Best Accounting Certificates 2022

| Accounting.com Staff Updated on July 29, 2022

Best Accounting Certificates 2022

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Accounting plays a vital role in all types of organizations. Accountants record and analyze financial data. They also help people and businesses make informed decisions and improve financial efficiency.

Aspiring accounting professionals can enroll in introductory certificate programs. Graduates can pursue jobs as accounting clerks or bookkeepers. These professionals earned a median annual salary of $45,560 as of 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Entry-level accounting roles can serve as stepping stones to higher-paying positions.

An accounting certificate offers a practical pathway to a career in accounting. This page covers what to expect from accounting certificate programs, including common courses, career paths, and top schools for accounting certificates.

How to Get an Accounting Certificate

Accounting certificate programs provide students with a broad overview of accounting. Some also target specific accounting areas, such as income tax preparation or small-business accounting.

Accounting certificates generally require no more than 30 credits and take less than two years to complete. Depending on the school, learners may earn accounting certificates online, on campus, or in a hybrid format.

Certificate programs typically start with introductory courses in business and accounting. Students learn to use accounting tools and software, like Microsoft Excel and QuickBooks. Later coursework covers more complex and specific accounting subjects. These may include payroll accounting, tax preparation, financial statement analysis, and business ethics.

The cost of accounting certificates varies by school. On average, students can expect to pay about $300-$500 per credit. Some colleges and universities allow certificate-holders to transfer earned credits toward an associate or bachelor's degree.

Admissions Process

Applicants usually need at least a high school diploma or GED certificate to qualify for an accounting certificate program. Some schools only accept students over age 18.

Prospective accounting certificate students must fill out an online application, including information about where they live. The application may also ask students about their interests and instruct them to list any previous college experience. Some schools charge an application fee of about $30-$50, though amounts vary. Others do not charge for the application.

Applying for a certificate in accounting usually demands fewer materials than an associate or bachelor's degree. These higher-level programs may ask for a minimum GPA plus SAT or ACT scores, essays, and recommendation letters.

Students who enroll in an online accounting certificate program need certain technology to complete their studies. Requirements may include internet access and a computer that can run the software their program teaches.

Top Online Programs

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Popular Accounting Certificate Courses

Accounting certificate programs provide a basic understanding of key accounting topics. Coursework introduces the major principles of accounting, business operations, and taxation. Learners build skills in accounting software such as QuickBooks and Excel. The curriculum also develops skills in general areas like research and communication.

Many accounting certificate programs include some variation of the following classes.

Introduction to Business

This course builds a knowledge base for further study. It introduces key business topics such as management, marketing, finance, accounting, and investments. This course may also cover common business technology tools.

Introduction to Accounting

This course teaches the central principles and practices of accounting. These include double-entry bookkeeping, financial statement preparation, journalizing, and payroll.

Managerial Accounting

This course explores how accounting shapes management and decision-making strategies. Common course topics include cost concepts, capital budgeting, responsibility accounting, and variance analysis.

Computer Accounting Applications

Software tools play a major role in accounting practice. These applications help accountants maintain, organize, and access financial data. This course typically introduces accounting software like QuickBooks.

Income Tax

This course explores the basic principles of income tax returns, often for individuals and sole proprietorships. It may also cover more complex tax returns for partnerships and corporations.

How Much Do Accounting Certificate Programs Cost?

Students interested in accounting certificates often pay about $4,750-$9,500, depending on the number of required credits. However, accounting certificate programs vary in cost.

Community colleges tend to charge the lowest rates for in-state students. Out-of-state learners may pay higher rates at community colleges. Four-year public colleges often charge higher tuition rates than two-year schools.

Accounting certificate programs usually include fewer credits than associate and bachelor's programs in accounting. Therefore, certificates are often less expensive and faster to earn than traditional degrees. Certificate-holders can enter their field quickly and pursue an associate or a bachelor's at a later date.

Some certificate-seekers may qualify for financial aid. Aid options include scholarships, grants, and federal loans.

Selecting the Right Certificate in Accounting

When researching potential accounting certificate programs, students should consider the following factors.

  • Accreditation: Always make sure a school holds valid accreditation. Unaccredited schools cannot guarantee credit transfer or strong professional preparation.
  • School Size: Larger schools may provide more resources but less individual support for students. Smaller schools may offer fewer available courses and less flexible enrollment options.
  • Cost/Financial Aid: Cost is a top concern for most degree-seekers. In general, two-year schools charge lower tuition than four-year schools. In-state enrollees at public colleges often pay less than out-of-state learners or students at private colleges.
  • Transfer Pathways: Accounting certificate programs can lead to full degree programs at other schools, including many four-year colleges. Students should research transfer options if they plan to earn an associate, bachelor's, or master's degree.
  • Program Length: Some schools offer accelerated certificates that take only weeks or months to complete. Other schools cater to working students, offering part-time programs that allow students to complete the work at their own pace.
  • University Resources/Career Services: Many schools offer strong resources for accounting students. These may include career counseling and connections to internships and job opportunities.

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The Top Accounting Certificate Programs

An accounting certificate prepares you for entry-level careers or further academic study in this high-paying field. Our 2022 ranking highlights some of the country's top accounting certificates. Learn more about our ranking methodology below.

#1

Moraine Park Technical College

School Information
Location Fond du Lac, Wisconsin
Graduation Rate 57%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 31% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin-based MPTC offers associate and certificate programs in more than 100 career fields. The college runs additional campuses in Beaver Dam, Jackson, Ripon, and West Bend.

Accounting Assistant Technical Diploma

MPTC's accounting assistant technical diploma builds foundational accounting skills through classroom instruction and hands-on training. Students learn how to complete basic financial tasks, including preparing payroll and processing transactions.

The program typically lasts two semesters. Enrollees take classes like computer literacy, income tax accounting, and introduction to finance. After earning their certificate, students often pursue an associate degree in accounting.

MPTC offers credit-for-prior-learning opportunities to students with relevant job experience. Working students with previous accounting training can sometimes skip course requirements, completing their degree faster.

Applying to MPTC

Applicants need either a high school or GED/HSED diploma. To determine class placement, they should submit either ACT scores or take the ACCUPLACER test. 

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition: $141 per credit for in-state learners; $211 per credit for out-of-state learners
  • Required Credits: 35 
  • Program Length: One year
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous), on campus, or hybrid (online and on campus)
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#2

Southwest Wisconsin Technical College

School Information
Location Fennimore, Wisconsin
Graduation Rate 62%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 26% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Fennimore-based Southwest Tech serves many Wisconsin counties, encompassing an area of 3,800 square miles. The school offers several academic programs, technical certificates, and career training.

Accounting Assistant Technical Diploma

Southwest Tech's accounting assistant technical diploma trains students in basic accounting principles and practices. The program focuses on accounting for corporations, partnerships, and sole proprietorships. Learners can choose from specializations in business spreadsheet applications or business taxation.

Students take classes like payroll applications, math with business applications, and career planning in business. Enrollees build skills in basic computer applications like Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, and QuickBooks.

Southwest Tech maintains articulation agreements with several Wisconsin colleges. Students often transfer to four-year colleges to earn a bachelor's in accounting. The school also maintains a direct transfer agreement with Franklin University in Columbus, Ohio.

Applying to Southwest Tech

Applicants need a high school or GED diploma. Southwest Tech also considers ACT or ACCUPLACER scores. Candidates can complete a class placement assessment as part of their registration process.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition: $2,500-$2,820 per semester
  • Required Credits: 34
  • Program Length: One year
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous), on campus, or hybrid (online and on campus)
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#3

Iowa Lakes Community College

School Information
Location Estherville, Iowa
Graduation Rate 52%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 35% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Estherville, Iowa-based Iowa Lakes serves students throughout Algona, Emmetsburg, Spence, and Spirit Lake. Founded in 1967, the school ranks among the top community colleges in Iowa.

Accounting Diploma

Iowa Lakes' accounting diploma builds foundational skills for all types of accounting, including public, private, and governmental. Students gain a broad understanding of major accounting cycle steps, payroll procedures, and financial statement preparation.

Typical classes include human relations, business correspondence, and computer accounting. Students also complete a bookkeeping review course that prepares them for the Certified Bookkeeper exam. Learners complete an individual projects course during their final semester. The class includes an accounting simulation for a retail business.

After earning their accounting diploma, many students continue on to the school's associate of applied science in accounting program.

Applying to Iowa Lakes

Applicants submit high school or GED transcripts, along with transcripts from any other colleges attended. Iowa Lakes also requires scores from either the SAT, ACT, or ACCUPLACER.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition: $191 per credit for in-district learners; $196 per credit for in-state learners; $202 per credit for out-of-state learners
  • Required Credits: 35
  • Program Length: 1.5 years
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous), on campus, or hybrid (online and on campus)
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#4

Middlesex County College

School Information
Location Edison, New Jersey
Graduation Rate 23%
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 22% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

A public community college based in Edison, New Jersey, MCC serves students throughout Middlesex County. More than 10,000 students enroll at the school annually. Learners pursue both technical and academic programs.

Accounting Certificate of Achievement

MCC's accounting certificate of achievement program serves students with an associate degree in any subject. Certificate candidates need credits in general education, including mathematics. The certificate focuses only on accounting courses, building specialized knowledge in the field.

Students complete five classes, including financial accounting, managerial accounting, and cost accounting. The program explores strategies for communicating financial information within business organizations.

Many graduates pursue careers in bookkeeping, tax preparation, and accounting. Graduates may also transfer into accounting bachelor's programs. MCC maintains articulation agreements with many New Jersey colleges, including Rutgers and the New Jersey Institute of Technology. 

Applying to MCC

Accounting certificate candidates need an associate degree or higher in any field. Applicants may also need permission from the department chairperson to enroll in the program.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Tuition: $167 per credit
  • Required Credits: 20
  • Program Length: N/A
  • Delivery Format: On campus
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#5

Western Wyoming Community College

School Information
Location Rock Springs, Wyoming
Graduation Rate 35%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 54% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Rock Springs-based WWCC has offered technical and academic education since 1959. The school now serves more than 7,000 students annually. WWCC enrolls learners across Wyoming's Sweetwater County.

Accounting Certificate

WWCC's accounting certificate introduces key skills in business and accounting practices. Typical classes include college math, technical writing, and introduction to information management. Enrollees also study accounting computer software, including spreadsheet applications, word-processing applications, and QuickBooks.

The program curriculum includes one business elective. Some options include economics, business administration, and finance.

Certificate recipients can pursue entry-level careers in accounting or bookkeeping. Graduates can also continue their studies with WWCC's associate programs. WWCC maintains articulation agreements with many four-year colleges throughout the state, including the University of Wyoming.

Applying to WWCC

Applicants must submit official high school transcripts or transcripts from degree-equivalency programs, including the GED or HiSET. WWCC administers different placement tests, including the College Level Examination Program and the ALEKS Math placement test.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition: $150 per credit for in-state learners; $360 per credit for out-of-state learners
  • Required Credits: 35
  • Program Length: One year
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous), on campus, or hybrid (online and on campus)
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Questions About Undergrad Accounting Certificates

How do I start a career in accounting?

Most students start working toward an accounting career by pursuing a degree or certificate in accounting.

Is an accounting certificate equivalent to an associate degree?

Associate degrees usually take more time and money than certificate programs. However, associate degree programs typically provide better preparation for bachelor’s degree programs.

How long does it take to get an accounting certificate?

Certificate programs vary in length. Undergraduate certificates in accounting can take six months to two years to complete.

What can I do with an accounting certificate?

Undergraduate accounting certificate programs prepare students for further education and jobs such as bookkeeper, clerk, and accounting assistant.

Can you become an accountant with an accounting certificate?

To become full accountants, professionals typically need at least a bachelor’s degree.

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