A common question asked by many people looking to start a career as a bookkeeper is “Do I need to be certified to work as a bookkeeper?” The short answer is no, you don’t need to be certified. In fact bookkeeping certification from the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB) can only be obtained by candidates who already have 2 years of full-time bookkeeping experience (or 3,000 hours of part-time work).
You are welcome to take the bookkeeping certification exam prior to completing the professional work requirement, but you won’t be able to claim the official certification until you have the 2 years of experience under your belt. That means that everyone who wants to eventually obtain certification has to start their career as an un-certified bookkeeper.
Many smaller companies are happy to hire people who haven’t yet obtained certification, since they are typically available at a lower pay rate. In some larger companies, there is also the opportunity to start out as a bookkeeping assistant or in another accounting-related position that will count toward your professional work experience requirement.
You’ll want to make sure that any entry level position you start out with offers you the chance to actually work on the items covered in the certification exam. Familiarity from your work environment with accruals, deferrals, correcting accounting errors, and handling bank reconciliations is essential. It is also important to learn about payroll and depreciation, as each of these areas is featured in the certification test.
Even if your entry level accounting job doesn’t give you the opportunity to work in each of these areas extensively, you can augment your on-the-job learning with classroom instruction. Online bookkeeping classes are also available, which is incredibly convenient, as they allow you to work schooling in around your work schedule.
If you put forth a good effort at your job, try to learn all you can, and add to your knowledge by taking online bookkeeping classes, you’ll find that you are extremely well-prepared when it comes time to take your bookkeeping certification exam.