Most Affordable Online Bookkeeping Certificate Programs

Learn about affordable online bookkeeping programs. Discover ways to choose a program, the benefits of earning a bookkeeping certificate, how to earn bookkeeper certification, and available jobs. Schools offering Bookkeeping degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

The Most Affordable Online Bookkeeping Certificate Programs

Pursuing a bookkeeping certificate doesn't have to be costly or time-consuming. Below is a list of online bookkeeping certificate programs that have been ranked for their affordability, accessibility, and flexibility.

1. Nicolet Area Technical College

Location Tuition (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Rhinelander, WI $4,404 86%

Nicolet Area Technical College has a Bookkeeper Technical Diploma that is available completely online. With just 4 courses in payroll accounting, accounting principles, and Quickbooks, the program is for small businesses seeking better payroll and accounting practices, aspiring bookkeepers seeking entry-level employment, or individuals seeking to expand their knowledge. The program has multiple start dates for more flexibility.

2. Chippewa Valley Technical College

Location Tuition (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Eau Claire, WI $4,364 76%

Chippewa Valley Technical College offers an online Bookkeeper Technical Diploma that can be completed in less than a year. In addition to being offered online, the school has a 'My Choice' option, where students can choose which classes they want to take online and which classes they want to take on campus. Upon completion of the program, the credits earned can automatically transfer to the school's associate program in accounting. They also award credit to those who have previous professional or educational bookkeeping experience.

3. Minnesota State College Southeast

Location Tuition (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Winona, MN $5,628 78%

Minnesota State College Southeast offers a Bookkeeping Certificate that can be completed in one semester either online, on-campus, or a combination of both. The program has a practical and personal approach to bookkeeping and accounting, and their professors have professional experience in the field. Students work with the most up-to-date computer software and, upon completion of the program, have the option to transfer their credits towards an associate's degree in accounting or business.

4. Truckee Meadows Community College

Location Tuition (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Reno, NV $2,963 72%

Truckee Meadows Community College offers a certificate of achievement in bookkeeping that is available completely online. In addition to bookkeeping and basic accounting courses, students take general education courses in communications, human relations, and mathematics, for a total of 30 credits. Upon completion of the program, students can transfer their credits to a relevant associate's degree.

5. University of Alaska Fairbanks

Location Tuition (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Fairbanks, AK $6,657 84%

The University of Alaska Fairbanks has a Bookkeeping Technician Occupational Endorsement program that is available online through their eCampus portal. The program is designed to prepare individuals for employment in small and large businesses alike. In just one semester, students can earn 15 credits, half of which can be applied towards the accounting technician certificate.

Rank Institution Name Location % Receiving Financial Aid Tuition (in-state)
6 Front Range Community College Westminster, CO 69% $3,986
7 Bates Technical College Tacoma, WA 59% $5,391
8 Klamath Community College Klamath Falls, OR 88% $4,404
9 Olney Central College Olney, IL 99% $9,743
10 Northeastern Junior College Sterling, CO 87% $5,072
11 Central Wyoming College Riverton, WY 96% $3,120
12 College of Southern Maryland La Plata, MD 49% $6,660
13 South Florida State College Avon Park, FL 79% $3,165
14 Skagit Valley College Mount Vernon, WA 62% $4,200
15 Augusta Technical College Augusta, GA 86% $2,794
16 Moraine Park Technical College Fond du Lac, WI 62% $4,403
17 Tompkins Cortland Community College Dryden, NY 92% $6,046
18 Seminole State College of Florida Sanford, FL 74% $3,131
19 Minnesota West Community and Technical College Granite Falls, MN 90 $5,692
20 Clark State Community College Springfield, OH 90% $3,728
21 Columbus State Community College Columbus, OH 78% $4,284
22 Northeast Iowa Community College Calmar, IA 84% $5,820
23 Santa Rosa Junior College Santa Rosa, CA 77% $1,328
24 Minnesota State Community and Technical College Fergus Falls, MN 86% $5,335
25 North Central Missouri College Trenton, MO 96% $5,400

All statistics provided by the National Center for Education Statistics, tuition based on 2018-2019 school year's school ranking methodology categorizes and assesses data from schools and other reliable sources, such as the U.S. Department of Education, and weighs the information based on quality, cost, value and other factors critical to students' academic decisions.

Differences Between Bookkeeping and Accounting Certificates

While bookkeeping and accounting certificate programs have similarities, such as length of completion and overlapping concepts, there are key differences between the two.

Bookkeeping Certificate Accounting Certificate
Completion Time 1 semester to 1 year 1 semester to 1 year
Available Online Yes Yes
Core Courses Payroll
Accounting Principles
Financial Accounting
Managerial Accounting
Possible Careers Bookkeeping Clerk Accounting Clerk
Licensure/Certification Certified Bookkeeper Designation (CB) (optional)
Certified Public Bookkeeper (CPB) (optional)
Certified Accounting Paraprofessional (CAP) (optional)

How to Choose an Online Bookkeeping Certificate Program

There are several online bookkeeping programs to choose from. It is important to choose one that can help you move forward with your education and career. Here's how to make that choice.


Flexibility is one of the most beneficial components of online learning. While some programs are available completely online, others may have on-campus components like seminars or practical requirements. Many offer multiple start dates and some have both full-time and part-time options. Consider how all of these components work with your schedule.

Length of Completion

Most certificate programs are significantly shorter than degree programs. Some certificate programs may last only 1 academic semester while others may take 2 or 3 semesters. For some people, the shorter, the better. Others might want a program with more courses that covers more ground.


Although you don't need to graduate from an accredited school to work as a bookkeeper, it is important to check if a program is accredited. Accreditation helps ensure that a school is meeting standards of excellence determined by a reputable academic organization. Schools should list their accreditation on their website. For additional assurance, you can check the U.S. Department of Education's list of approved accrediting agencies.


Since certificate programs typically don't require as many courses as a degree, the cost can be significantly lower. However, it is always best to compare the cost of each program you're considering and decide what you are willing to pay. Check for any additional fees and be sure to consider the cost of a computer and reliable internet access as well. Schools do offer financial aid for many students, even for certificate programs, so be sure to read the information they provide on how to apply.

National Certification Prep

If becoming a certified bookkeeper is your goal, it is important that any program you choose has a curriculum that will prepare you for the national bookkeeper certification exam. Many online bookkeeping programs list what courses you'll be taking, and some provide a description of what you can learn in the course. Consider reading the course information for each program you're thinking of applying to and see how it matches up to the official curriculum provided by the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers (NACPB).

The Benefits of Earning a Bookkeeping Certificate

Earning a bookkeeping certificate can provide several academic and professional benefits.

Transfer Credits to a Degree

If part of your plan includes pursuing an associate's or bachelor's degree in accounting, earning a bookkeeping certificate now can help you with the process. Many schools' bookkeeping certificate programs have credits that can transfer to an associate's degree in accounting. Even if it is not part of your plan now, it can be beneficial if you decide to pursue a degree in the future.

Fulfill Education Requirements for Employment

Many employers prefer bookkeepers who have postsecondary education. Earning a bookkeeping certificate can show employers that you have learned the necessary skills for the job through a quality program. Even if an employer does not require formal education, having a certificate can make you more marketable to employers or clients. It may also help you with any future professional development, such as a career change or promotion.

Pass Bookkeeper Certification Exams

The courses in bookkeeping and accounting certificates and diplomas are often designed to help you pass certification exams. These certifications can help you find employment and advance your career. Read on for more on certification.

What Is Bookkeeper Certification?

Bookkeeper certification shows that a bookkeeping professional has been certified as knowledgable and qualified in their field of work. There are two types of bookkeeper certification available; the Certified Bookkeeper (CB) designation and the Certified Public Bookkeeper (CPB) license. Earning a certification can be beneficial towards seeking employment, earning higher pay, advancing your career, or marketing yourself to clients if you offer your services as a freelancer.

Certified Bookkeeper Designation

The Certified Bookkeeper designation is for individuals with professional experience in bookkeeping to demonstrate that they have exceptional skills and knowledge to succeed in their field. Candidates must pass a 4-part exam, adhere to a code of ethics, and have at least 2 years of professional bookkeeping experience, either full-time or part-time.

Certified Public Bookkeeper License

The Certified Public Bookkeeper license is a similar option for professional bookkeepers to show that they are exceptional in their field. There are more requirements for this certification, though. In addition to needing at least 2 years of professional bookkeeping experience and passing a 4-part exam, candidates must either have an associate or bachelor's degree in accounting or complete the education alternative of 4 bookkeeping courses. These courses include:

  • Accounting fundamentals
  • Accounting principles
  • Payroll fundamentals
  • Quickbooks fundamentals

Candidates must also adhere to a code of ethics and complete 24 hours of continuing professional education each year.

Job Options With a Bookkeeping Certificate

Earning a bookkeeping certificate can qualify you to become a bookkeeper as well as pursue other similar positions, such as an accounting clerk or auditing clerk. These three positions, while different, require similar education and skills, and have a similar work environment.

All three positions typically require at least a high school diploma with a few postsecondary courses in accounting. On-the-job training is usually given through either an experienced employee or supervisor. Strong math and computer skills are required for these careers.

Career Title Median Salary (2020)* Job Outlook (2018-2028)**
Bookkeeping Clerk $43,390 -4% (for all bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks)
Accounting Clerk $39,753 -4% (for all bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks)
Auditing Clerk $53,699 (for auditing assistants) -4% (for all bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks)

Sources: *; **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Bookkeeping Clerk

Bookkeeping clerks, otherwise known as bookkeepers, are in charge of a company's financial records. These records, commonly known as a general ledger, hold information about a company's accounts. Bookkeeping clerks record and keep track of any information that goes into the general ledger. This can include transactions, income, and costs. This is usually done using standard computer software.

Bookkeepers may also be in charge of producing financial statements and similar types of reports for the company's managers and supervisors. They can additionally make deposits to the bank on behalf of the company and may use information such as receipts or data from cashiers to make the deposits. Additional duties can include handling payroll, preparing invoices, making purchases on the company's behalf, and tracking overdue accounts.

Bookkeepers can have multiple clients, so they may not always work in one office.

Accounting Clerk

Accounting clerks usually specialize in a type of accounting, such as accounts payable (money spent) or accounts receivable (money earned). Accounting clerks will have different responsibilities based on their levels of experience. An entry-level accounting clerk may be in charge of the details of a company's transactions. This can include the transaction amount, type, and the date it was made. Other entry-level duties can include adding up accounts, monitoring loans and accounts to ensure timely payments are made, and determining interest charges.

Accounting clerks who are more experienced may handle duties such as adding and balancing bill vouchers, coding documents according to a company's procedures, and ensuring that all account data is accurate and complete.

Accounting clerks have the option to obtain a Certified Accounting Paraprofessional (CAP) license. Not to be confused with the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license, this license does not qualify you to become an accountant. It is an option for accounting paraprofessionals to validate their skills, which can be helpful when seeking employment. Candidates must pass an exam, have substantial professional experience, and maintain continuing professional education every year, among other things.

Auditing Clerk

Auditing clerks work for companies to check the mathematical, coding and legal accuracy of financial data. This can include documents, postings, and figures. They can usually make corrections themselves, especially if it is a smaller error, such as a transcription mistake. But if the error is too big or there is a major discrepancy, auditing clerks are usually required to notify senior staff.

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