How to Become a Certified Bookkeeper

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You can start a career as a bookkeeper straight out of high school, but many bookkeepers also take college-level classes in bookkeeping or accounting. Although certification is optional, it provides a way to demonstrate your bookkeeping prowess to potential employers and qualify for better jobs. You can obtain certification through the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers or the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers.

Certified Bookkeeper

You can earn the Certified Bookkeeper credential from the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers by documenting your work experience and passing four exams. To qualify, you need a minimum of two years of full-time bookkeeping experience or the part-time or freelance equivalent. You can get the experience before or after you pass the exams. Download the information booklet on the AIPB website and submit your application to receive study workbooks. When ready, apply online with Prometric, which operates test centers nationwide. Take the first two exams at a testing center. The passing score on these exams is 75 percent. The final two exams are open-book and come with your workbooks. You must return the answer sheets to the AIPB and score at least 70 percent. You must also agree to a code of ethics to become certified.

Certified Public Bookkeeper

The National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers offers the Certified Public Bookkeeper credential to those who meet education or experience requirements and pass four exams. To qualify by education, you need a bookkeeping certificate, an associate or bachelor's degree in accounting, or by completing NACPB self-study courses. To qualify by experience, you need at least two years of work in accounting or bookkeeping. All applicants must also agree to a code of conduct and submit an application. Register on the Accounting Training and Testing Center website for the four certifying exams. You must take each separately and score at least 75 percent. A minimum of 24 hours of continuing education is also required every year.