Many bookkeepers are professionally certified although this is not a necessary prerequisite for most bookkeeping positions. An official certificate will, however, ensure an employer that an individual who is in their employ has some basic qualifications. The two major types of bookkeeping certificates, Certified Bookkeeper (CB) and Certified Public Bookkeeper (CPB), both establish that the individual who holds them has passed a competency exam as well as fulfilled some type of educational or work requirement. In addition, both of these certificates have ethical and continuing education components.
Issued by the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers, the Certified Bookkeeper (CB) certificate requires the verification of 3000 hours or two full years of accounting/bookkeeping experience. The applicant must also pass a two-part examination which covers the areas of payroll, depreciation, adjusting entries, bank reconciliation, inventory and internal controls. Part of this exam must be completed at a testing site while the other part can be completed on line. In addition, a candidate for this certification must sign the Code of Ethics established by the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers and must complete a minimum of 20 hours of approved continuing education each year in order to keep it.
The second general bookkeeping certificate, the Certified Public Bookkeeper (CPB), is issued by the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers. In order to receive this designation, an applicant must have fulfilled an education or experience requirement in one of the following three ways: 1) receive an Associate’s Degree or a Bachelor’s Degree in accounting, 2) earn a Bookkeeper Certificate from the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers or 3) verify 4000 hours or two full years of accounting/bookkeeping experience. In addition, an individual applying for this certificate must pass a four-part competency exam which covers accounting fundamentals, accounting principles, payroll fundamentals and QuickBooks. The applicant must also sign the Certified Public Bookkeeper Code of Professional Conduct. In order maintain certification, the certificate holder must complete 24 hours of continuing education during each calendar year.
In addition to these two general bookkeeping certificates, various specialty certificates are available. The National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers, which offers the Certified Public Bookkeeper designation, also offers advanced certificates in payroll, tax, Microsoft Office Excel and QuickBooks. On top of this, several software companies offer specialty designations for proficient use of their specific programs. The Certified QuickBooks User and the Microsoft Office Excel Certification are issued by Intuit and Microsoft, respectively.
Unlike the Certified Public Accountant designation, the various certificates issued by bookkeeping associations and software companies are not subjected to any state or federal regulations. They do, however, give employers information about a bookkeeper’s knowledge and experience. In addition, the Certified Public Bookkeeper and the Certified Bookkeeper designations ensure that the individuals that hold them are being held to high ethical standards as well as being required to complete continuing education requirements.
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