15 Affordable Online Bookkeeping Certificate Programs 2021



Earning a bookkeeping certificate online is an affordable way for students to pursue entry-level jobs in accounting. Bookkeepers run the everyday financial duties for a business, including recording transactions, handling payroll, and creating invoices. Students with little or no experience in the field might earn a bookkeeping certificate to better market themselves to potential employers.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), bookkeepers earn a median annual salary of $41,230. According to survey data from PayScale, most bookkeepers also report high levels of job satisfaction.

This guide features a ranking of the best online bookkeeping certificate programs. The annually updated ranking highlights accredited, affordable programs ideal for students looking for the best bookkeeping training options.

2021's Top 10 Cheap Bookkeeping Certificate Programs

Rank School Location
1 Central Wyoming College Riverton, WY
2 Triton College River Grove, IL
3 McHenry County College Crystal Lake, IL
4 Raritan Valley Community College Branchburg, NJ
5 Harper College Palatine, IL
6 Black Hawk College Moline, IL
7 Pima Community College Tucson, AZ
8 Glendale Community College Glendale, CA
9 Moraine Park Technical College Fond du Lac, WI
10 Naugatuck Valley Community College Waterbury, CT

See Detailed Rankings

Why Get a Bookkeeping Certificate Online?

Online bookkeeping certificate programs combine the flexibility of online learning with a fast track to earning job credentials by preparing students to sit for certification tests. Learners who already work in bookkeeping and have some experience in the field may not benefit as much from this certificate as those with no experience looking to break into the industry. However, these programs can serve as a first step toward eventually pursuing a degree in accounting.

In addition to teaching basic skills for maintaining a business's finances, many bookkeeping programs also train students to use common bookkeeping software like QuickBooks, Freshbooks, and Expensify.

  • Self-Paced Learning: Many online bookkeeping certificates allow students to complete coursework asynchronously. This means students can integrate their coursework into their current work obligations.
  • Resume Boost: Earning a certificate in bookkeeping and passing national certifying exams can provide a leg-up on the job market. This credential can demonstrate an applicant's skills and qualifications for a bookkeeping position.
  • Gain Experience: Bookkeeping certificate programs provide students with training experience with accounting software, which allows them to enter the job market knowledgeable and prepared.

Should You Get a Certificate or an Associate Degree?

In contrast with a two-year associate degree, certificate programs are usually completed in one year. Because certificates are shorter, they require less coursework and thus cost less to complete. Students seeking an affordable pathway to a higher credential, or more job opportunities, may find a certificate in bookkeeping the best option.

The table below explores some other key factors that differentiate certificate programs from associate degrees.

Comparing Certificate and Associate Programs
Bookkeeping Certificate Bookkeeping Associate Degree
Cost Typically lower due to lower credit hour requirements May cost more due to more required credits
Program Length One year or less/two semesters At least four semesters/around two years
Course Load Requires 3-12 courses Requires around 20 courses
Types of Classes Focused specifically on bookkeeping, no general education courses required Requires some general education courses in addition to bookkeeping courses
Admission Requirements Generally requires at least a high school diploma, sometimes with work experience Requires a high school diploma, generally with a 2.0 minimum GPA

Bookkeeping Certificate Courses of 2021

These top 15 bookkeeping certificate programs for 2021 can lead you to a new career with minimal financial strain. For more information on how we developed this list, check out the link below.

Our Ranking Methodology

What the Best Bookkeeping Certificates Have in Common

Most bookkeeping certificate programs prepare students for the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB) exams. Candidates who pass these exams earn the nationally recognized certified bookkeeper (CB) designation.

While colleges offer different experiences, formats, and opportunities, all the schools on this list incorporate these quality factors:

  • They are accredited. A school receives accreditation when an outside organization determines it meets standards of educational quality. Schools may hold three major types of accreditation: regional, national, and program-specific. Credits earned through regionally accredited schools typically transfer more easily. Regional accreditation is considered more prestigious than national accreditation. All schools on our list maintain regional accreditation from one of these organizations:

    • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
    • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
    • New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
    • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
    • Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC)

    Schools can earn program-specific accreditations when the curriculum meets standards set by an industry-based organization. Bookkeeping students can look for schools with this accreditation:

    • Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)

  • They offer academic excellence. A school's true quality shines through when it provides the tools, resources, and instruction needed to surpass academic challenges. We review facts like retention and graduation rates to determine whether a college offers the assets needed for students to succeed. We also look at faculty robustness. Better rankings in this category often indicate greater instructor availability to students.

  • They are reputable. A school's reputation can impact employers' perception of the value of educational credentials. In order to highlight schools offering the best value, we examine a school's admission yield and return on investment. The admission yield reveals how many admitted students chose the program over other colleges, and the return on investment often reveals how well the curriculum prepares graduates for the job market.

  • They are affordable. Affordability accounts for a weighted 65% in our rankings for online bookkeeping certificates. We inspect data points including the net price, the percentage of students who receive aid and loans, and the post-graduation debt. Some programs on this list do not qualify for financial aid, but other aspects can balance out the cost. For example, Harper College's certificate program features the smallest credit requirement on this list, and the school assesses all students the same low in-state tuition rates. As a result, the estimated total tuition can be lower than other programs that offer financial aid.

Central Wyoming College

Public two-year college in Riverton, WY, accredited by HLC


CWC fosters core values like critical thinking, communication, and information literacy in students and the surrounding community. The school houses Wyoming PBS, the only public TV station in the state, as part of its mission to make education accessible.

Accounting-Bookkeeping Certificate I

The accounting-bookkeeping program benefits from resources provided by the Wyoming Works project. The project offers grants to students enrolling in programs targeting needs in the state's job market. Professors and board members evaluate the curriculum to ensure that the topics and skills included reflect the current job market.

Students must meet general education requirements before earning a certificate. This rounded approach includes electives covering broad business topics such as computer applications, communications, and marketing. The program focuses on Quickbooks, a current industry standard in accounting, along with other general spreadsheet applications.

CWC's Affordability

CWC's average net price has dropped from $4,968 in 2016-17 down to $4,571 in 2018-19. State residents can enjoy the low tuition rate of $150 per credit, and all students can apply for grants through FAFSA and Wyoming Works.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $150/credit (in state); $199/credit (Western Undergraduate Exchange students); $348/credit (out of state)
  • Required Credits: 31 credits
  • Program Length: 1 year full time
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (synchronous and asynchronous) or hybrid
  • Admissions
    • Process: Application, official transcripts
    • Cost: No cost

Triton College

Public two-year college in River Grove, IL, accredited by HLC and ACBSP


Established in 1964 near downtown Chicago, Triton now serves over 10,000 students each year with 150 degree and certificate programs. The school qualifies as a Hispanic Serving Institution, with Latin-American students accounting for 42% of enrollment.

Bookkeeping Certificate

Triton's bookkeeping certificate online program introduces students to business theory. The core classes cover the full financial cycle applicable to professional bookkeeping. Triton also provides workshops for students to cultivate skills in personal finance and explore professional development opportunities.

The small business accounting seminar looks in depth at micro-business practices and bookkeeping. Students develop software proficiency through QuickBooks courses on managing invoices, accounts, and financial reports. Learners can apply their certificate credits toward an associate degree in accounting.

Triton's Affordability

Online students pay a low $133 per credit tuition rate regardless of residency. Paired with a smaller credit requirement, the projected $2,128 in total tuition can be an affordable option.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $133/credit
  • Required Credits: 16 credits
  • Delivery Format: 100% online or hybrid
  • Admissions
    • Process: Application, high school transcripts or GED certificate
    • Cost: No cost

McHenry County College

Public two-year college in Crystal Lake, IL, accredited by HLC


Founded in 1967, MCC operates on the belief that learning is essential to any community's well-being. The school offers 70 different certificates. Nearly 90% of faculty members hold a master's or doctoral degree.

Bookkeeping Certificate

MCC's bookkeeping certificate online program prepares enrollees to take the AIPB exams for the CB designation. The curriculum prepares students for careers as tax preparers, statistical assistants, and brokerage clerks. Course materials cover the foundations of bookkeeping, including ledgers, bank reconciliations, and maintenance of financial schedules.

Students divide their technical studies between learning QuickBooks and Peachtree General Ledger, popular software for small businesses. Participants can gain real-world experience through internship and job opportunities offered through MCC's business networks. Bookkeeping course credits can also apply to other programs, such as the tax practitioner certificate program.

MCC's Affordability

Online students avoid out-of-district fees and pay a low tuition rate of $112 per credit. Students can apply to MCC's financial aid programs and automatic payment plans.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $112/credit
  • Required Credits: 12 credits
  • Program Length: 16 weeks full time
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (synchronous and asynchronous) or hybrid
  • Admissions
    • Process: Application, high school transcripts or GED certificate
    • Cost: $15

Raritan Valley Community College

Public two-year college in Branchburg, NJ, accredited by MSCHE


RVCC is one of six colleges in the nation to receive the Eduardo J. Padrón Award for Institutional Transformation. The school values sustainability and runs several recognized environmental programs targeted toward achieving carbon neutrality.

Bookkeeper Certificate

RVCC's bookkeeping program develops the necessary skills to work as a full-charge bookkeeper in small and medium businesses. Enrollees study the foundations of business theory and accounting procedures while preparing for the AIPB exams. Courses cover topics such as identifying errors and calculating depreciation.

A payroll accounting seminar examines the laws governing wages, taxes, and ledger transactions. Students also learn how to prevent theft, embezzlement, and identify fraud in the workplace. The curriculum includes an internship opportunity with the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program.

RVCC's Affordability

RVCC charges a low base tuition rate for in-county residents. Students can apply for the New Jersey Community College Opportunity Grant for tuition costs (up to 18 credits per semester) and other fees. RVCC students receive approximately $300,000 in scholarships every year.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $168/credit (in Hunterdon/Somerset county); $228/credit (out of county)
  • Required Credits: 32 credits
  • Program Length: 1 year full time
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (synchronous and asynchronous)
  • Admissions
    • Process: Application, high school transcripts or GED certificate, proof of immunization
    • Cost: $25

Harper College

Public two-year college in Palatine, IL, accredited by HLC and ACBSP


Located in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, Harper serves over 35,000 students every year. Deeply integrated with the community and local businesses, Harper offers many learning and development programs alongside certificates and degrees.

Accounting Bookkeeper/Clerk Certificate

Housed within Harper's ACBSP-accredited business school, the flexible bookkeeping certificate online program consists of eight- and 16-week sessions. The majority of faculty members hold certified public accountant credentials, master's degrees, or a doctorate.

Instead of focusing on specific software, the curriculum divides accounting software by function: databases, word processing, and spreadsheets. This allows enrollees to stay current in the industry and explore trending programs as they arise. Students can also apply bookkeeping credits earned toward the 20-credit advanced account bookkeeper certificate.

Harper's Affordability

With the smallest credit requirement on this list, the low projected tuition costs can make this program a very affordable option. Students can also apply for payment plans through Nelnet with potential for no interest or financing charges.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $134/credit (in state, in district); $391/credit (in state, out of district); $466/credit (out of state)
  • Required Credits: 8 credits
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (synchronous and asynchronous) or hybrid
  • Admissions
    • Process: Application
    • Cost: $25

Black Hawk College

Public two-year college in Moline, IL, accredited by HLC


Located in northwestern Illinois, Black Hawk College got its star in 1946 teaching WWII veterans skills to reintegrate after returning from the war. The school continues this tradition today by offering several benefits to veterans and active service members.

Accounting Clerk Certificate

BHC's accounting clerk certificate introduces students to business operations in small and medium companies. The program delivers courses in eight and 16-week sessions. Enrollees take core accounting classes alongside labs to build practical skills.

Seminars cover topics like proprietorship, partnerships, corporations, and manufacturing. Distance learners apply their skills through QuickBooks labs and Excel spreadsheets. The business relations lectures teach students how to present themselves in professional atmospheres, including organizing meetings and forging relationships with other companies.

BHC's Affordability

BHC offers a flat in-district tuition rate for online students. The school extends several benefits to veterans, active service members, and their families. Eligible applicants may qualify for the Montgomery GI Bill® , which covers a portion of educational expenses while working toward a certificate.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $149/credit
  • Required Credits: 33 credits
  • Program Length: 1 year full time
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (synchronous) or hybrid
  • Admissions
    • Process: Application, high school transcripts or GED certificate
    • Cost: $20

Pima Community College

Public two-year college in Tucson, AZ, accredited by HLC


Pima administers over 150 programs and awarded over 1,100 certificates in the 2019-20 academic year. The college won a national award in 2020 for its redesign of developmental education, and it emphasizes social justice as an essential human right.

Bookkeeping Certificate

Pima's bookkeeping certificate online program shapes the curriculum around bookkeeper certification exams. Lectures incorporate topics such as business ethics and career dilemmas. Students learn to apply accounting principles, record transactions, and navigate software.

Pima maintains good relations with over 300 businesses and professionals for networking opportunities. Students can pursue careers as financial clerks, auditors, and budget analysts. The business school recommends that enrollees begin the program in the spring so they can graduate at the end of the fall semester to align with industry hiring practices.

Pima's Affordability

In-state students pay a low tuition rate — less than $100 per credit — while out-of-state distance learners receive a lower tuition rate than traditional nonresident students. Pima has a tuition cap for students enrolled in more than 15 credits simultaneously, so pursuing the certificate full time can further increase affordability.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $87/credit (in state); $219/credit (out of state)
  • Required Credits: 31 credits
  • Program Length: 1 year full time
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous) or hybrid
  • Admissions
    • Process: Application, high school diploma or GED certificate

Glendale Community College

Public two-year college in Glendale, CA, accredited by ACCJC


Established in 1926 with 139 students, GCC now serves over 25,000 students. The school prepares the next generation of workers for the 21st century with training and knowledge that evolves alongside current technology.

Bookkeeping Certificate

Glendale's curriculum fosters skills with bookkeeping software, databases, and financial systems. Students may select either financial accounting or basic accounting as a core course. With many available electives, enrollees can cater their education to a desired career path with courses focusing on human relations, business law, and marketing.Students can also take the optional business mathematics class to prepare for pre-employment exams. The program concludes with an internship, including an opportunity to apply tax knowledge through the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program.

GCC's Affordability

GCC features the lowest tuition rate on this list for in-state students. Financial aid is available for the program, and California residents may apply for many grants and scholarships. Students can also set up Nelnet payment plans.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $46/credit (in state); $271 (out of state)
  • Required Credits: 25-26 credits
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (synchronous and asynchronous) or hybrid
  • Admissions
    • Process: Application, high school diploma or GED certificate

Moraine Park Technical College

Public two-year college in Fond du Lac, WI, accredited by HLC


MPTC first opened its doors in 1912 and taught practical skills such as barbering, auto mechanics, and home economics. Now the school delivers over 100 career-oriented programs to students in the east-central Wisconsin area and beyond.

Bookkeeper Technical Diploma

At MPTC, bookkeeping students learn to organize and interpret data in technology-driven industries. The curriculum develops the skills to manage small business finances and make savvy business decisions. Enrollees gain hands-on experience through an applied accounting course.

Some required courses follow a 7- to 8-week format, but the program spans two semesters. The first classes introduce students to basic business theory, terminology, and accounting practices. The second semester builds on core concepts, including management of merchandising operations and inventory. Students can apply their bookkeeping credits toward an associate degree, a technical diploma, or an additional certificate in payroll and tax preparation.

MPTC's Affordability

MPTC offers payment plans, and online students pay a low flat tuition rate regardless of residency.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $139/credit
  • Required Credits: 15 credits
  • Program Length: 1 year part time
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (synchronous and asynchronous) or hybrid
  • Admissions
    • Process: Application, high school transcripts or GED certificate
    • Cost: $30

Naugatuck Valley Community College

Public two-year college in Waterbury, CT, accredited by NECHE


Located near the heart of Connecticut, NVCC encourages students to become catalysts of change while preparing for the job market. The school forms a community of lifelong learners who aim for civic awareness and global citizenship.

NVCC Proficiency Certificate - Bookkeeper

NVCC's bookkeeping certificate online is a non-credit program. The curriculum features a quick turnaround to qualify certificate holders for entry-level jobs within six months. Registration is open on a rolling basis. Through these seminars, students prepare for the AIPB exams leading to the official certified bookkeeper credential.

The program's four pillars begin with bookkeeping practices. This class introduces participants to the language of business through core accounting skills. Students then complete three courses tailored toward preparing for bookkeeping exams. NVCC encourages enrollees to take the exams soon after they complete the corresponding courses.

NVCC's Affordability

NVCC's program does not use credits. The registration price covers all books and materials, and the school offers a payment plan.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $2,390/course
  • Program Length: 4 months
  • Delivery Format: Online with some on-campus requirements
  • Admissions
    • Process: Rolling registration
    • Cost: No cost

College of DuPage

Public two-year college in Glen Ellyn, IL, accredited by HLC


First opened in 1967, DuPage originally held classes in office trailers and rented spaces. The long commutes between classes led to the nickname road runners for DuPage students.The school now employs 279 full-time faculty and serves nearly 25,000 students each fall.

Accounting Bookkeeping Certificate

The Business and Applied Technology Division at DuPage integrates emerging methods, technology, and theories into the curriculum. COD's program concentrates on core business techniques like processing transactions and managing a company's financial flow.

Instructors weave real-world experiences and insights into seminars. The program's current software labs include QuickBooks, Microsoft Office, and spreadsheet software. Students can gain early network connections through the college's relationships with industry professionals and companies.

COD's Affordability

Online students enjoy a low flat tuition rate paired with modest credit requirements. COD also offers free workshops through the Center of Entrepreneurship. Topics include government contracts and marketing research.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $138/credit
  • Required Credits: 18-19 credits
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous) or hybrid
  • Admissions
    • Process: Application, high school transcripts or GED certificate
    • Cost: $20

Illinois Central College

Public two-year college in East Peoria, IL, accredited by HLC


Founded in central Illinois in 1966, ICC awards nearly 1,800 certificates and degrees each year. The school's mission promotes accessible higher education and career-focused programs.

Accounting Bookkeeper Certificate

ICC's bookkeeper certificate prepares students for the certified bookkeeping exams.

Due to the higher credit requirement and a capstone course, the program operates more like a short degree than a certificate. Courses micro-focus on specific kinds of accounting for a thorough analysis of the daily tasks students can expect from entry-level jobs.

Students learn to handle leadership roles and decision-making through a managerial accounting seminar. A business communications course prepares students to navigate potential conflicts in the workplace and cross-cultural boundaries in the global marketplace. The capstone course reinforces skills and knowledge from previous courses as a refresher for bookkeeper exams.

ICC's Affordability

Similar per-credit costs apply for residents and nonresidents. The school offers payment plans and financial aid to eligible students. ICC features several accounting scholarships, including the Bill R. Disney Memorial Scholarship which awards $1,500 for tuition, books, and supplies.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $155/credit (in district); $174 (out of district)
  • Required Credits: 32 credits
  • Delivery Format: 100% online
  • Admissions
    • Process: Application, high school diploma or GED certificate
    • Cost: No cost

Del Mar College

Public two-year college in Corpus Christi, TX, accredited by SACSCOC


Founded in 1935, Del Mar College offers affordable higher and continuing education opportunities to Corpus Christi learners and online students around the country. The school proudly serves the Latino community with values centered on diversity and accessibility.

Bookkeeping Occupational Skills Award

Del Mar College offers two types of credited non-degree programs: a traditional certificate and an occupational skills award. The bookkeeping skills program offers a short non-degree credential that prepares students for entry-level jobs.

The school's business administration and entrepreneurship department shapes the curriculum around the needs of local businesses, including what they look for in potential employees. Coursework includes a forensic accounting course where students learn to identify fraud and assess its long-term impact on a business.

Del Mar College's Affordability

Del Mar College students enjoy a low tuition rate for both in-state and out-of-state residents. Students can apply financial aid to the program.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $69/credit (in state); $106/credit (out of state)
  • Required Credits: 12 credits
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (synchronous and asynchronous) or hybrid
  • Admissions
    • Process: Application, high school transcript or GED certificate, test scores
    • Standardized Tests: Texas Success Initiative Placement Exam (TSIA2) or ACT/SAT scores
    • Cost: No cost

San Juan College

Public two-year college in Farmington, NM, accredited by HLC


Founded in 1956, SJC serves approximately 10,000 students each year and offers over 130 degrees and certificates. The school's Quality Center for Business extends resources to the local community and encourages entrepreneurship.

Bookkeeping Certificate

The course schedule begins with a first-year seminar class covering career goals, study tips, and using the college's resources. SJC's bookkeeping certificate prepares students to take the AIPB exams. The program concludes with an internship or the certified bookkeeper capstone course.

The curriculum includes several customizable options between core courses. Tech-savvy students can bypass a general computer course, for example, and enroll in an information literacy course covering metadata and the impact of information systems on business decisions.

SJC's Affordability

The school accepts financial aid and offers payment plans. SJC's in-state tuition is one of the lowest rates on this list, and the school's out-of-state tuition is also comparatively affordable.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $52/credit (in state); $164/credit (out of state)
  • Required Credits: 34-37 credits
  • Program Length: 3 semesters full time
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous)
  • Admissions
    • Process: Online application, high school transcripts or GED certificate
    • Cost: No cost

Northcentral Technical College

Public two-year college in Wausau, WI, accredited by HLC and ACBSP


Established in 1912 near the heart of Wisconsin, NTC provides over 80 online programs with self-paced schedules. The school reports that 94% of its graduates find employment within one year of graduating.

Bookkeeping Technology Certificate

NTC offers flexible self-paced classes. The school's bookkeeping program runs like an accounting boot camp, with enrollees spending most of their time on essential skills, procedures, and business theory.

Courses focus on QuickBooks, spreadsheets, and other software paired with hands-on digital labs and projects. The 10-key by touch class develops proper ergonomics, speed, and accuracy for data entry. Students learn to reach 8,000 keystrokes per hour, a minimum requirement for most positions in the industry.

NTC's Affordability

Online students receive in-state tuition rates for NTC's Virtual College programs regardless of residency. The estimated total tuition cost is $2,085. Students can also apply for a payment plan.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $139/credit
  • Required Credits: 15 credits
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous)
  • Admissions
    • Process: Application, high school transcripts or GED certificate, test scores
    • Standardized Tests: ACT or SAT
    • Cost: $30

What To Expect From a Bookkeeping Certificate

Online bookkeeping certificates are an affordable way to learn new skills without committing to a full degree program. The required courses in these programs focus specifically on bookkeeping and related skills and knowledge, with no general education requirements.

Bookkeeping certificates usually take two semesters to complete. A typical curriculum requires 15-30 credits (3-12 classes). Generally, students can transfer credits from accredited bookkeeping certificate programs toward associate or bachelor's programs in the future.

Earning a bookkeeping certificate online can allow students to complete coursework in accordance with their schedules.

Online options can also help learners save money by eliminating the costs of transportation, parking, or student housing.

Admissions Process

The application and admissions process for bookkeeping certificates varies by program. For instance, community colleges may require applicants to undergo the same admissions process as associate degree students. Programs administered by business organizations, on the other hand, may have different requirements.

Many programs require at least a high school diploma or GED, typically with a minimum 2.0 GPA. Some programs may require applicants to have prior bookkeeping experience. Schools may require standardized test scores, like the ACT or SAT.

Different Certificate Types

Prospective bookkeeping students can take advantage of a variety of program and certificate options. Some online programs offer flexibility and accessibility with asynchronous course delivery. Other programs offer in-person or hybrid options for students interested in classroom learning. Outside of typical academic settings, some organizations and companies offer their own bookkeeper certifications.

Students should also consider which kind of certificate they want. Some programs offer a broader overview of bookkeeping, while shorter programs can focus on one aspect of the career. For instance, students with some bookkeeping experience can pursue specialized training with a specific software, such as QuickBooks, rather than a full bookkeeping certificate.

Some of these more specific certificates require less time and fewer credits, and often cost a flat rate. For instance, the National Bookkeepers Association offers online training and certification options that students can complete in a few months. The type of certificate you pursue should align with your career goals and past work experience.

Popular Bookkeeping Courses

While specific courses vary by program, most bookkeeping certificates require similar fundamental classes. The courses below serve as some examples of typical classes offered in bookkeeping certificate programs.

  • Accounting Fundamentals

    This course covers the basics of accounting, emphasizing the skills used most often by bookkeepers. Students learn about balance sheets, cash flow, and debits and credits. The class explores the fundamentals of revenue and expenses, assets and liabilities, and income statements.

  • Introduction to Business

    This course explores the basics of business. This includes fundamentals in economics, tax and filing laws, and company marketing concepts.

  • Introduction to QuickBooks

    Introductory courses to QuickBooks cover the basics of using the software. As the primary program bookkeepers use to manage finances, this course provides the skills necessary to navigate the interface.

  • Financial Reports

    QuickBooks and other bookkeeping software produce financial reports necessary for tax and income reporting. This course highlights the importance of these reports and emphasizes how to read and interpret them. This class may also explore how to translate these reports into other formats, and how to use them to inform business decisions.


How Much Do Bookkeeping Certificates Cost?

The cost of a bookkeeping certificate varies based on several factors.

Public schools generally charge lower tuition rates than private institutions. In-state students typically pay lower rates than out-of-state learners. Online programs sometimes offer flat-rate options, or allow out-of-state students to pay in-state tuition.

But tuition is not the only expense: Online learning requires access to a laptop and a reliable internet connection, which most schools do not provide. Other costs like required textbooks and software licenses should also factor into a student's budget.

Earning a certificate prior to pursuing a degree can get students into the workforce and earning money faster. Credits earned in a certificate program can often then transfer towards an associate or bachelor's degree.

Students in bookkeeping certificate programs may take advantage of some financial aid options, including loans, scholarships, and grants.

Bookkeeping Jobs and Salaries

Learning the fundamentals of finance, business, software, and accounting make certified bookkeepers marketable for jobs in a number of industries. In addition to jobs available to certificate holders, further learning can provide more opportunities for careers with higher education requirements. Jobs in fields like accounting and auditing often require at least an associate or bachelor's degree, and earning a bookkeeping certificate can prepare students for these programs.

The jobs listed below serve as examples of some available careers to those with a bookkeeping certificate.

Bookkeeping Clerks

Bookkeepers use bookkeeping software to digitally manage the financial logs and ledgers for businesses and organizations. They find employment in many industries, sometimes working as freelance contractors or consultants to help multiple businesses with payroll and finance management.


  • Required Education: Certificate/some college
  • Job Outlook (2019-29): -6%
  • Median Annual Salary: $41,230
Secretaries and Administrative Assistants

Administrative assistants sometimes handle bookkeeping tasks, including managing ledgers and logs. They direct phone calls, set appointments, prepare invoices, and handle all incoming and outgoing mail. These assistants work in all kinds of fields and settings, including doctor's offices and legal offices.


  • Required Education: High school diploma
  • Job Outlook (2019-29): -9%
  • Median Annual Salary: $39,850
Bill and Account Collectors

Bill and account collectors get in contact with businesses and individuals with overdue bills. Generally, companies sell debts to companies that hire bill collectors, who are responsible for contacting the people whose debt they oversee. They may work for private debt collection agencies or within a larger corporation.


  • Required Education: High school diploma
  • Job Outlook (2019-29): -6%
  • Median Annual Salary: $37,000
Accountants and Auditors

With further education, certified bookkeepers can pursue careers in accounting. Accountants analyze and examine financial records to ensure individuals and businesses comply with financial laws and regulations. They assist in preparing and filing tax returns and ensure taxes are paid at the proper rates and times.


  • Required Education: Bachelor's degree
  • Job Outlook (2019-29): +4%
  • Median Annual Salary: $71,550

Selecting the Right Affordable Certificate Program

Choosing the right bookkeeping certificate online program should include careful consideration of a variety of factors. Some of these key factors to consider include:

Cost and Financial Aid

Consider the overall cost to complete the program versus available financial aid options. Some programs offer flat-rate tuition. Others have discounted rates for online learners, including in-state tuition rates for out-of-state students. Look into available financial aid, including loans, scholarships, and grants.

Transferability

Consider whether you want to build upon your certificate with an associate or bachelor's degree in the future. Look into whether credits earned in each bookkeeping certificate program can transfer toward this further education.

Program Length

Consider how long you want to spend earning your certificate. Many programs require around two semesters to complete, but others may offer accelerated or shortened timelines to get certified.

Available Certifications

Some certificate programs may offer additional certifications in specific software, like QuickBooks or Excel. Earning these additional certifications can bolster your resume and qualifications.

Admission Requirements

Some schools may require prior work experience for admission, while others may not hold any requirements beyond a high school diploma.

Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you get a bookkeeping certificate?
You can earn a bookkeeping certificate online through schools or business organizations. Many two-year colleges offer certificate options that students can complete in about a year.
What's the difference between a bookkeeping certificate and certification?
Bookkeeping certificates generally entail more coursework than a certification. Certificates may take more time because they cover a broader curriculum, whereas certifications are more focused and can often be completed in a matter of weeks or months.
How much does a bookkeeping program cost?
The cost of a bookkeeping certificate program varies. Factors like enrollment, the type of institution, credit hour requirements, and in-state status all influence the overall cost of a certificate program.
What can you do with a bookkeeping certificate?
The skills gained from a bookkeeping certificate program prepare learners for careers in business, finance, and accounting. This certification can also count towards a two- or four-year degree in accounting or business.
Is it worth becoming a certified bookkeeper?
Yes. Certification offers an advantage over other candidates on the job market by highlighting your skills and credentials. This certification also provides important skills in key software and management areas valuable in a variety of jobs.

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