Those who want to be bookkeepers do not absolutely need standardized certification in order to pursue the career, but meeting some formalized requirements and certifications can help boost job opportunities and salaries. Those who are certified earn the right to include the title “Certified Professional Bookkeeper”, or CPB, as part of their title; they can also ask higher billable rates than non-certified bookkeepers, but must prove to their clients that they are current on the latest bookkeeping methods and financial laws. These abilities and advantages make certified bookkeepers in higher demand than non-certified bookkeepers.
Book Keeper Certification
Those who want to take state certification tests to become certified bookkeepers usually need to meet some basic education requirements. First, many states require a certain number of college-level courses or equivalent experience evidence. The test and subsequent certification is provided by the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers, and this organization requires the courses be taken through a college or university that are accredited by them, meaning the AIPB have analyzed the academic institution’s coursework and find the contents to be adequate to meet their standards.
This accreditation process ensures that those seeking certification have an established minimum standard of knowledge in the area of bookkeeping. There are many institutions which offer coursework in the area of bookkeeping, and those who have education in the field from a non-accredited institution can still often sit for the certification test. Along with traditional colleges and universities, many non-traditional institutions such as online or correspondence schools offer satisfactory coursework in the area of bookkeeping.
Besides academic coursework there are experience requirements to sit for the certification exam. The AIPB requires candidates for the test have a minimum of 2 years of experience, including part-time and freelance work, verifiable from employers and/or clients before sitting for the exam.
For those who have the education and experience who desire certification, the test is comprised of five parts that span three separate exams. To pass the test, candidates must pass each section of each exam with at least a 70%. Should a candidate pass one section but fail another, the candidate would have to retake the failed part of the exam and pass before receiving certification. The AIPB does not require structured studying before taking the test, but they do provide a study manual to help ease test anxiety and help candidates better understand what they will be required to know on the test.
Once candidates successfully past the certification exam, certified bookkeepers must sign a code of ethics pledging, among other things, to continue their education by obtaining an additional 60 hours of coursework over the three-year period following their initial certification.
Bookkeeper Training Courses
Along with accredited and non-accredited bookkeeping courses in academic institutions, there are a great many bookkeeper training programs available. One such example is the programs available through the National Bookkeepers Association, or NBA. They offer specialized training in areas such as QuickBooks, accounting, payroll, financial management and Microsoft Office programs. This organization is a fee-for-service organization, meaning that customers must purchase the training programs, but they are effective and convenient training materials. NBA offers formats such as DVDs, which allow customers the convenience of learning at their own pace when their schedule allows, instead of attending formal classes.
Another valuable form of bookkeeper training is that of seminars and workshops. There are many organizations which offer both of these mediums to help students learn valuable skills such as those required to keep general ledgers, manage accounts receivable and payable, payroll and other fundamental bookkeeping skills.
For those seeking certification through one of the industry’s established certifying agencies, check with the certifying agency and the educational provider to see if the material will count towards necessary educational requirements before paying and enrolling in any course.
Jobs for Bookkeepers
The job market for bookkeepers is always a competitive one. There are many opportunities for experienced and educated bookkeepers, but these individuals must compete with their less educated, less certified and often less educated counterparts.
Bookkeepers can work for themselves, for small, medium and large businesses, or for corporations of all sizes. They can work in almost every industry imaginable, from the medical and legal fields to merchandising, retail and finance industries. The sky truly is the limit for bookkeepers with laudable skills and knowledge.
Salaries for Bookkeepers
The salaries for bookkeepers, much like that of any other career field, really depends on the size of the business employing them, the industry that establishment is in, the experience and certification of the bookkeeper and the overall economy.
Entry level non-certified bookkeepers may receive offers for positions paying anywhere from $15,000 to $20,000 per year, while their certified, experienced equivalent may receive offers from $30,000 to $40,000 per year plus benefits such as paid time off or health insurance.
Bookkeeping is a profession that is gaining momentum. The job market is competitive, the education is comprehensive, and the potential truly is limitless. Those interested in becoming a bookkeeper certainly have a bright future ahead of them.