Tap to Read ➤

How to Attain Certification in Bookkeeping

Puja Lalwani
Attaining certification in bookkeeping qualifies you for a higher salary, and greater value in the professional world. Taking some time to develop your career by attaining the necessary certification is absolutely worth it. Read more for details regarding this occupation.
The job of a bookkeeper is to maintain the financial records of small and mid-sized companies. Whether you want to pursue a professional career, or want to manage the accounts of your company on your own, bookkeeping is a highly delicate job that relies much on professional ethics and handling sensitive data.
Getting professional certification ensures that you are given some preference for this job. This process does not take much time, as long as you fulfill certain important requirements.


The preparation to venture into this field starts as early as high school. Though certification is not mandatory for you to work as a bookkeeper, it is definitely an added benefit that reflects well on your resume. You can undertake these steps -

Step 1: Complete High School

Possessing a high school diploma or a GED is the first important step that needs to be completed. In high school, you should focus on subjects such as Mathematics and Accounts, if you have already decided to pursue bookkeeping in the future.
Later in your life, even if you decide to apply for a bookkeeping course, as long as you have a high school diploma or a GED, you should do fine. Some colleges may or may not require you to provide the SAT or ACT scores along with your high school grades.

Step 2: Pursue a Certificate

Apply to a college that offers a certificate in bookkeeping. The duration is usually one and a half years. You are taught all the basics of accounting, payroll taxes and using computerized accounting program. This is most important because companies maintain records on computers using accounting software for easy maintenance and checking of accounts.

Step 3: Get Some Work Experience

After completing this course, it is mandatory for you to get at least 2 years of work experience, before you become eligible for certification in this field.
You also must indicate an understanding of the ethics involved in bookkeeping so that you can be eligible for the test that is administered to provide certification. You cannot be certified unless you provide evidence, that you have attained 2 years of full-time experience, or 3,000 hours of part-time experience.

Step 4: Attain Certification

The certificate is provided by the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB). The steps necessary for this process are:
  • You must complete a 4 part national certification exam, consisting of multiple choice questions in parts 1 and 2. Parts 3 and 4 are open book examinations. Several colleges offer courses to prepare and master this exam.
  • You must pass in all sections (attain a minimum of 75% in sections 1 and 2, and 70% in sections 3 and 4) to attain certification. If you fail in any section, you can again give the exam for that particular section.
  • Once you complete this step, you will have to sign the AIPB code of ethics (that mentions the ethical responsibilities of bookkeeping).
  • After this, you are awarded the title of Certified Professional Bookkeeper (CPB).
  • Every three years, you are required to obtain 60 continuing educational credits to maintain your certification.
As a CPB, you will not only be entitled to higher salaries, but also will be capable of starting your own bookkeeping firm, after attaining the necessary experience. Certification also entitles you to go ahead and specialize in accounting, which can be done at a later stage.