Here’s how to become a certified bookkeeper and work from anywhere

Last updated: July 14, 2024
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Jennifer Young
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Here’s how to become a certified bookkeeper and work from anywhere
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Bookkeeping is a popular job for those who want to work in the financial field without a college degree.

If you want to build a career remotely, it’s an even better solution.

However, there’s a lot of competition between bookkeepers. You can get an advantage and find more interview opportunities by getting your bookkeeper certification.

Here’s how you can become a certified bookkeeper, even without any experience in the field.

What is a certified bookkeeper?

A certified professional bookkeeper (CPB) takes care of financial transactions, accounting and postings, usually for a business.

When you work as a certified bookkeeper, you are typically either "in-house" or "outsourced". In-house bookkeepers provide bookkeeping services within a small business. Outsourced bookkeepers work for an accounting or bookkeeping business directly and are contracted by large businesses to handle their books.

Certified bookkeepers are also in charge of preparing financial statements and bank reconciliation, typically once a month. They're required to keep up with daily transactions, general ledgers, accounts payable, accounts receivable, tax payments, and more.

More experienced certified bookkeepers, who have the proper training and certifications, may also handle payroll for a business.

Keep in mind that certified bookkeepers aren’t necessarily accountants.

While accountants can be bookkeepers, the opposite isn’t true. Certified public accountants (CPAs) can review a bookkeeper’s work, perform financial analysis, handle financial planning, and much more.

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Certified bookkeeper job responsibilities

When you work as a certified bookkeeper, you’ll be responsible for several aspects of a company’s financials.

This includes but is not limited to:

  • Maintaining accurate records of financial transactions daily

  • Perform fraud prevention by making sure the financials comply with legal requirements

  • Balancing and reconciling accounts

  • Maintaining a general ledger and balancing it

  • Preparing financial reports and statements

  • Keeping financial records in order in case of auditing

What qualifications do you need to be a certified bookkeeper?

Not all bookkeepers are certified, but if you want to obtain your certification as a bookkeeper, there are a few qualifications you’ll need to meet first.

While you don’t need any previous years of experience as a bookkeeper, having that experience will help you perform better on the first qualification — a pre-assessment test for the Accounting Fundamentals course.

The National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers (NACPB) offers the pre-assessment test and the fundamentals bookkeeping course. These are the first steps toward getting certified. When you complete the course, you need to take the post-assessment test.

Afterward, you’re ready for your certification exam.

You’ll have one year from the date of your purchase to take the Bookkeeping Certification Exam. If you don’t pass the exam, you’ll need to purchase a retake exam.

The bookkeeper exam is open-book with 50 questions. You need a score of 75% or higher to pass.

However, the NACPB isn’t the only association that can grant you certification. The American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB) also offers a certification program.

In addition to this, having experience with Microsoft Excel and dedicated accounting and bookkeeping software is a plus.

What do you have to study to become a certified bookkeeper?

There are no required college degrees required to become a certified bookkeeper. You don’t need a bachelor’s degree or accounting degree, unlike an accountant.

However, there are other education requirements. You need to complete preparation courses for the respective certification you choose to take.

For instance, you can take the AIPB’s Certified Bookkeeper Course for AA Programs. But if you want to get certified with the NACPB, you’ll need to take the Accounting Fundamentals course instead.

When you’re a member of the NACPB, you can save on your certification, education, and application fees.

For example, the Bookkeeping Certification Bundle, which includes the online course, study materials, exam, and certificate, costs $369 for members and $449 for non-members.

How to become a certified bookkeeper: 4 vital things to know

1. What skills do you need to become a certified bookkeeper?

To become a successful bookkeeper, you need a variety of hard and soft bookkeeping skills.

First, you need organization skills. Bookkeeping involves managing several transactions in a single day, which can overwhelm someone who lacks organizational skills.

You also need to be meticulous, have problem-solving skills, and be comfortable with technology. Plus, it’s helpful to be able to see the bigger picture and spot trends.

If you struggle with technology, you can obtain a certification from common bookkeeping and accounting software like Quickbooks.

2. Is certification important?

If you want to become an accountant, you’ll need to go through a rigorous process to become a CPA.

And while accountants are strictly regulated, bookkeepers aren’t. This means that bookkeeping certifications aren’t required for you to have a successful bookkeeping career.

However, this certification can help you get a head start in your bookkeeping career, especially if you’re starting with no experience. It can help you build the hard skills you need to perform well in the role.

Additionally, the certification can add some credibility to your resume. According to the AIPB, 84.3% of certified bookkeepers who got a new job or a promotion say that their certification was important to their new status. 81% of them also say their certification was important in getting them an interview.

But suppose you’ve already got years of bookkeeping experience under your belt. In that case, you probably have the skills and credibility required to get a job in the field without any additional certifications.

3. Is bookkeeping a good option for remote work?

Are you trying to land a remote job that you can do from anywhere? Luckily, bookkeeping is one of the top-paying jobs you can do from home!

Bookkeeping doesn’t require any special equipment that would warrant an office. All you need is a reliable Internet connection and a computer powerful enough to run the latest version of the accounting software your employer wants you to use.

Some employers even hire part-time bookkeepers if that’s what you’re looking for, but most job opportunities are full-time.

4. How to find a job as a certified bookkeeper

Before you can find a job as a certified bookkeeper, you’ll need to update your resume and add your certification.

Next, you can decide whether you want a remote job, an office job, or if you don’t mind where you’ll work.

You can search for bookkeeping jobs on Jobcase. If you prefer to look for remote jobs only, you can check that option on the left.

Certified bookkeeper salaries and employment rates

Bookkeepers make an average of $42,410 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The highest 10% earned over $63,900 per year in 2020, while the lowest 10% earned less than $27,050.

Currently, the job outlook is in decline at 6%.

Certified bookkeeper interview questions

If you’re preparing for an interview for a certified bookkeeper job, here are some questions to prepare for:

  • How much interaction did you have with vendors and clients in your past jobs?

  • What is your experience with software?

  • What types of financial reports were you responsible for?

  • How familiar are you with federal, state, or local legal requirements?

  • What reporting structure do you have experience working with?

Become a certified bookkeeper and start a fruitful career

If you want to become a bookkeeper but have no work experience, going the certified bookkeeper route is a great strategy that will help you stand out from other applicants.

Ready to look at bookkeeping job opportunities near you? Take a look at the Jobcase job search for bookkeeping jobs that are currently hiring.


1 Comment


Svetlana Tully (Kuzmicheva)
Bullet point

It's my dream to become a bookkeeper. I don't have an experience, at the same time many years I was working in economic field. I am meticulous with numbers, responsible and strong on follow-up. Do I have a chance to build a career as a bookkeeper ?