Bookkeeper Certification and Career Facts

Explore the career requirements for bookkeepers. Get the facts about certification, job outlook, and salary potential to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Bookkeeping degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Bookkeeper Do?

Companies and institutions rely on bookkeepers to manage their financial records. As a bookkeeper, you'll use specialized software such as QuickBooks and MS Excel to keep detailed records of all transactions and prepare statements. Your duties will include managing financial transactions, checking accuracy and producing reports. You may also be in charge of payroll, invoices, and purchasing.

See the table below to learn more about certification requirements, job outlook, and salary for this career.

Education Required High school diploma or equivalent; postsecondary training is helpful and preferred by some employers
Training Required Often done on-the-job
Certification Required Voluntary Certified Bookkeeper (CB) or Certified Public Bookkeeper (CPB) credentials helpful
Job Growth (2014-2024)-8% for bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks*
Median Salary (October 2016) $40,580 for bookkeepers**

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Payscale.com

Certified Bookkeeper: What Is It?

Bookkeepers are responsible for updating and maintaining records of the financial transactions of a company. As a bookkeeper at a smaller company, you'll keep track of all credits and debits, prepare financial statements and generally complete banking transactions for the company. At a larger company, you may have more specialized tasks, such as managing payroll or working with only select accounts for the company. Bookkeepers who are certified have earned voluntary credentials to demonstrate that they are proficient in a wide range of bookkeeping functions.

How Do I Become Certified?

Although certification is not required, you may find it helpful to obtain the Certified Bookkeeper (CB) designation, which is available through the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (www.aipb.org). You are required, prior to taking the examination, to have at least two years of experience in the accounting or bookkeeping industry. After scoring at least 70% on the exam, you are required to sign a code of ethics. With these three elements completed, you can use the CB title, which signifies your professional knowledge and ability.

Alternatively, the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers offers the Certified Public Bookkeeper (CPB) designation (www.nacpb.org). To qualify for this certification, you must have one year of experience in the accounting or bookkeeping field, pass an examination and sign a code of conduct agreement. This designation also requires that you maintain your certification by completing at least 24 hours of continuing professional education per year.

What Type of Jobs Can I Get?

Because all companies handling monetary transactions need to keep track of their accounts, you can work as a bookkeeper in almost any industry. You could work for a smaller company, overseeing all of the financial operations, or you could work for a larger company, handling just some of the company's accounts. Some examples of employers you may work for include construction companies sports management firms and professional staffing companies.

What Is the Job Outlook?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that because of a growing economy, job prospects from small enterprises are expected to be good (www.bls.gov). However, between 2014 and 2024, the employment of bookkeeping, auditing, and accounting clerks is projected to generally decline by eight percent. Clerks who perform a wide range of duties, such as CBs and full-charge bookkeepers, may be more in demand than clerks who perform more specialized and limited tasks. The BLS reported that as of May 2015, the average hourly wage for bookkeepers, accounting, and auditing clerks in the U.S. was $18.74. Payscale.com reports that in October 2016, the majority of CBs earned between $11.49 and $24.79 per hour.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Other careers that only require a high school diploma include those of financial clerks, auditing clerks, and accounting clerks. Financial clerks are responsible for maintaining financial records, calculating charges and assisting customers. Accounting clerks are responsible for keeping track of an organization's financial transactions, while auditing clerks check financial records for accuracy.

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