Best Bookkeeping Certificate Programs of 2022

| Accounting.com Staff Modified on May 2, 2022

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Bookkeeping certificate programs provide critical career skills to aspiring bookkeepers and accounting professionals. Bookkeepers provide a valuable service to their clients by managing ledgers, balancing the books, and tracking income and expenditures. These professionals often take on different titles in their careers like administrative assistant and financial clerk.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 3% decline in job growth from 2020-2030 for bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks. The BLS cites a shift toward automated bookkeeping services and cloud computing as reasons for the decline. However, these workers develop broad skills for similar accounting or finance occupations through bookkeeping certificate programs.

Bookkeepers now require more diverse, adaptable skills in the workforce. Earning a certificate can also prepare enrollees to pursue a bachelor's degree, which could improve their employment prospects.

Bookkeeping certificate programs train students in the latest industry software and emphasize soft skills to prepare graduates for entry-level employment.

Continue reading to learn what to expect from bookkeping certificate programs, including application requirements, costs, and common courses. Updated annually, our list below ranks the nation's best bookkeeping certificate programs.

Why Get a Bookkeeping Certificate?

Bookkeeping certificate programs can lead to stable careers in business and finance. Students who pursue bookkeeping courses online can earn a certificate in less time than it takes to earn a degree, and often at a lower cost. Bookkeeping certificate programs prepare learners for professional roles as bookkeepers, bill collectors, financial clerks, bank tellers, and administrative assistants.

  • Higher Earning Potential: Bookkeepers earned a median annual salary of $42,410 as of 2020.
  • Broader Job Prospects: While employment projections indicate that the field will decline by 3% from 2020-2030, certificate programs prepare students for career opportunities beyond the field. Graduates can pursue similar roles that require analytical and consulting skills like financial clerk or administrative assistant.
  • Faster Graduation: Since many bookkeeping jobs do not require formal degrees, students can complete a certificate to quickly enter the field in entry-level roles. Most schools enable students to complete bookkeeping certificate programs online in less than one year.

Should You Get a Certificate or an Associate Degree?

Aspiring bookkeepers may wonder whether a certificate or associate degree best accommodates their career goals. Certificates and associate degrees share some similarities and differences. Generally, both include similar introductory bookkeeping coursework and offer online and in-person enrollment options.

Differences include the credit requirements, length, and cost of the program. Additionally, bookkeeping certificate programs and associate degrees often have different admission criteria, with certificates holding fewer and more flexible requirements. The following table outlines the similarities and differences of bookkeeping certificates vs. associate degrees in more detail.

Bookkeeping Certificate Bookkeeping Associate Degree
Length Roughly one year Roughly two years
Minimum Credit Requirement 20-30 credits 60-65 credits
Course Topics (Sample)
  • Accounting
  • Business communications
  • Quickbooks accounting
  • Spreadsheet applications
  • Accounting
  • Financial statement analysis
  • QuickBooks Pro
  • Business tax forms
Admission Requirements
  • Transcripts
  • Potential SAT/ACT scores
  • High school diploma or GED certificate
  • SAT/ACT scores
  • Minimum 2.0 GPA
  • Potential general education prerequisites
Cost Roughly $100-$800 per credit Roughly $10,000
Format Online or on-campus Online or on-campus

What the Best Bookkeeping Certificates Have in Common

Each bookkeeping certificate program offers a unique experience. However, many top schools and bookkeeping programs share similar characteristics:

They are accredited.

Accreditation speaks to the overall quality of a school providing a certificate program for bookkeeping. All programs in our rankings come from accredited schools. Common accrediting agencies for bookkeeping certificate programs and schools include:

  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC)
  • Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC)
  • Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)

They offer academic excellence.

Students seeking bookkeeping certification want to know the money and time they invest in a program helps them achieve career goals. The best schools ensure their faculty is suited to teach fundamental bookkeeping skill. They also help students can transition into entry-level bookkeeping careers or pursue further education.





They are reputable.

The reputation of a school and its certificate programs plays an important role in determining whether that school is a good option. Top bookkeeping programs have an excellent reputation with students, alumni, accrediting agencies, and faculty. This speaks to an institution's dedication to student success. High retention and graduation rates also factor into a school's reputation.





They are affordable.

Certificate programs offer affordable solutions for students who want a credential but don't want to take on the expense of a full degree. Though bookkeeping certificate programs rarely offer financial aid, these programs often require fewer credit hours, which can lower overall costs.

What To Expect From a Bookkeeping Certificate

Most bookkeeping certificate programs offer inclusive admission requirements. Schools typically enable students with prior college experience to apply transfer credits toward certificate programs.

In some cases, students can enroll in bookkeeping courses online simply by submitting their official transcripts and paying the application fee.

While specific elements vary by program, most schools share some commonalities. Students can usually decide to attend classes online or in person. Online bookkeeping certificate programs may offer various schedules, including live or recorded lectures.

Most bookkeeping certificate programs require roughly 20-30 credits and take no more than two years to complete. Many online programs offer lower credit requirements and faster paths to graduation through accelerated schedules. Certificate programs generally do not include internships. The cost of a certificates ranges from $100-$800 per credit.

Application Process

Learning how to become a bookkeeper starts with finding a bookkeeping program. While schools vary, students typically follow common application requirements. Many online programs accept applications on a rolling basis, allowing candidates to begin bookkeeping courses throughout the year.

Some accelerated online programs only require transcripts and an application fee. Some bookkeeping certificate programs may require some prerequisites in basic computer skills.

Though most bookkeeping students apply to certificate programs after graduating from high school, most certificates do not specifically require a diploma or GED certificate. Applicants generally do not need bookkeeping experience to apply. Some schools hold minimum GPA requirements or require SAT/ACT scores from recent high school graduates.

Different Certificate Types

Schools offer several types of bookkeeping certificate programs. Students can often choose whether to study in person, online, or through hybrid learning. Online learning may offer greater accommodations to out-of-state or commuter students looking for accelerated bookkeeping certificate programs. Alternately, some learners prefer an immersive campus environment. Others may seek a combination of these learning styles in a hybrid format.

Within an online program, schools may feature synchronous or asynchronous learning options. Some schools alternate these course delivery types. Online students should consider the time-management requirements of their prospective bookkeeping certificate programs.

Certificate programs differ from certifications. While schools bestow certificates, private organizations award certifications through examination. Common certifications include Quickbooks and certified public bookkeeper (CPB) training. General bookkeeping certificates provide broad skills for entry-level jobs, but Quickbooks or CPB certification may lead to specific professional roles.

Popular Bookkeeping Courses

Bookkeeping certificate programs typically introduce students to accounting, business math, and Quickbooks applications. Core courses emphasize career training in bookkeeping, payroll, ledgers, journals, spreadsheets, and reports. Many programs include electives in economics, computer applications, and business administration. Some programs require general education coursework in writing and foundations courses.

  • Principles of Accounting: This course introduces students to the basic principles of accounting theory and practice. Students learn bookkeeping and accounting methods for corporations, sole proprietors, and partnership-based organizations. Many foundational accounting courses require prerequisites in basic math, such as elementary and intermediate algebra.
  • Quickbooks Accounting: Quickbooks skills are essential in any bookkeeping occupation. Bookkeeping certificate programs typically emphasize Quickbooks or Quickbooks Pro coursework, sometimes requiring a two-part class in this subject. Tasks include setting up accounting records and recording transactions in the app.
  • Business Math: This course trains students to apply advanced math concepts to practical problem-solving scenarios in accounting and business. Many business math courses follow minimum prerequisites in elementary and advanced algebra. Enrollees explore simple and compound interest, payroll, investment opportunities, and graphs and charts.
  • Spreadsheet Applications: This course introduces learners to beginner and advanced spreadsheet software and applications. Topics include range names, formulas, functions, and formatting. Students also learn to create and use macros, import and export data, and generate charts and templates. While not always required, some programs recommend that candidates have computer experience before enrolling.

How Much Do Bookkeeping Certificates Cost?

Students should consider several key factors that affect the cost of bookkeeping certificate programs. An student's preferred school type, location, and financial aid eligibility may impact the cost of bookkeeping courses. Many online bookkeeping certificate programs help students reduce costs by charging in-state tuition and offering accelerated schedules.

A school's public or private status, in-state and out-of-state tuition rates, and reputation can affect its tuition cost. Students generally pay more to attend private, nonprofit institutions. Additionally, most colleges assign higher tuition rates and fees to nonresidents.

Most students need financial aid to pay for any college program. Since certificates are shorter and often more flexible than a degree, most programs offer limited aid in the form of scholarships or grants. Many students qualify for federal student loans through the Department of Education, some of which they can apply toward postgraduate certificates or diplomas.

Bookkeeping Jobs and Salaries

Bookkeeping certificate programs can lead to many different accounting and finance careers. Graduates of bookkeeping certificate programs can pursue jobs as accounting clerks or bill collectors, among other accounting occupations.

The BLS' projections indicates a decline in bookkeeping occupations. However, bookkeepers with administrative and technology skills can apply to various job opportunities within the field, including accounting clerk. Additionally, graduates of bookkeeping certificate programs may go on to pursue an associate or bachelor's degree on the path toward becoming an accountant, certified public accountant, or financial executive.

Bookkeeper

Bookkeepers maintain financial accounts for individual clients, corporations, and organizations. They document all transactions, including debits and credits, to a general ledger. Bookkeepers also prepare bank statements and deposits. Many bookkeepers perform payroll, purchasing, and collections services.

- Required Education: Some postsecondary education preferred

- Job Outlook (2020-30): -3%

- Median Annual Salary: $42,410

Financial Clerk

These professionals keep financial records and facilitate transactions. Many clerical jobs in finance incorporate a strong customer service component. Industries including insurance, healthcare, and credit intermediation, employ the highest amounts of financial clerks.

- Required Education: At least some postsecondary education preferred

- Job Outlook (2019-29): 0%

- Median Annual Salary: $40,540

Accounting Clerk

Like bookkeepers, accounting clerks receive much of their education through on-the-job training. They often perform specialized duties, such as accounts payable/receivable, loan monitoring, or balance billing for large companies. Many accounting clerks seek employment experience before pursuing degrees or licensure through certification.

- Required Education: At least some postsecondary education preferred

- Job Outlook (2019-29): -6%

- Median Annual Salary: $41,230

Bill and Account Collector

Bill and account collectors track down and attempt to recover overdue payments from individuals and businesses. They locate consumers and companies with past-due bills to negotiate payment options and refer consumers to debt counselors or consolidators. Bill and account collectors typically undergo on-the-job training in relevant computer software and negotiation techniques.

- Required Education: High school diploma

- Job Outlook (2019-29): -6%

- Median Annual Salary: $108,350


Selecting the Right Certificate Program

Our rankings offer a great place to start searching for the right bookkeeping certificate program, but aspiring bookkeepers should consider other factors, including:

  • Accreditation: All prospective schools must hold accreditation from regional or national accreditation agencies. Regional accreditation carries more prestige than the national form.
  • Bookkeeping Focus: Take note of schools that specialize in accounting and bookkeeping programs.
  • Bridge Programs: Many schools favor students who complete certificates toward earning higher in-house degrees.
  • Location: Enrollees may prefer to complete their bookkeeping courses online or on campus.
  • Required Admission Material/Test Scores: Bookkeeping certificate programs generally offer flexible admission requirements for high school graduates.
  • Competitiveness/Difficulty of Admission: Most certificate programs accept applicants who demonstrate potential but may hold only minimal college or work experience.
  • Program Length: Most bookkeeping certificate programs allow students to graduate in as little as one year.
  • Student-to-Teacher Ratio: While some students thrive on personalized attention, others do not need a small class to succeed.
  • Earning Potential: Online bookkeeping certificate programs can lead students to entry-level positions as a stepping stone toward more lucrative roles.
  • Cost/Financial Aid: Candidates can offset the cost of an online certificate with loans, scholarships, grants, and work-study programs.

Best Bookkeeping Certificate Programs

Using National Center for Education Statistics data, we rank 2022's five best bookkeeping certificate programs. To see more about key factors we consider, check out the link below.

#1 Online College in New Mexico

Central New Mexico Community College

School Information
Location Albuquerque, New Mexico
Graduation Rate 29%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 44% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Based in Albuquerque, CNM educates over 20,000 students from nine campuses in the metro area. The college offers over 200 associate, training, and certificate programs in trades, technologies, health, and business. 

Bookkeeping Certificate 

CNM's bookkeeping certificate features basic accounting classes and qualifies students for entry-level bookkeeping jobs. Students learn business operation basics and how to communicate in the business field. 

CNM students can pair the bookkeeping certificate with other business and IT programs. With just a few more classes, students can earn an accounting certificate or associate degree. The certificate curriculum includes both in-person and online classes. CNM offers fall, spring, and summer enrollment for both full- and part-time students. 

Applying to CNM

Applicants must take a placement exam or provide qualifying test scores. Prerequisites include successful completion of math, reading, and writing courses. Students must earn a "C" or higher for all prerequisite courses.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Public
  • Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Tuition: $67 per credit hour for residents, $301 per credit hour for non-residents
  • Required Credits: 33 credits
  • Program Length: 9 months
  • Delivery Format: Hybrid, in-person classes at the main campus or Montoya campus 
#2 Online College in Texas

Laredo College

School Information
Location Laredo, Texas
Graduation Rate 18%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 21% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

A small, public college in Laredo, Texas, LC opened its 200-acre campus in 1947. LC now operates two campuses: the downtown Fort McIntosh Campus and the South Campus. Program offerings include child development, culinary arts, and computer electronics. LC holds Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board accreditation.

Bookkeeping/Payroll Certification Program

LC offers a bookkeeping/payroll certification program with in-person or hybrid enrollment. The curriculum focuses on the application of accounting and bookkeeping fundamentals. Classes cover basic functions in bookkeeping, financial analysis, and ledger adjustments. Students learn about end of month and end of year closing processes and financial statement preparation. Participants gain practical skills, such as how to set up and track accounts in QuickBooks.

Applying to LC

Prospective students submit an application, transcripts, and test scores. Applicants show proof of residency with a driver's license, government ID, or other approved document. Students must also submit proof of screening for bacterial meningitis. 

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Public 
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board
  • Tuition: $50 per credit hour in-state, $100 per credit hour out-of-state
  • Required Credits: 80 hours 
  • Program Length: 12 weeks
  • Delivery Format: Hybrid
#3 Online College in Arizona

Pima Community College

School Information
Location Tucson, Arizona
Graduation Rate 21%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 36% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

A two-year institution, Pima includes five campus locations and several adult learning centers in the Tucson, Arizona, area. The college aims to become a high-tech institution serving the employment needs of Greater Tucson. Focus areas include applied technology, IT, and healthcare. 

Accounting, Bookkeeping Certificate

Pima offers an accounting, bookkeeping certificate preparing students for entry-level bookkeeping and accounting positions. The program teaches students basic accounting and financial records principals. Topics include payroll, balance sheets, general ledgers, inventory, assets and liabilities, and income statements. 

The certificate qualifies students to take a national bookkeeper certificate examination. Graduates can continue working toward an associate in accounting, or transfer credits toward other business degree courses. 

Applying to Pima

Admission requirements include a 3.5 high school GPA and passing College Assessment Test scores. Continuing students need 12 college credits in 100-level or higher courses and a 3.5 GPA. 

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Public 
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition: $87 per credit hour in-state, $308.50 per credit hour out-of-state; online courses for out-of-state residents discounted to $218.50 per credit hour
  • Required Credits: 31 credits
  • Program Length: 12 months
  • Delivery Format: 100% online 
#4 Online College in Illinois

William Rainey Harper College

School Information
Location Palatine, Illinois
Graduation Rate 34%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 22% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

A public community college in Palatine, Illinois, the school opened in 1967. Harper offers seven degree programs, including two-year career programs, bachelor-preparation programs, and over 40 certification and general education courses. 

Accounting Bookkeeper/Clerk Certificate

The eight-credit accounting bookkeeper/clerk certificate program prepares students for a nationally recognized certification test. Graduates leave the program qualified for entry-level bookkeeping jobs and other entry-level accounting careers. They gain skills with basic accounting software apps and tools, such as Quickbooks and other database programs. 

Students may transfer credits toward an accounting associate, opening opportunities for more careers. Learners complete the certificate at the main campus or the Prospect Heights Learning and Career Center. Certificate program enrollees do not qualify for financial aid.

Applying to Harper College

Admission requirements include an application, a $25 application fee, and submission of official high school transcripts. Students must also set up a MyHarper online portal.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Public 
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition: $133.50 per credit hour for in-district residents, $390.50 for out-of-district residents, $466.00 per credit hour for out-of-state students.
  • Required Credits: 8 credit hours
  • Program Length: 17 weeks
  • Delivery Format: On-campus courses only
#5 Online College in Wisconsin

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.

MPTC enrolls over 18,000 students annually across multiple Wisconsin locations, including three campuses and two regional centers. MPTC offers over 100 programs in applied sciences, technical diplomas, certification programs, and apprenticeships.

Bookkeeper Technical Diploma

MPTC students earn a bookkeeper technical diploma with just five classes. The program provides hands-on experience in managing financial data and using accounting software programs. Participants learn to compile, organize, and report financial data that will help guide small business owners' decisions. 

MPTC makes it easy for graduates to expand their knowledge in the field. Completing the program qualifies students to transfer into other MPTC programs. Options include the tax preparer assistant certificate course, accounting associate degree, and other accounting-related programs. 

Applying to MPTC

All students with a GED or high school diploma qualify to apply, as long as they meet general program requirements. These may include criminal background checks and other state-mandated requirements. 

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition: $141.00 per credit for in-state residents and online students, $211.50 per credit for out-of-state residents
  • Required Credits: 15 credits
  • Program Length: 6 months 
  • Delivery Format: Online or in-person

Frequently Asked Questions About Bookkeeping Certificates

What kind of degree do you need to be a bookkeeper?

A bookkeeper typically does not need to earn a degree to enter the field. Instead, they often complete on-the-job training. Yet, employers often prefer candidates with bookkeeping certificates or associate degrees to applicants with no relevant education.

How do you get a bookkeeping certificate?

Students can earn a bookkeeping certificate online or in person. Most bookkeeping certificate programs cost less and take less time to complete than an associate degree.

What can you do with a bookkeeping certificate?

Though not always required by employers, a bookkeeping certificate can provide an advantage to job-seekers. Bookkeeping certificate programs emphasize accounting, computer, and administrative skills.

What's the difference between a bookkeeping certificate and certification?

Earning professional bookkeeping certification requires a process separate from completing a bookkeeper certificate. Candidates must pass an exam administered by the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers, the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers, or the National Bookkeepers Association.

Should I get certified as a bookkeeper?

Becoming a certified bookkeeper can lead to broader job prospects. Employers may favor candidates with certification for higher-paying jobs or advancement in fields like accounting, business, and finance.

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