There are now around a third of a billion companies registered worldwide — and that number looks set to increase year on year. While every business is different, they all require someone to manage the books. No wonder the demand for bookkeeping skills is on the rise.
But how do you master the skills you need to be a proficient bookkeeper? The answer is with the right bookkeeping course. In this article, we’ll explain:
- The skills you need to be a bookkeeper
- The different types of bookkeeping courses available
- Who they are best suited to
What skills do I need to be a bookkeeper?
Bookkeeping is the process of recording financial transactions and maintaining accurate financial records. In practice, this involves processes such as:
- Recording sales and purchases
- Reconciling bank statements
- Managing accounts payable and receivable
- Generating financial reports
To be a successful bookkeeper, you need a mixture of hard and soft skills. Soft skills are notoriously hard to teach, although you can improve them with practice and experience. Hard skills, on the other hand, can be acquired through training courses.
Here are some of the basic skills you’ll need to be a bookkeeper:
- A solid understanding of bookkeeping fundamentals
- A solid understanding of bookkeeping tech
- Attention to detail
- Organisation and time-management skills
- Ethics and integrity
Do I need a qualification to be a bookkeeper?
Unlike accounting, there’s no universal requirement for qualifications when it comes to bookkeeping. That said, it’s worth checking out the specific regulations and requirements that apply in your country of residence.
Anyone can start their own business and manage the books, and many do with zero professional bookkeeping experience. But if you want to work for a bookkeeping firm and manage other businesses' books, you’ll need to demonstrate a degree of proficiency or experience.
Should I take a bookkeeping course?
Whether you want to manage your own books or someone else’s, you need to know what you are doing. And that’s where a bookkeeping course can help. With the right course, you can:
- Get a handle on bookkeeping and accounting basics
- Increase your bookkeeping confidence
- Minimise the risk of mistakes
- Make yourself more employable or marketable
But with so many courses to choose from, how do you know where to start? Next up, we’ll explain what courses are available, what they offer, and who they are designed for.
1. Accredited bookkeeping courses
Best for: Anyone serious about forging a career in bookkeeping.
If you are serious about stepping into the bookkeeping profession, there are several organisations that provide internationally recognised bookkeeping qualifications. The courses they offer take anything from three months to a year to complete, with tens or hundreds of hours of tuition.
While each county has its own nationally recognised certificates, we’ll focus here on internationally recognised bodies and qualifications.
The Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB)
Described as the largest bookkeeping institute in the world, the ICB aims to promote and maintain high standards across the bookkeeping profession. They have branches in many different countries. The ICB offers a range of bookkeeping courses designed to equip you with the skills you need to excel, including:
- Level 2 Certificate in Bookkeeping
- Level 3 Certificate in Bookkeeping
- Level 4 Certificate in Financial Statements for Micro & Small Businesses
The Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT)
The AAT is a globally recognised professional body for accounting technicians. They aim to break down barriers to accounting and bookkeeping, providing people with the real-world skills they need to work with business accounts.
In addition to a range of accounting and finance courses, AAT offers three levels of bookkeeping qualification:
The International Association of Bookkeepers (IAB)
The IAB is an international awarding body that provides qualifications for bookkeeping, accounting, payroll, and finance. Through membership, they also offer accredited training and support to help guide you through your bookkeeping career. Their courses include:
- Manual bookkeeping
- Level 1 Award in Bookkeeping
- Level 2 Certificate in Bookkeeping
- Level 3 Certificate in Bookkeeping
2. Online bookkeeping courses
Best for: Small business owners and bookkeepers looking to build confidence and knowledge, especially when it comes to the business side of bookkeeping.
If you want to gain some bookkeeping knowledge but don’t care about official accreditation, there are tons of online bookkeeping courses you can take.
These courses are often designed and delivered by bookkeeping influencers or companies. They tend to be more informal and cheaper than accredited courses, and you can study at a pace that suits you. They typically cover areas such as:
- Bookkeeping basics
- Bookkeeping software and automation
- How to start a bookkeeping business
There are countless online bookkeeping courses out there. In this section, we’ll highlight some of the best places to find them.
Intuit Academy Bookkeeping Professional Certificate
With almost 80,000 students already enrolled, Intuit’s certificate is one of the most popular online bookkeeping certificates around. It’s designed for complete beginners to gain the knowledge they need to kickstart their bookkeeping careers. The certificate comprises four individual courses:
- Bookkeeping Basics
- Assets in Accounting
- Liabilities and Equity in Accounting
- Financial Statement Analysis
Devised by experienced CPA Harold Averkamp, AccountingCoach is a popular online course. It covers everything you need to know to get started, from basic accounting principles to technical accounting skills.
AccountingCoach also has a standalone bookkeeping module that provides an excellent introduction to bookkeeping. It covers basic bookkeeping concepts such as:
- The accrual method
- Double-entry bookkeeping
- General ledger accounts
- Recording business transactions and bank reconciliation
- Balance sheets, income statements, and cash flow statements
Unlike other courses on this list, AccountingCoach’s core materials are completely free. You can upgrade to the Pro and Pro Plus paid versions, which offer premium learning materials, but the free course is an excellent place to start.
Alyssa Lang, also known as the Workflow Queen, is a popular accounting and bookkeeping influencer. Besides writing a blog and hosting a podcast, she also offers a range of courses designed to help you streamline and automate bookkeeping processes, including:
- Kickoff with Asana for Bookkeepers & Accountants
- Workflows in a Weekend for Bookkeepers & Accountants
- Breakthrough for Bookkeepers & Accountants
These courses are an invaluable resource for any bookkeeper interested in how technology can simplify bookkeeping processes.
Udemy is a popular e-learning marketplace where anyone can design and deliver online courses. That means you get access to tons of bookkeeping courses at a very decent price.
As you’d expect, the quality and delivery of Udemy courses vary wildly, so you have to pick your courses wisely. We recommend choosing courses with top ratings (4.5 out of 5 or higher) from a large number of reviewers. You can usually preview modules as well to give you an idea of the style and professionalism of a course.
Here are just a few examples of the hundreds of bookkeeping-related courses available on Udemy:
- Accounting & Bookkeeping Masterclass — Beginner to Advanced
- Bookkeeping Basic Explained
- Start a Bookkeeping Business
- Bookkeeping Basics
5MB Bookkeeping Academy
CPA and certified QuickBooks advisor Veronica Wasek set up the 5MB Academy to empower virtual bookkeepers to grow as professionals.
You’ll find a range of courses here aimed at small-business owners and anyone looking to start their own bookkeeping firm. The courses tend to focus more on the business and tech side of things. While some courses are paid, others are completely free, including:
- The Virtual Bookkeeper’s Toolbox
- Pricing Strategies for Bookkeepers and Accountants
- Proven Strategies for Attracting Bookkeeping Clients
The Ambitious Bookkeeper
The Ambitious Bookkeeper offers a whole range of online bookkeeping classes at nearly all price levels.
This resource is not only aimed at those who want to learn bookkeeping but also at business owners interested in accounting fundamentals, financial statements, and many more. The goal is to help small businesses learn and grow through a series of themed courses like:
If you’re interested in starting a virtual bookkeeping business, Bookkeepers can give you lots of useful tips.
It’s not just about being a bookkeeper — you can find an introductory course on various subjects, including people and processes, marketing, pricing strategies, etc. Bookkeepers’s prices vary, ranging from $97 to $2,000+ per course. Here are some of the best options:
3. Software-specific bookkeeping courses
Best for: Bookkeepers who want to gain proficiency in a specific software platform and earn the trust of potential clients.
Technology plays a central role in modern bookkeeping. So it’s no surprise that you can also find plenty of courses designed to get you up to speed with the most popular bookkeeping and accounting software.
You can find software-specific bookkeeping courses on third-party websites and places like Udemy, but we recommend choosing courses offered by certified providers. Alternatively, you can go straight to the software provider themselves. Here are some examples.
QuickBooks Online Certification
QuickBooks Online is the market-leading accounting software by some distance. Gaining an official QuickBooks Online Certification is a great way to stand out from the crowd and appeal to potential customers.
While you can find QuickBooks-related training courses all over the internet, Intuit — the company behind the software — offer the following options:
- QuickBooks Accountant University: A series of live training sessions taught by Advanced Certified ProAdvisors
- QuickBooks ProAdvisor Certification: By passing the ProAdvisor training, you can prove to your clients you are a certified QuickBooks expert.
Another popular accounting software, Xero offers training courses designed to help you become a proficient Xero user. There are several ways you can get certified, including online bookkeeping classes, webinars, and live classroom sessions.
Users who already have a working knowledge of Xero can take the fast-track option and get assessed quickly. Xero offers two different certifications:
FreshBooks Accounting Partner Program
FreshBooks is a popular bookkeeping software used by small businesses and freelancers. To help accountants become FreshBooks power users, they have set up the FreshBooks Accounting Partner Program, which offers the following:
- Ongoing skills training
- Access to FreshBooks tools, resources, and support
- Official FreshBooks certification
- Your name added to the FreshBooks Partner directory
Bookkeeping courses: there’s something for everyone
Whether you are a freelancer who wants to learn basic bookkeeping skills or a professional bookkeeper looking to stand out from the crowd, bookkeeping courses are an excellent way to improve your skills and grow professionally.
The type of course that’s best for you will depend on your circumstances. Whatever course you choose, make sure you do your research first to ensure that it meets your specific needs and professional goals.
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