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Learn bookkeeping with online courses and programs

Businesses maintain financial records to pay bills, calculate taxes, and more. Learn bookkeeping with online courses delivered through edX.

What is bookkeeping?

Bookkeeping is the practice of recording and tracking all the financial transactions of a business. Bookkeepers can summarize those records for stakeholders, invoice contractors, prepare tax returns, and pay bills.

Professionals in this field may be self-employed practitioners or work at bookkeeping firms that sell services to businesses including, but not limited to basic record keeping, tax return filing, and business strategy.

Some additional tasks that may fall under a bookkeeper’s role include:

  • Data entry

  • Calculating pay and deductions

  • Bank reconciliation

  • Accounts payable

  • Training staff to maintain financial records

  • End-of-year financial reporting

Capturing detailed financial records enables businesses to save time and resources when leaders need to measure profitability or perform an audit. Bookkeepers also help businesses strategize by providing accurate indicators of measurable success, and make filing taxes quicker and easier.Footnote 1

Bookkeeping | Introduction Image Description

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Bookkeeping course curriculum

Taking a bookkeeping course can introduce learners to the principles used in the practice. An online course may be complementary to a larger study in accounting or to coursework on entrepreneurship. There are many reasons a learner could benefit from understanding bookkeeping skills.

An introductory course in bookkeeping may cover some of the following topics:

  • Types of business transactions and how to document them

  • Double-entry bookkeeping systems

  • Banking process and transactions

  • Managing and calculating payroll

  • Maintaining ledger accounts

  • Understanding bank reconciliations

Explore bookkeeping jobs

A bookkeeper’s responsibilities will depend on the individual’s experience, education, and the industry they work in. For example, someone with a bachelor’s degree can work as an in-house bookkeeper for a company. They could be part of a team and handle a subset of the overall bookkeeping workload. For a smaller business, they might be the only bookkeeper on staff.

An individual with a master’s degree may be qualified to take on more advanced bookkeeping jobs that include strategy and leadership. Someone with an advanced degree could also be interested in founding their own bookkeeping firm and contracting out employees to other businesses.

Alternatively, learners who want to acquire bookkeeping skills quickly and for a specific purpose may find boot camps most useful. This could include someone who already holds a role in a business that needs to implement bookkeeping.

Other careers also include bookkeeping responsibilities, such as:

  • Accountant

  • Accounts receivable analyst

  • Office assistant

  • Payroll processing manager

  • Budget analyst

  • Chief financial officer

Just because an individual has bookkeeping experience or knowledge, does not mean they are qualified for any career that includes bookkeeping tasks. Careers like accounting and analysis may require specific degrees or training.

How to become a bookkeeper online

Becoming a bookkeeper will involve combining many different kinds of skills: finance, record keeping, technology, data management, and communication. There is no one path for learners to build this knowledge base.

For example, a bachelor’s degree in business can be tailored to many different professions. It could include coursework in accounting, business communication, and finance. Alternatively, an advanced degree in the same field, such as an online MBA, might focus more on business strategy and advanced accounting.

A boot camp in data analytics, or a topic such as fintech or technology project management could also complement an educational background in business and help learners round out their skill set.

The AIPB certificate, or American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers, is a certificate bookkeepers can obtain to show their professional expertise. A Certified Bookkeeper (CB) designation illustrates that the individual has advanced bookkeeping skills.

According to the AIPB, bookkeepers report that certification helped them gain new clients, job interviews, and raise their rates.Footnote 2

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