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Upskill your staff with the best accounting courses (free and paid)

accounting courses
By Drazen Vujovic. Last Updated June 17, 2024

Most people believe accounting is dull and slow-moving, but it’s actually one of the most dynamic professions. It feels like technology is reshaping the industry in real-time, while regulatory requirements are getting increasingly stringent.

In such circumstances, upskilling your staff is not just an option but a necessity. Accounting courses are a simple way to do it, but there is a problem — navigating the vast landscape of options can take a lot of time.

That’s why we compiled a list of the best accounting courses for your accounting practice.

Let’s dive in!

Disclaimer: Course details may change over time (including course URLs). Always verify the course and certification information on the respective platform or institution's website before making any decisions.

Top accounting courses for beginners

These accounting courses aren’t the best resource for mid-level and experienced accountants, but they can help interns and newbies get their foot in the door. Here are our top recommendations.

1. Introduction to Financial Accounting

Introduction to Financial Accounting is a four-week online course hosted by Brian Bushee. It offers about 13 hours of accounting classes that result in a shareable certificate. 

  • Platform/provider: Coursera, University of Pennsylvania (Wharton School)
  • Content: Financial accounting, financial statements, balance sheets
  • Type: Online & free
  • Duration: 4 weeks

2. Basic Accounting

Basic Accounting is one of the best free accounting courses for those who want to learn about the core principles of the industry. It takes up to four hours and includes a CDP certification. 

  • Platform/provider: Alison
  • Content: Accounting, financial analysis, cash flow
  • Type: Online & free
  • Duration: Self-paced

3. Financial Accounting Fundamentals

Financial Accounting Fundamentals will teach you how to prepare financial statements and analyze transaction results. It offers free accounting classes, but we encourage you to check the paid version as well because it’s much more comprehensive.

  • Platform/provider: edX, Southern New Hampshire University 
  • Content: Accounting concepts, reporting financial transactions, income statements
  • Type: Online with free and paid versions ($498)
  • Duration: 16 weeks

4. Accounting: Principles of Financial Accounting

Accounting: Principles of Financial Accounting by Coursera introduces you to the essentials of the accounting language. The course comes with 67 minutes of video materials, seven text-based lessons, and three quizzes. 

  • Platform/provider: Coursera, IESE Business School 
  • Content: Understanding the role of accounting, financial statements, and the accounting equation
  • Type: Online & free
  • Duration: 4 weeks

5. Bookkeeping Basics #1: Understand the Fundamentals

Bookkeeping Basics #1: Understand the Fundamentals is aimed at accounting students, but it’s also good for small business owners. This course offers 54 downloadable resources and a certificate of completion.

  • Platform/provider: Udemy
  • Content: The basics of bookkeeping
  • Type: Online, paid ($9.99)
  • Duration: More than four hours of video lectures

6. Accounting Coach

Accounting Coach is a simple but highly efficient guide that can help you gain basic accounting skills. It uses a step-by-step process to cover everything from debits and credits to the accounting equation and the cash flow statement. 

  • Platform/provider: Accounting Coach
  • Content: Accounting classes for newbies
  • Type: Online, free
  • Duration: Self-paced with dozens of lectures

7. Accounting Principles: Learn The Basics of Accounting and Bookkeeping

The last entry on our list of accounting classes is Accounting Principles: Learn The Basics of Accounting and Bookkeeping. It’s a comprehensive guide on basic accounting principles, so it will take some time to go through nearly eight hours of learning materials. 

  • Platform/provider: Skillshare
  • Content: Financial accounting, financial management, financial records
  • Type: Online, paid through Skillshare subscription ($25 per year)
  • Duration: Self-paced with nearly 100 lectures 

Intermediate and advanced accounting courses

Accounting practices often search for new ways to educate their employees. The following accounting courses will do a fine job for intermediate and advanced learners:

1. Principles of Finance

Principles of Finance is one of the finest accounting courses that comes from the Harvard Extension School. It goes well beyond accounting basics to give you expert insights into business analysis and even microeconomic theory. 

  • Platform/provider: Harvard Extension School
  • Content: Managerial accounting, generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP)
  • Type: In-person or online, paid ($3,100)
  • Duration: 7 weeks

2. Financial Reporting Specialization

Financial Reporting Specialization will show your employees how to interpret and/or create complex financial reports. This course is packed with practical activities, including peer-reviewed statement analysis. 

  • Platform/provider: Coursera, University of Illinois
  • Content: Financial reporting, financial statement analysis
  • Type: Online and free
  • Duration: 9 months with a suggested pace of 3 hours per week

3. Certificate Program In Management Accounting

Certificate Program in Management Accounting delves deep into the managerial accounting processes. It will show you how to prepare a funds flow statement, apply CVP analysis, describe the assumptions of marginal costing, and so on.

  • Platform/provider: Udemy
  • Content: Financial management, managerial accounting
  • Type: Online and paid ($49.99)
  • Duration: Self-paced with 24 lectures

4. Corporate Finance

Advanced learners should also check the Corporate Finance course. This one’s designed for accounting professionals who help make big decisions and create investment plans. 

  • Platform/provider: edX, IIMBx
  • Content: Financial decision-making, investments, capital budgeting tools
  • Type: Online, free with a paid upgrade (optional)
  • Duration: 5 weeks

5. Forensic Accounting and Fraud Examination

Forensic Accounting and Fraud Examination is one of our favorite online accounting courses dedicated to fraud detection and forensics. 

  • Platform/provider: Coursera, West Virginia University
  • Content: Accounting forensics, internal control, and fraud investigation
  • Type: Online and free
  • Duration: 4 weeks with approximately 6 hours of learning

6. Excel: Management Accounting

If you’re looking for an intermediate course focusing on a popular accounting tool, we recommend Excel: Management Accounting. Professionals working in a management or corporate accounting vertical will learn a lot about Microsoft Excel through this video-based course.

  • Platform/provider: LinkedIn Learning
  • Content: Microsoft Excel, management accounting
  • Type: Online and paid ($30)
  • Duration: Self-paced with 94 minutes of lectures

7. Certified Internal Auditor (CIA): Exam Prep & Study Guide

Accountants who enjoy quiz-based online accounting courses should try Certified Internal Auditor (CIA): Exam Prep & Study Guide. It’s a great resource for professionals who want to prepare for their CIA exams using a step-by-step tutorial. 

  • Platform/provider: Study.com
  • Content: Internal auditing, data analysis, fraud risk management, organizational behavior
  • Type: Online and free
  • Duration: Self-paced with 22 chapters

Accounting certifications for career growth

Sometimes it takes more than a course to advance a career. In this case, your employees should obtain accounting certificates that enable further career growth. Here are the most common options:

1. Certified Public Accountant by AICPA

Becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is the ultimate goal for many industry professionals. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) issues the certificate. But in order to become a licensed CPA, you need to take a 16-hour test with four sections: 

  • Auditing and Attestation 
  • Business Environment and Concepts 
  • Financial Accounting and Reporting 
  • Regulation 

2. Chartered Global Management Accountant by AICPA and CIMA

AICPA offers another license, but this time in cooperation with The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA). We are talking about the Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) certificate that confirms you are familiar with international financial reporting standards (IFRS).  

3. Certified Public Accountant by CPA Australia

CPA Australia is a pathway to becoming a CPA Down Under. Similar to the AICPA certification, this program requires candidates to pass a comprehensive exam that covers various areas of accounting and finance. Though the certification is primarily focused on Australia, it guarantees global recognition.

4. Certified Management Accountant by IMA

The Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) offers the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) exam. This credential is designed for professionals who want to pursue a career in management accounting. The CMA exam consists of two parts: 

  • Financial planning, performance, and control
  • Financial decision-making

5. Certified Internal Auditor by IIA

If you’re interested in becoming a Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), visit The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA). This body’s certification is targeted towards individuals who specialize in internal auditing within organizations. The CIA exam covers topics like internal audit practices, risk management, governance, and internal control.

6. Certified Fraud Examiner by ACFE

Another way to upskill is to get a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) license. You can find it at The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE). This learning program will teach you all about detecting, preventing, and investigating fraud. The CFE exam focuses on the following areas:

  • Fraud prevention and deterrence
  • Financial transactions and fraud schemes
  • Investigation techniques
  • Legal aspects related to fraud

7. Enrolled Agent by IRS

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) provides the Enrolled Agent (EA) certification. These agents are authorized to represent taxpayers before the IRS in matters such as audits, collections, and appeals. To become an Enrolled Agent, candidates must pass a comprehensive three-part exam that focuses on various aspects of tax law and procedures.

Seize the power of learning to improve your accounting practice 

In a rapidly changing accounting landscape, upskilling your staff is not a luxury but a vital investment. The good thing is that accounting firms can find a plethora of courses for all proficiency levels — beginner, intermediate, and advanced. With these resources, you can equip your staff with the skills required to navigate the complexities of the accounting business.


Drazen Vujovic

Dražen Vujović is a journalist and content writer. More importantly, he is a father of two and a long-distance runner.