Super Affordable Online Bookkeeping Certificate Programs 2020

Compiled and Written By Accounting-Degree.org Staff


Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing professionals record financial information. They update financial statements and ensure accuracy, often using computer software to track expenses, credits, and transactions.

As the accounting profession becomes increasingly automated and technology-based, bookkeeping certificates give students access to changes and innovations in the field. Current bookkeepers advance their knowledge and skills, while individuals entering the field gain valuable finance, business, and accounting competencies.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects slower growth for bookkeeper employment than for other financial positions. Learners earning online bookkeeping certificates can enhance their employment prospects in a competitive market, as this designation demonstrates efficiency, efficacy, and proficiency to employers in the field.

Affordable Online Bookkeeping Certificate Programs

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: $$$$$

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 offers continuing education programs at several campus locations throughout the state and online. The university's continuing education programs are designed to benefit various types of students, including working professionals and non-native English speakers.

Utah's professional bookkeeper certificate is available fully online. The four-module program first teaches students to perform accounting processes by hand before moving into technology training. Graduates are prepared to work with the books for small to midsize businesses in a variety of industries, including retail businesses and nonprofit organizations. Along with the fundamentals of accounting and bookkeeping, students earning the bookkeeping certificate online gain business skills necessary to manage clients and launch their own bookkeeping service.

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 one of the country's oldest providers of continuing and professional education programs, each with a UCLA-approved curriculum. Students can pursue certificates and specializations, and they can complete non-credit courses and workshops.

UCLA Extension offers a specialization in bookkeeping; students who successfully complete the four-course program receive an award of completion signed by the dean. The program is designed for both experienced professionals and individuals interested in the field. The online program trains learners to utilize bookkeeping technology, and coursework covers fundamental knowledge in tax accounting and payroll. While the program is ideal for students interested in pursuing bookkeeping as a career, the specialization is also useful for individuals who want to apply bookkeeping knowledge to their work in other fields.

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: $$$$$

Benefits of Getting an Online Bookkeeping Certificate

With knowledge and skills applicable to businesses of all sizes, bookkeepers enjoy opportunities to pursue careers across industrial sectors. Bookkeepers enjoy high employment levels in accounting, tax preparation, and payroll. Many bookkeepers work in local government and real estate. The highest-paid bookkeepers in the United States work for the federal government, in the extraction industry, and in financial services.

Bookkeeping also lends itself to entrepreneurship. Quantitative skills and knowledge of record-keeping practices allow bookkeepers to work for multiple employers. These professionals may provide their services remotely, and they might take on additional hours during tax season, at the end of a fiscal year, or during an accounting audit.

Bookkeepers possess attention to detail and organizational skills, which certificates in bookkeeping can help them hone. Certificates train learners in business fundamentals, interpersonal communication, and financial principles. Additional coursework includes bookkeeping software, payroll record practices, and ledgers, worksheets, and journals.

Many individuals enter bookkeeping without formal training. A certificate provides job security and opportunities for advancement.

The best bookkeeping candidates demonstrate an interest in learning about changes in the field, building knowledge of bookkeeping technologies, and gaining insight into general accounting functions. Bookkeeping certificates set the foundation for learners to pursue undergraduate degrees in accounting, finance, or a related discipline.

What Can You Do with a Bookkeeping Certification?

A bookkeeping certificate covers mathematics, accounts and entry systems, and financial documentation. Learners study business principles and practices, organizational structure, and interpersonal communication. Technical skills remain at the core of the bookkeeping profession. Bookkeepers must understand various types of accounting software and their uses and limitations. Bookkeeping programs emphasize computer technologies such as Microsoft Excel, QuickBooks, and Sage.

Bookkeepers conduct reconciliations, payroll processing, and accounting audits, all of which require acute attention to detail. Bookkeepers must possess strong verbal and written communication skills, analytical abilities, and high levels of organization.

With the knowledge and skills acquired in a bookkeeping certificate program, individuals can pursue careers as financial clerks, accounting assistants, and account collectors. The BLS projects average growth for financial clerk jobs from 2018-2028, the highest increase among similar entry-level positions. In 2018, financial clerks earned an annual mean wages approaching $40,000. Accounting clerks and assistants earned $40,240, while account collectors took home $36,020 annually.

A certificate in bookkeeping builds credibility for bookkeepers and sets a foundation for continued study. Coursework in a bookkeeping certificate provides a smooth transition into an associate degree in accounting, finance, or a related discipline. With more education and experience, bookkeepers enhance employment opportunities and earning potential alike. Accountants and auditors, who must hold bachelor's degrees, earned an annual mean wage exceeding $70,000 in 2018.

What to Look For in an Online Bookkeeping Certificate Program

When choosing an online bookkeeping certificate, learners should find the program that best meets their personal and professional goals. Certificates comprise 18-45 credit hours and often require internships, which give learners valuable hands-on experience. Students can earn a certificate in 3-4 months. Bookkeeping programs may correspond to national certification exams like those offered by the National Bookkeepers Association and the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers.

Full- and part-time students benefit from the flexibility and convenience of online bookkeeping certificates. Part-time learners may take only one or two classes each year. Professionals can remain in the workforce while earning their credentials. By completing coursework in the evenings, over weekends, or at convenient times for their busy schedules, students in online programs earn their certificates on their terms.

Online certificates are often more affordable than on-campus programs. Online programs typically charge the same tuition rates for in- and out-of-state learners. Moreover, distance learners avoid room and board, parking, and related costs incurred by on-campus learners. Accreditation factors into the choice of a bookkeeping certificate, as well. Colleges and universities hold regional or national accreditation, which extends to most academic programs.

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