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It is quite common for professionals from small businesses to don many roles at the same time, a certified bookkeeper (CB) needs to do it while staying abreast of regulatory guidelines. The way any particular business records or reports its financial activities would need to change as per the new rules issued by government authorities. However, small businesses may not really have the resources to appoint an entire accounting firm to supervise such duties, which may comprise keeping track of payroll, billing, and other crucial transactions.

This is exactly where a certified bookkeeper comes into the picture.

A lot of small businesses hire bookkeepers who work as their sole financial officers and keep a tab on their accounts. Certified bookkeepers perform duties that need considerable financial expertise and training.

A certified bookkeeper is a person who has the understanding, skills and work experience for performing the duties required of a bookkeeper. That primarily comprises of preparing end-of-period adjustments, conducting monthly bank reconciliations, processing payroll, and recording depreciation for both book and tax purposes.

The most common way to become a certified bookkeeper is through these 2 top professional bookkeeper organizations: AIPB and NACPB. If you wish to, then you can also get the certification through local or online college courses.

Both organizations, i.e. the AIPB and the NACPB offer nationally-recognized programs that provide you good credentials that you can flaunt on your resume. Once you clear the AIPB program, you would become a certified bookkeeper (CB), and if you get through the NACPB program, you would get the recognition of being a certified professional bookkeeper (CPB). Both the courses would give you an edge over the others when applying for a job or trying to get freelance clients. This is exactly why these courses are recommended over other certifications.

Career Requirements

Degree Level High school diploma or equivalent; associate or Bachelor’s for advancement
Degree Field(s) Bookkeeping, accounting, business, or related field
Licensure/Certification Voluntary certification is always a plus
Experience 2+ years (for certification)
Key Skills Math and basic computer skills; detail-oriented

Top Four Bookkeeper Certification Programs in 2018

  Suitable For
American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB) (CB) Someone who doesn’t possess any formal education in bookkeeping
National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers (NACPB) (CPB) People holding a Bachelor’s or Associate’s degree in accounting.
Online and Traditional College Courses People willing to expand their bookkeeping knowledge and wants access to an instructor while they learn.
Accounting Software Certification A person with an accounting degree or bookkeeper certification and someone who wants to become an expert in an accounting program.

Steps to Become a Certified Bookkeeper

Let’s take a look at the main steps you can follow to become a certified bookkeeper:

Step 1: Obtain a High School Diploma

The minimum educational requirement required to become a bookkeeper is a high school diploma. When you’re enrolled in high school, you need to take up courses that are related to math, computers, accounting and English. This will give you the requisite groundwork to pursue training at the next level or find jobs.

Think about taking up a certificate or associate’s degree program as all bookkeeping programs are accessible at the certificate and associate’s degree level. If you are an experienced bookkeeper, then certification is available through the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers. All these programs would teach about recording costs, calculating depreciation, valuing inventory, analyzing financial statements and using software programs. These courses would cover topics in QuickBooks, Microsoft Excel, bookkeeping, payroll administration and business math.

Step 2: On-the-Job Training

Once you get hired, employers would put you through an extensive job training process with other new bookkeepers. When you get paired up with experienced bookkeepers, as a new employee, you would get to observe work policies and also learn ways to carry out the necessary operations associated with bookkeeping. Every employer would have different policies or methods in order to conduct work, so it is imperative that bookkeepers know how the work is done.

Step 3: Get the Certified Bookkeeper Designation

In order to get the Certified Bookkeeper (CB) designation through the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers, you need to have at least two years of bookkeeping experience. You would then need to follow the code of ethics that are set by this organization and clear the examination to earn certification. The exam for becoming a Certified Bookkeeper is divided into four parts. There are various preparation courses that are available online and at colleges to help you prepare for certification.

Step 4: Continuing Training and Education to Advance Your Career

Continued educational and vocational training are extremely crucial when it comes to bookkeeping. A minimum of 24 hours of annual training is required for the bookkeeper certification that is available through Accounting Training Unlimited. AIPB expects bookkeepers to finish at least 30 hours of continuing education every year to maintain their certification. Also, when you specialize in growing industries such as healthcare, hospitality, insurance or financial services, it naturally widens career opportunities.

The Tests

For becoming a certified bookkeeper, you need to pass a test. Organizations that run such tests include AIPB and the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers (NACPB).

NACPB and the National Bookkeepers Association are basically a part of a company called Accounting Training Unlimited, which offers online training, professional certifications and testing. The uniform bookkeeper certification test that is offered by this company is an open book, multiple-choice exam that includes topics such as analyzing business transactions, financial statements and payroll computations.

The AIPB also has its own exam that comprises questions about why accruals, deferrals, and other adjustments are made. You need to also learn about revenue recognition concepts, depreciation expense for tax and book, and payroll concepts. You need to completely ready to finish the federal reporting forms, Form W-4, state withholding forms and the required payroll data. The exam would test your awareness of internal controls and fraud prevention. The institute makes study material available through its official website for a minimal fee.

Examination Locations and Fees

Accounting Training Unlimited’s uniform bookkeeper certification test can be taken with the help of any computer that has Internet access. Candidates need to schedule a date and time for the exam and would be given access to the test via email. The price for taking the test for the first time is $100 for members and $150 for non-members. People who do not pass and wish to give the test again need to pay $50 as members and $75 for nonmembers.

The AIPB test can be planned at any of the testing centers run by a test administration company called Prometric. The fee of certification for members of AIPB is $479 and if you are a non-member, then you must pay $574 for the certification.

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