tech Tools to Open Doors.”

The Certificate of Completion (CCL) in Accounting program at Rio Salado College is designed for students hoping to gain the initial skills and knowledge to be successful in the field of accounting. There are several options for entry-level professional positions following the completion of this program. These positions include bookkeeping clerk, accounts payable/receivable clerk, claims clerk, credit clerk, full-charge bookkeeper, accounting intern, and other comparable positions. The total amount of credits required for this certificate is 23-26, and applicants should have a minimum GPA from previous coursework or high school of 2.0. Not every required course is offered every semester, so students should contact an academic advisor to ensure their course of study for this certificate matches the course offerings, to maximize the efficiency in earning this certificate.

Program Duration: 12 months
Cost: $$$$$

Central Lakes Community College is a community college with two different campuses in Brainerd and Staples, Minnesota. It is a member of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System and was founded in 1938. Back then it was known as Brainerd State Junior College. In 1995, two seperate community colleges, and Brainerd Community College and Brainerd Staples Technical College joined forces and joined enrollment to form the CLCC. They both kept their original buildings and campuses (hence the two locations), as well as keeping many of the amazing traits of the original institutions. CLCC now offers over 70 programs and has expanded partnerships with area school districts and the business community to work toward a sustainable economy with a workforce that earns living wages.

The Bookkeeping certificate is a 20 credit hour program located in the accounting department at CLCC. Students will gain technical, entry level accounting skills and hands-on experience in financial and managerial accounting principles, cost, taxation, spreadsheet applications, and computerized accounting software. The program is spread out over two semesters, with three classes in the first semester teaching basics, and three in the second, covering more advanced accounting theories and applications. A Certified Bookkeeper exam is offered by the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers that students may take following the certificate program. The exam content covers basic accounting practices of the typical business.

***This program required in-person class sessions***

Program duration: 9 months
Cost: $$$$$

The state of New Hampshire granted Southern New Hampshire University its charter in 1963, which gave it the authority to begin granting degrees. The first associate degrees were awarded that year, and the first bachelor’s degrees were conferred three years later. In 1968, SNHU became a nonprofit institution under a board of trustees and the name was shortened to New Hampshire College in 1969. Located between Manchester and Hooksett, New Hampshire, SNHU is a leader in distance and non traditional post secondary education. Enrollment in the online programs, based in downtown Manchester, has increased rapidly, from 8,000 students in 2001 to 34,000 in 2014.

The super affordable online undergraduate certificate in the accounting program at SNHU offers students the opportunity to learn at their own pace over the course of six 8-week terms per year. With a 6-course curriculum, four courses in accounting and taxation, and two student-selected electives, the program provides students with the basic accounting skills they need to succeed in an entry-level, bookkeeping position. All courses in the program are taught by instructors with professional credentials and experience in accounting, taxation and fraud examination. The benefits of earning your accounting certificate online at SNHU include affordability and convenience, networking opportunities and student support, between others in the same program, or the thousands of SNHU alumni across the world.

Program duration: fewer than 12 months
Cost: $$$$$

Cincinnati State was originally named Cincinnati Technical College (CTC) and was founded in 1969. The campus was once owned by the Cincinnati Public School District and housed the Central Vocational High School and Courter Technical High School. Cincinnati State offers over 75 associate degree programs and majors, and over 40 certificate programs. Cooperative education and clinical practices are an important part of the school’s curriculum. It is one of the ten largest co-op education programs in the nation, as measured by the number of student placements. Some interesting trivia is that Cincinnati State was the first technical/community college in Ohio to completely ban smoking from campus buildings.

The Bookkeeping Certificate at Cincinnati State is for people who want to gain employment as an entry-level bookkeeper in a small or medium-sized organization. Other students include professional bookkeepers who hope to solidify their credentials and advance in their field. Two courses in the curriculum provide an in-depth training in the accounting software, QuickBooks. These courses are Computerized Bookkeeping: QuickBooks 1 and Computerized Bookkeeping: QuickBooks 2. Learning software like this is essential for the modern bookkeeper, and with enough awareness of this particular program, students can also complete a QuickBooks certification exam, earning them even more credentials. Graduates of the certificate program are prepared to take the national certification exam offered by the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers. A bookkeeping certification means graduates can charge more for their services as freelancers, and be more competitive on the market as an in-house bookkeeper.

Program duration: 12 months
Cost: $$$$$

Herzing University is a private postsecondary and educational institution offering many degree and continuing education opportunities for disciplines that include nursing, business, healthcare, and technology. They were originally established as a computer training institute in 1965, in the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They now have 11 campuses throughout the region, as well as an online institution. Students can study at any of the campuses, or earn a degree entirely online, with an option of taking a hybrid approach to their education and doing both. Herzing is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and additional accreditation for their business programming by the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE).

Herzing University offers a Diploma in Bookkeeping and Payroll Accounting that consists of 25 credits to prepare students for an entry-level position in Bookkeeping in a company, or allow graduates to work at freelance bookkeeping jobs. Students generally take 6-8 months to complete this affordable diploma program. Since all coursework can be completed fully online, the flexibility provided in completing the coursework allows students to maintain employment or attend to family commitments while attending classes. Graduates of the Herzing University Bookkeeping and Payroll Accounting Diploma program will have met the education requirement for the following certification opportunities: the American Payroll Association (APA) and the Fundamental Payroll Certification (FPC). Both of these feature exams for entry-level payroll professionals who wish to prove basic payroll competency.

Program duration: 6-8 months
Cost: $$$$$