The Best Online Accounting Certificate Programs

Compiled and Written By Staff

Online accounting certificates teach intermediate accounting skills, ideal for those looking to begin or advance their accounting careers. Nearly 1.5 million accountants work in the United States, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 6% job growth rate for accountants and auditors from 2018-2028.

Here Are Our Top 10 Best Accounting Certificate Programs:

Rank School Location
1 Northwestern University Chicago, IL
2 University of California-Berkeley Berkeley, CA
3 Northeastern University Boston, MA
4 Foothill College Los Altos Hills, CA
5 University of Massachusetts-Lowell Lowell, MA
6 Brigham Young University-Idaho Rexburg, ID
7 Linfield College McMinnville, OR
8 Framingham State University Framingham, MA
9 University of Virginia Charlottesville, VA
10 Pennsylvania State University University Park, PA

What Is an Accounting Certificate?

Accounting certificates typically comprise 6-12 accounting courses, depending on the school and program. Due to their short length, accounting certificates can take as little as one semester to complete. To accommodate working professionals, colleges and universities often offer accounting certificates entirely online.

Some accounting certificates help non-accounting students gain knowledge of the field and transition into accounting careers. Others provide current accountants with the credits needed to qualify for the certified public accountant (CPA) exam. Some certificate programs also let learners explore niche accounting fields, such as forensic accounting or financial accounting.

Best Online Accounting Certificate Programs for 2020

When comparing online accounting certificate programs, prospective students should consider factors like cost, program outcomes, and requirements. For example, some certificates require bachelor's degrees, while others do not.

Colleges and universities design online accounting certificates with specific students in mind, and each program offers unique advantages. This guide ranks the top online accounting certificates in the country to help students find the right program for their needs.


Northwestern University

Northwestern University is one of the nation’s most selective, most prestigious, and wealthiest universities. Dating back to 1851, when it was founded the serve the Northwest Territory, Northwestern was a force in making Chicago, IL, a business and industry giant. As Chicago grew up alongside Northwestern, the university became a major research university, particularly as a business and professional educator. With an endowment in the national top 10 and one of the lowest acceptance rates in the US, Northwestern combines excellence and reputation.

While Northwestern’s acceptance rate for undergraduates is only 9%, working adults and professionals can get the Northwestern name and quality another way. The Northwestern School of Professional Studies is the university’s adult learning division, providing degrees and credentialing for working professionals. Northwestern’s Online Fundamentals of Accounting Certificate Program prepares students with the basics of the accounting field, either for further schooling, or for taking the CPA exam. The flexible online format allows students to continue their jobs and extracurricular responsibilities while earning life-changing credentials.

Required Credits: 5 courses


University of California, Berkeley

The flagship public research university in California, and a recognized Public Ivy (a public university as esteemed as the Ivy League), the University of California, Berkeley is often ranked the best public university in the nation. And while Berkeley may be the model college for undergraduates, Berkeley Extension is a model of adult education. Bringing all of the educational excellence of Berkeley, along with affordable, flexible online courses taught by experienced, expert practitioners, Berkeley Extension is ideal for working adults who want challenge and support.

Berkeley is also home to the Haas School of Business, one of the world’s most respected business schools. Graduates of the Haas School have an unparalleled level of job market advantage, and Berkeley Extension’s Certificate Program in Accounting has the Haas School stamp of approval. With 6 required courses adding up to 24 credits, the accounting certificate is designed to prepare students to pass the CPA exam. Low cost, flexible online scheduling, and a short time frame make UC Berkeley Extension’s accounting certificate an ideal choice for career-changing professionals and other non-traditional students.

Required Credits: 6 courses


Northeastern University

A top-tier, Carnegie Classification R1 research university, Northeastern University is one of the most admired and imitated institutions in New England. Founded in 1898, Northeastern has always had nontraditional adult education at its heart; in fact, the university began as a night school for working-class students held in the Boston YMCA. Northeastern is known for its cooperative education, combining work experience with classroom education, a system that has been influential in higher education, and is ranked the #40 national university by U.S. News.

Northeastern’s College of Professional Studies is the institutional home of the university’s adult education programs, including Northeastern’s Undergraduate Certificate in Accounting. This convenient online certificate program is intended to help working adults earn the credentials they need to start a new career in accounting. Professionals already working in bookkeeping or other administrative roles may also find the certificate beneficial for skill improvement and advancement. The trusted Northeastern name makes the online accounting certificate a valuable credential for the accounting job market.

Required Credits: 18 credits


Foothill College

Recognized as one of California’s top community colleges – a state filled with community colleges that could outrank many national 4-year colleges – Foothill College is known throughout the Los Altos Hills region as a quality career educator. Dating back to 1957, Foothill rejected the then-standard “junior college” name, dedicating its faculty and resources to higher education on their own terms. Today, Foothill College serves more than 13,000 students and offers a wide selection of highly respected certificates and associate’s degrees.

The Foothill College offers several different levels of accounting certificate online. The Financial Accounting Career Certificate requires 25 credits, while the Tax Accounting Career Certificate requires 27; for the Certificate of Achievement in CPA Examination Preparation, 40 credits (8 courses) are required. These certificate programs give students a broad picture of the elements of accounting for businesses, individuals, government, and nonprofits, and prepare students to sit for the CPA exam (with a previous bachelor’s degree), or to go on to further schooling. Foothill’s well-known quality, experienced faculty, and convenience have made it a solid choice for over half a century.

Required Credits: 25 credits


University of Massachusetts - Lowell

Part of the nationally-ranked and globally-recognized UMass system, the University of Massachusetts Lowell began as two separate institutions: a teacher training school founded in 1894, and a technical school founded in 1895. When the two merged in 1975, Massachusetts had a new public research university, one rooted in practical, career-centered education for working adults. Since the beginning of the 21st century, UMass Lowell has risen to national prominence and proven one of the fastest-rising institutions in U.S. News & World Report’s national rankings. That’s a good sign for prospective students.

UMass Lowell is quickly becoming a regional and national leader in areas like engineering, health, and business, and its adult education programs are some of the best examples of their kind. The Division of Online & Continuing Education offers UMass Lowell’s Certificate Program in Accounting, a 5-course, 18-credit curriculum designed for working adults. Applicants should already have a bachelor’s degree in another field; the accounting certificate program enhances a student’s current career with accounting knowledge. The certificate can also fulfill prerequisites for an accounting master’s program, for students who want to change careers. In either case, UMass Lowell is a trusted name on the job market.

Required Credits: 18 credits


Brigham Young University - Idaho

Brigham Young University-Idaho was founded in 1888 by Mormon migrants settling the Snake River Plain. Like Latter-Day Saints in Utah, the LDS church in Idaho was escaping persecution and seeking to establish their own home, and a frontier academy was an important part of that plan. Through the 20th century, what was then known as Ricks College grew as it expanded programs, especially for working students, and in 2000 it was renamed Brigham Young University-Idaho in honor of the Mormon leader. BYU-I is known for its top-notch undergraduate education, affordability, and student outreach, including online programs.

The BYU-Idaho online accounting certificate program is designed to prepare students for an entry-level accounting job in a corporate, small business, or government setting. The certificate requires at least 15-19 credits, depending on the courses the student chooses, including fundamentals of accounting software, communication, and law. The certificate is designed as an entryway into an accounting bachelor’s degree as well, providing the prerequisites required for acceptance into most accounting programs. BYU-Idaho is widely recognized as a best value for its affordable tuition and strong student support, and it is a trusted name across the west.

Required Credits: 15 credits


Linfield College

Linfield College is one of the oldest private colleges in the Pacific Northwest, founded in 1858 by members of the Christian Church. For many years, Linfield was a traditional small liberal arts college with a Christian worldview, but the founding of the Continuing Education division started a new era for Linfield. Long recognized for academic rigor and excellence, today Linfield is even better known for its top-ranked online degree programs. U.S. News & World Report has ranked Linfield one of the nation’s best online educators, providing an educational opportunity for residents of Oregon and beyond.

The Linfield online Post-Baccalaureate Accounting Certificate is a fully online program designed for working professionals who want to add accounting credentials to their current bachelor’s degree. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in another field, and make up any prerequisites, such as Financial Accounting and Managerial Accounting. Students are prepared for careers in accounting, including business, government, and family or individual accounting. The Linfield online accounting certificate can be the start of a new career or enhance a current career.

Required Credits: 24 credits


Framingham State University

Framingham State University is a historic public university dedicated to practical, career-oriented education for Massachusetts’ people. Founded in 1839, Framingham State was the nation’s first normal school – a teacher training program that revolutionized teacher preparation. From those auspicious beginnings, Framingham State set a course for education that meets the needs of society, whether it be the one-room schoolhouses of yesteryear or 21st-century urban life. Known for its excellent nursing, education, and business programs, Framingham State is also a crucial part of education for working adults in Massachusetts.

The Framingham State online Undergraduate Certificate in Accounting is a 6-course program designed for students with a high school diploma or GED to learn the basics of accounting. Students learn the fundamentals of accounting, from teamwork and the accountant’s role in a company, to the technical aspects of analyzing data and preparing documents. Students are qualified for entry-level accounting positions, or for further schooling, with Framingham State’s reputation for quality and value to guide them.

Required Credits: 6 courses


University of Virginia

One of the most illustrious public research universities in America, the University of Virginia was founded in 1819 by President Thomas Jefferson as an example of his educational philosophy. Through the next two centuries, UVA grew into one of the world’s foremost research institutions, proving as influential in politics, arts, and culture as it is groundbreaking in medicine, science, and entrepreneurship. The UVA name is an advantage on the job market rivaling the Ivy League, and UVA ranks as one of the top 25 public universities in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report.

The UVA online Undergraduate Accounting Certificate provides UVA quality and reputation in a flexible, affordable format. Part-time students can earn the 30-credit accounting certificate entirely online in less than two years, earning a foundation in accounting basics that can provide access to entry-level accounting jobs. Students need only a high school diploma to apply, but to sit for the CPA exam, students must have a bachelor’s degree in some field (though not necessarily accounting). It’s a UVA credential with all the excellence that name implies, but the convenience of an online certificate.

Required Credits: 30 credits


Penn State World Campus

Pennsylvania State University – regularly cited among the Public Ivies, and one of the most influential public research universities in the nation – has been dedicated to the educational needs of Pennsylvanians since 1855. While Penn State has always made accessibility and practical value part of its mission, the university reached a milestone when it opened the Penn State World Campus in 1998. One of the first fully online divisions started by a top-tier university, the Penn State World Campus is widely ranked as one of the greatest online educators in the world, and is now the second-largest college at Penn State, with more than 18,000 students.

In addition to full degrees, Penn State World Campus offers numerous certificate programs, including the Penn State online Graduate Certificate in Accounting. The online accounting certificate can be a stand-alone certificate designed for students who already have a bachelor’s degree to earn accounting credentials. It can also be used as the first step toward a master’s degree in accounting, for students who have a bachelor’s degree in a non-accounting field. Either way, the Penn State name and reputation, promise the highest level of instruction and success in the accounting job market.

Required Credits: 12 credits


Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University traces its roots back to a small accounting school founded in 1932 as a for-profit training program, so it should be no surprise that SNHU is a national leader in accounting education. However, the SNHU of yesteryear is not the SNHU of today, by a long shot, and it’s all because of online education. From its first online degree programs in 1995, Southern New Hampshire has grown into one of the most prominent names in online education. Using its early adoption of online formats, SNHU has earned recognition from publications like U.S. News & World Report and Fast Company as one of the most innovative institutions in higher education.

The SNHU online Undergraduate Certificate in Accounting brings nearly a century of expertise in accounting into the modern age with a flexible online format. Students learn the basics of accounting, from preparing documents to managerial skills, all online. SNHU is known for its quality faculty, student support, and job market reputability; SNHU’s more than 80,000 online students can attest to quality and effectiveness. Students may also use the online certificate as a starting point for a full bachelor’s degree in accounting or simply go right into their accounting jobs with confidence.

Required Credits: 12 credits


Auburn University

Alabama’s foremost public research university, Auburn University was founded in 1856 as a Methodist liberal arts college, but in 1872 was taken over by the state as Alabama’s land-grant research university. That land-grant heritage means that Auburn combines the highest level of research and education with a dedication to accessibility, practicality, and affordability. The Harbert College of Business, in particular, is one of the best-known and most trusted business schools in the south, with well over a century of history and U.S. News & World Report top 100 ranking.

The Harbert College offers Auburn’s online Undergrad Certificate in Accounting, accredited by the AACSB and designed for convenience. Auburn’s distance program uses recordings of on-campus accounting courses alongside electronic assignments to help students get the convenience of online, but more of the classroom experience. Only second-degree students are admitted; applicants must already have a bachelor’s degree in another field, and full-time students may be able to complete the program in as little as a year. All the quality and support of an Auburn degree, with flexible online delivery, make Auburn’s undergraduate accounting certificate a top choice.

Required Credits: 24 credit hours


University of Massachusetts - Dartmouth

The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth was founded as Massachusetts’ public technology school, merging two earlier technical schools in 1962. With its roots in technical education, particularly in textiles (once a main industry in Massachusetts), UMass Dartmouth was perfectly suited to the practical programs in applied science, business, management, and architecture. That tradition continues today, through UMass Dartmouth’s significant outreach to working adult students, and its commitment to accessible, market-ready, career-focused education. UMass Dartmouth’s strong reputation has helped it grow from regional prominence to national recognition in recent years, boding well for graduates.

UMass Online offers the UMass Dartmouth online Certificate in Accounting for second-degree students. This 30-credit, one-year program is designed for students who already have a bachelor’s degree in another field and want to improve their accounting skills, or change careers. The UMass Online accounting certificate qualifies students to sit for the CPA exam in Massachusetts (though non-business degree holders may need some additional accounting credits). This blended hybrid program may also require some campus visits. Whether business, engineering, or some other profession, students may find the accounting certificate a valuable enhancement to their career.

Required Credits: 30 credits


California State University, San Bernardino

Part of the California State University system – one of the largest and most accomplished public higher education systems in the US – Cal State San Bernardino is central to education in the Inland Empire region of California. Founded in 1960, CSUCB has always been focused on the educational needs of the people of the Inland Empire, a highly diverse region; its mission puts inclusivity, social justice, and innovation at the heart of education. Cal State San Bernardino is one of the most diverse colleges in the nation, with a large Hispanic population, and a commitment to social mobility and uplift.

Online degree programs give CSUSB a greater reach than the university could have otherwise, providing opportunity to far more students. That includes the Cal State San Bernardino Accounting Certificate, a fully online certificate program designed for working professionals who want to enter an accounting career. The online certificate gives students the first steps toward a master’s degree in accounting, or to prepare for the CPA exam, with a 36-credit, intensive program. With accelerated terms, students can take 2 courses at a time to finish their certificate in only 6 months, getting a jump on their degree, or into entry-level accounting jobs.

Required Credits: 36 units


Liberty University

Founded by evangelist Jerry Falwell in 1971, Liberty University spent most of its early history as a small bible college, but today, Liberty is one of the largest, most influential and far-reaching Christian universities in the nation. Much of Liberty’s success in the 21st century has been due to its embracing adult education and online degree programs, which helped its student body swell from hundreds to tens of thousands. Today, Liberty has more than 15,000 on-campus students, and more than 100,000 online students, making it the largest Christian college, and a political and educational force.

The Liberty Undergraduate Certificate in Accounting is a fully online program from Liberty’s well-known School of Business. The accounting certificate focuses not only on the technical skills of accounting, such as computer software and document preparation, but also on communication, managerial leadership, and ethical decision-making, Liberty’s priority. With a foundation in Bible-based Christianity, the Liberty accounting certificate is part of Liberty’s dedication to developing responsible leaders in business, and to transforming students’ lives for the better.

Required Credits: 18 credits


Champlain College

Champlain College has had practical adult education, particularly in business and accounting, since it began in 1878 as a small business college. Through the 20th century it grew to importance in Vermont’s largest city (which, by national standards, looks more like a small college town), and remained dedicated to preparing students for successful careers. Champlain took on a new era when it began offering its first fully online degree programs in 1993, a time when online education was almost an absurd idea. Building on its enthusiasm for innovation, Champlain is regularly ranked one of the top online educators in the US.

Champlain College’s Online Undergraduate Certificate in Accounting is a simple, trusted way to enter the accounting profession quickly and conveniently. The Champlain name is respected across New England, and Champlain’s faculty are some of the best business professors in the world. This 15-credit program is designed specifically for busy adult learners, with flexible scheduling that makes it possible to complete the program in just one year. From financial reports and bookkeeping to income tax, graduates are completely prepared for an entry-level accounting job, from one of the most prestigious names in business education.

Required Credits: 15 credits


Lone Star College

Lone Star College is one of the largest and fastest-growing community college systems in the nation, centered around the greater Houston, TX metropolitan area. Founded in 1972, Lone Star now consists of six campuses and two centers throughout the region around Houston, with well over 80,000 enrolled students taking a wide range of degree and certificate programs. As a public community college, Lone Star is committed to affordability, accessibility, and applicability, focusing on the programs that are needed most in Houston and in Texas generally. Lone Star’s reputation is steadily rising, and articulation agreements help Lone Star students transfer easily to any public Texas university.

Prospective accountants can get a quick start on their career, while also preparing for bachelor’s or master’s programs in accounting, with Lone Star College’s Accounting Certificate. Available at numerous campuses and fully online, the accounting certificate is a 1-year program that provides workforce training to get working adults into their accounting jobs faster. The accounting certificate provides the necessary prerequisites for transferring into a bachelor’s program or can be combined with general education courses to complete an AAS degree. Whatever students choose to do with their certificate, it’s an affordable, convenient way to start a whole new life.

Required Credits: 18 credits


University of Louisville

The University of Louisville is one of the oldest universities west of the Alleghenies, founded in 1798 when Kentucky was still rugged frontier, and Louisville was just a growing river town. After more than a century and a half as a local, municipally-owned college, UL joined the Kentucky State University System, using the greater resources of the state to extend its outreach and opportunity. Today, UL is a crucial part of research and professional education, from medicine and engineering to business, and is ranked as one of U.S. News & World Report’s top 100 public universities.

The University of Louisville has long made opportunity for working adults one of its priorities, and the online UL Certificate in Accounting makes adult education convenient. This fully online, 21-credit program is designed to prepare students for the Kentucky CPA exam; however, more business courses are required to sit for the exam. The Certificate in Accounting is especially helpful for students who already have a bachelor’s degree in another field, but who want to move into accounting, whether nonprofit, government, or private industry.

Required Credits: 21 credits


University of Baltimore

The University of Baltimore is a comprehensive public university focused on programs essential to urban life, including law, applied sciences, and business. Founded in 1925, UB was intended to provide an opportunity to nontraditional students from its very beginning, when it started offering night classes for working adults in a row house. The heritage of outreach has continued for nearly a century, as night classes grew into a junior college, college, and university. Today, UB is intimately connected to Baltimore’s government, business, and society, and provides a wide range of programs from certificates to master’s and professional degrees.

The University of Baltimore online Upper-Division Certificate in Accounting comes from the Merrick School of Business, which has been ranked one of the best online and undergraduate business schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. This 24-30 credit program is designed for working professionals who already have a bachelor’s degree in another field, but want the credentials to move into accounting. The Certificate in Accounting qualifies graduates to sit for the Maryland CPA exam, and to enter the accounting job market with confidence.

Required Credits: 24 credits


Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota

Founded in 1912 by the De La Sallian Christian Brothers – a monastic order dedicated to education and service – Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota is a highly respected Catholic liberal arts university. Originally a small religious school for men, serving just the local area around Winona, MN, Saint Mary’s grew through the 20th century into a student body of nearly 6000 US and international students. Students are drawn to Saint Mary’s reputation for excellence, academic rigor, and religious commitment. Saint Mary’s is ranked in the top 50 regional Midwestern universities by U.S. News & World Report.

The Saint Mary’s Undergraduate Certificate in Accounting online program is designed for working adults who want to add accounting credentials to their current bachelor’s degree. Whether that degree is in business or another field, the 24-30 credit certificate prepares students for careers in accounting, as well as the CMA and CPA exams. Saint Mary’s generous transfer policy can make the process even shorter. With a focus not only on the technical skills of accounting, but also business ethics and law, Saint Mary’s is dedicated to making responsible professionals.

Required Credits: 24 credits


Ivy Tech Community College

Ivy Tech Community College is Indiana’s community college system, with 45 locations, 150-degree programs, and more than 1000 online classes. Founded in 1963 during a national boom in technical colleges, Ivy Tech grew quickly in response to the unprecedented need for quality career education for working adults throughout Indiana. From applied sciences and healthcare to business and information technology, more than 150,000 students across Indiana start their education and career at Ivy Tech. Low tuition rates and a wealth of opportunities has made Ivy Tech a critical part of Indiana’s workforce. Tech’s accounting certificate program offers several options for students looking to begin an accounting career online. For students looking for a shorter program, an 18-credit certificate for Bookkeeping, Enrolled Agent, or Fundamental Payroll can get students into careers in human resources offices or business offices in just two semesters. For a more in-depth preparation, the 30-credit Accounting Technical Certificate can take 2-3 semesters of full-time study, but qualifies graduates for higher-level accounting jobs. In any case, the low cost and high quality of Ivy Tech’s online certificates make for a low-risk start to a rewarding career.

Required Credits: 18-31 credits


Colorado Christian University

Colorado Christian University dates back to a small bible college founded in 1914, but today CCU is better known as Colorado’s foremost private, interdenominational Christian university. That growth and development have been fueled by a reputation not only for the highest quality of undergraduate education, but for exceptional adult education programs as well. With more than 100 degree programs and a reputation for combining academic rigor with Christian faith, Colorado Christian University is regularly ranked among the best Christian colleges nationwide.

The CCU Online Certificate in Accounting comes from the College of Adult and Graduate Studies, one of Colorado’s strongest adult education schools. CCU’s certificate is designed for convenience and speed, with accelerated 5-week terms and just 12 credits required. The certificate is flexible as well, serving either as a stand-alone credential, transferable credits toward a bachelor’s degree in accounting, or an added credential to a business or non-accounting bachelor’s. Along with technical skills, the CCU accounting certificate focuses on values-based decision-making and ethically responsible leadership. From one of the nation’s leading Christian schools, the CCU accounting certificate is a keeper.

Required Credits: 12 credits


Post University

Founded in 1890 as a secretarial school, Post University is a rarity – a regionally accredited, highly-ranked for-profit private university. Based on its roots, which emphasized bookkeeping, shorthand, and other secretarial skills, Post grew into a business school, then a full university focused on career and professional study. Since the 1970s, when Post began offering accelerated courses for service members, the university has made distance education a priority. Post now stands as one of the finest online educators in the nation, regularly ranked among the top online bachelor’s institutions in the US.

Post University’s online Certificate in Accounting is a post-baccalaureate program designed for working professionals who want to add accounting credentials to an already existing bachelor’s. A thorough 36-credit program gives adult students everything they need to qualify for the CPA exam in Connecticut, as well as enter a satisfying accounting career at a status higher than entry-level. From technical skills to law and management, Post’s accounting certificate covers it all, giving graduates entry to the accounting job market with confidence.

Required Credits: 36 credits


University of Alaska - Fairbanks

Alaska’s flagship public research university, the University of Alaska Fairbanks is a land, sea, space, and sun-grant institution dedicated to learning and discovery for Alaska’s people. Dating back to an agricultural research station founded in 1906, UAF has been at the center of Alaska’s development since well before Alaska was a state, providing degrees since 1917. For a solid century, UAF has not only researched and tended the needs of Alaska’s land, but her people, with academic and professional degrees from engineering to education. Online degree programs have made it even easier for UAF to reach out to Alaska’s far-flung populace.

UAF’s Accounting Technician Certificate provides students with a short, effective foundation for an entry-level position in the accounting profession. For full-time students, the 30-credit program can be completed in just one year, and the flexible scheduling and convenience of UAF’s online format allows students to continue working and tending to family needs. UAF’s accounting certificate focuses on payroll, human resources, bookkeeping, and other basic accounting skills, as well as communication and technology. This broad and effective program allows graduates to find their place in the accounting job market with ease.

Required Credits: 30 credits


University of Alaska - Southeast

A small, public university in Alaska’s capital city, Juneau, the University of Alaska Southeast serves a small population in a large area. That’s because Juneau is one of the largest cities in the nation by area – larger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined – but with just over 30,000 residents. UA Southeast has three campuses and offers numerous highly desirable, highly necessary degree programs in the health sciences, technology and computers, business, and so on. With its wide-ranging mission, UAS is also making extensive use of online education and earning national recognition for it.

The UAS online Accounting Technician Certificate program comes from the School of Management, part of UAS’s Department of Business and Public Administration. Students in the accounting certificate program work through a thorough curriculum of accounting fundamentals, from business mathematics to financial, managerial, and payroll accounting. Students also take courses in psychology, writing, and management, as well as computing, to get a well-rounded accounting education. That helps UAS students make the most of their certificate on the accounting job market and in entry-level and higher accounting jobs.

Required Credits: 30 credits

Why Get an Accounting Certificate?

Many students earn accounting certificates to begin careers in the field. Certificates take less time to complete and cost less than a degree, though many accounting certificate students choose to continue their education.

Future Accounting Education

Some students complete accounting certificates to prepare for an associate or bachelor's degree in accounting. Ideal for learners interested in entry-level accounting positions, associate degrees in accounting typically take two years to complete, though some schools accept transfer credits from accounting certificates, which can expedite graduation. Bachelor's degrees in accounting prepare students for higher-level accounting positions and usually take four years of full-time study to complete.

Students who already have a bachelor's degree in accounting sometimes pursue an online master's degree in accounting after earning an online accounting certificate. Some master's programs allow certificate-holders to transfer some or all credits directly into the program, reducing degree time and cost. Master's in accounting graduates typically meet the 150-credit requirement to sit for the CPA exam.

Accounting Certificate Careers

While some accounting positions require bachelor's or master's degrees, certificates in accounting can lead to positions such as financial clerk, bookkeeper, and accounting clerk.

Financial Clerk

Financial clerks can work as administrators in all types of businesses and organizations. Duties may include calculating bills, performing financial transactions, and maintaining financial records. The BLS projects a 5% job growth rate for financial clerks between 2018-2028.

Annual Median Salary: $40,540


Bookkeepers maintain financial records for businesses and organizations, using bookkeeping software and spreadsheets to record accounting information. Bookkeepers keep track of debits and credits; create financial statements; and compile data from cashiers, receipts, and checks. The BLS projects a slight decline in demand for bookkeepers between 2018-2028.

Annual Median Salary: $41,230

Accounting Clerk

Similar to bookkeepers, accounting clerks detail transactions, balance accounts, and monitor financials. They also determine interest charges, balance vouchers, and code documents. Though not required, the BLS notes that some accounting clerks earn certificates to validate their skills.

Annual Median Salary: $41,230

How Much Do Accounting Majors Make?

Accounting salaries vary by education, experience, and location. Generally, the more education students complete, the higher their potential salary.

Certificate in Accounting Careers: Median Salaries by Experience
Career Annual Median Salary Projected Growth Rate Degree Required CPA Certification Required? (Y/N)
Financial Clerk $40,540 5% None N
Bookkeeper $41,230 -4% None N
Accounting Clerk $41,230 -4% None N
Accountant and Auditor $71,550 6% Bachelor's Y
Cost Estimator $65,250 9% Bachelor's N
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Typical Accounting Certificate Coursework

Most accounting programs start with beginner accounting courses and move on to intermediate and advanced accounting topics. All accounting certificates include core courses, and some allow students to complete elective accounting courses to diversify their education.

Each accounting certificate sets its own goals and student outcomes, so required courses vary by program. However, all accounting certificates teach students basic accounting and financial skills for accounting careers. Prospective students can anticipate taking some or all of the following courses while completing online accounting certificates.

  • Managerial Accounting

    Managerial accounting introduces the potential short- and long-term impacts of financial decisions. Students learn to apply accounting practices to improve performance, cut costs, and stabilize businesses' financials.

  • Financial Accounting

    In this course, students learn about the accounting cycle and how businesses use financial statements while following regulations. Financial accounting also teaches learners to analyze information and communicate that information to executives.

  • Federal Taxation

    Federal taxation covers current U.S. tax laws and the Internal Revenue Code. Students learn to apply tax laws to various situations, for both corporate and individual tax purposes.

  • Financial Statement Analysis

    Usually taken after financial accounting, financial statement analysis courses cover the applications of financial statements. Course topics may include liquidity, solvency, and valuations.

  • Accounting Ethics

    Accountants and auditors regularly work with sensitive financial information. In accounting ethics courses, students learn to comply with rules, regulations, and ethical standards.

How to Choose an Online Accounting Certificate Program

With dozens of high-caliber online accounting certificate programs to choose from, future learners may struggle to select the perfect program. Each certificate offers specific benefits, so applicants should compare factors to decide which program fits best. We outline several key considerations for prospective accounting certificate students below.

School Size

Large schools may offer more program options, but small schools may offer more personalized attention from faculty.

Cost/Financial Aid

Some certificate in accounting programs offer lower tuition rates than others. They may also offer financial aid packages.


Attending a local online accounting certificate program may provide students with optional on-campus activities that they can use to enhance their studies and advance their careers.

Program Length

Certificates in accounting typically require 6-12 courses. Students should ensure the length of the program they choose aligns with their scheduling needs.

University Resources/Career Services

Learners should research the student support services and resources at prospective schools. For example, some programs connect students and graduates with employment opportunities.


When reviewing applications, future employers look closely at education. Applicants who earn certificates from well-respected institutions gain a competitive edge in the job market.

Earning Potential

Each certificate leads to specific outcomes. Students should ensure the program they choose aligns with their career and salary goals.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get an accounting certificate?
Students must enroll in an accounting certificate program and complete 6-12 courses, depending on the program.
What's the difference between an accounting certificate and certification?
Colleges and universities offer accounting certificates to demonstrate graduates' education. Organizations offer certification to demonstrate professionals' acumen. Certifications do not typically require additional coursework.
What can you do with an accounting certificate?
Professionals with accounting certificates can work in roles like bookkeeper and financial clerk. Those who continue their education can work as accountants and auditors.
How much does an accounting certificate program cost?
Tuition varies by school and program. However, applicants should prepare to spend $8,000-$10,000 on a certificate.
Is an accounting certificate worth it?
Accounting certificates can lead to rewarding careers and future accounting education, making them a worthwhile investment.
Do you need a certificate to be an accountant?
No. However, many accountants choose to earn certificates to learn new skills, earn more college credits, and bolster their resumes.