Pivotal Preparation to Become a Certified Bookkeeper

Becoming a Certified Bookkeeper Is a Rigorous Process for Many Reasons

Bookkeeping certification
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While it is common for professionals at small businesses to wear many hats at the same time, a certified bookkeeper (CB) must do so while staying abreast of regulatory guidelines. The way a business records and reports its financial activities may need to change in response to new rules issued by government authorities. A small business might not have the resources to hire an entire accounting firm to oversee such duties, which can include keeping track of payroll, billing, and other transactions.

That is where a certified bookkeeper comes into play.

Many small businesses tend to use bookkeepers as their sole financial officer who keeps watch on their accounts, according to the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB). Certified bookkeepers might be tasked with performing duties that require substantial financial expertise and training.

A professional who earns the certified bookkeeper designation is expected to possess the knowledge and skill necessary to perform the essential accounting functions that a small business requires. That can include demonstrating that you know how to prepare end-of-period adjustments, can conduct monthly bank reconciliations, process payroll, and record depreciation for both book and tax purposes.

Competitive Advantage

Bookkeepers who earn their certification may have a number of advantages over their peers who have not done so.

  • You can use the "CB" designation with your name to show your professional status. This can alert companies and potential clients to the skills you possess, which may improve the chances that your services will be retained by them.
  • You can increase your market value. Certified bookkeepers tend to receive higher salaries than peers who lack a nationally recognized accounting or bookkeeping certification.
  • Your importance to the company or clients may increase. The knowledge and expertise that come with earning certification will better prepare you to handle accounting, bookkeeping, and tax issues small business owners face.

    The Tests

    In order to become a certified bookkeeper, the candidate must pass a test. Organizations that administer such tests include AIPB and the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers (NACPB).

    NACPB and the National Bookkeepers Association are part of a company called Accounting Training Unlimited, which provides online training, testing, and professional certifications. The uniform bookkeeper certification test administered by this company is an open book, multiple-choice exam that covers topics such as analyzing business transactions, payroll computations, and financial statements.

    The AIPB has its own exam that includes questions about why accruals, deferrals, and other adjustments are made. You must also understand revenue recognition concepts, depreciation expense for tax and book, and payroll concepts. You should be prepared to complete federal reporting forms, required payroll data, and Form W-4 and state withholding forms. The exam tests your knowledge of internal controls and fraud prevention. The institute offers study materials, available through its website for a small fee, for content that may appear on the exam.

    Beyond the exam, the AIPB requires candidates for its bookkeeper certification to have a minimum of two years of related experience.

    Applicants for either test must also agree to abide by codes of ethics.

    Examination Locations and Fees

    The uniform bookkeeper certification test offered through Accounting Training Unlimited can be taken with any computer that has Internet access. The applicant must schedule a date and time for the exam and will then be given access to the test via email. The cost to take the test for the first time is $100 for members and $150 for nonmembers. Applicants who do not pass and wish to retake the test pay $50 as members and $75 for nonmembers.

    The AIPB test can be scheduled to be taken at any of the testing centers operated by a test administration company called Prometric. The cost of certification for members of AIPB is $479. Nonmembers must pay $574 for their certification.

    Continuing Education Requirements

    After attaining certification, ongoing training is required. At least 24 hours of annual training is mandated for the bookkeeper certification available through Accounting Training Unlimited.

    AIPB requires bookkeepers to complete 30 hours of continuing education per year to maintain their certification.