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A bookkeeping course can help if you're pursuing a career in the field, but it can also help you learn how to take care of the books for your small business or yourself.
Online courses vary in the time commitment required and level of detail covered, but all of them should help you get started and improve your skills in managing taxes, budgets, and personal finances.
We researched the top online bookkeeping courses and selected the best based on content, price, third-party ratings, and user experience to help you learn the ins and outs of the profession.
The 9 Best Online Bookkeeping Classes of 2022
- Best Overall: Skillshare
- Best Free Course Materials: AccountingCoach, LLC
- Best for Fundamentals: LinkedIn Learning
- Best for Discounts: Udemy
- Best for Self-Paced Education: Financial Edge
- Best for Small Businesses: Coursera
- Best for University Education: Harvard Business School
- Best for a Career in Bookkeeping: Penn Foster College
- Best for Certification: U.S. Career Institute
Best Overall : Skillshare
Take our favorite Skillshare bookkeeping course and others for free for one month
Highly rated class and well-liked teacher
One affordable membership includes access to hundreds of classes
Can’t buy individual classes
Must maintain Skillshare membership to access course
Skillshare has a nice variety of bookkeeping classes, many taught by professionals with years of experience in their field. We recommend starting with Bookkeeping for Freelancers: How to Handle Your Finances; it’s taught by Emily Simcox, a training team lead at Bench, a company that provides online bookkeeping services.
Access to Skillshare courses requires a yearly subscription, but you can try out a full month for free—that means you can take the entire Bookkeeping for Freelancers course, if you’d like, along with others. It's our pick for the best overall thanks to its easy accessibility and high-quality lessons.
Whether you’re a freelancer or small business owner, this simple course provides a great introduction to keeping track of basic expenses and revenue. You’ll learn the differences between cash basis accounting and accrual accounting, and how to determine which is best for your business. Simcox finishes by discussing the basics of categorizing transactions and organizing documents.
The class is relatively short, but it’ll give you a professional-grade foundation to continue learning. For more, see Skillshare’s full collection of bookkeeping courses. You’ll find classes on general topics like starting a bookkeeping business and bookkeeping for small businesses, along with classes on specific accounting tools like QuickBooks, Google Sheets, and Excel.
The downside to Skillshare’s all-inclusive membership is that you’ll lose access to the class materials if your membership expires. Class videos can be downloaded, but only through the Skillshare mobile app.
Best Free Course Materials : AccountingCoach, LLC
Free materials and courses
Upgrade to paid classes that include video lessons and assessments
Certain features are only available with paid classes
AccountingCoach, LLC is our pick here because it allows you to learn the basics of bookkeeping for free. If you're more serious, you can get additional study materials and earn a certification of achievement with the company's paid coursework at a relatively low cost, ranging from $49 to $99.
AccountingCoach, LLC is a web-based educational platform founded in 2003 by Harold Averkamp. Averkamp is a certified public accountant (CPA) who holds a masters in business administration (MBA) and has more than 25 years of experience in the accounting field. The company offers a great variety of accounting courses, covering accounting basics, bookkeeping, financial statements, and more—all completely free. You can even take practice quizzes and solve puzzles as another way to learn, also at no cost.
Students have the option to upgrade to two paid options. PRO Access costs $49 and provides additional video courses, quick assessments, business forms, and more. Its features include study flashcards and tests with coaching included. The higher-tier PRO Plus includes certificates of achievement for debits and credits, adjusting entries, financial statements, balance sheets, income statements, cash flow statements, payroll, and more, all for $99. The costs include lifetime access to all of the materials.
Best for Fundamentals : LinkedIn Learning
Great for beginners
Accessible on mobile, tablet, and desktop
Complete a final exam to earn continuing professional education (CPE) credits
Need to sign up for a LinkedIn account
We picked the LinkedIn Learning Accounting Foundations: Bookkeeping course as the best for fundamentals based on its short length and its focus on the basics. Students can get an overview of bookkeeping in about one and a half hours from accounting professors from a top university.
The class packs in a lot of expert advice; you'll get a quick overview of how bookkeeping works, with access to quizzes too. Then you'll learn to create balance sheets and income statements, define journal entries, and get an understanding of how financial statements work, to mention just a few topics.
This class is taught by Earl Stice and Jim Stice, both accounting professors at Brigham Young University (BYU). It's the first in a six-course path called "Become a Bookkeeper."
You can register for the class on its own for a one-time cost of $34.99, or sign up for a monthly LinkedIn Learning membership starting at $39.99 per month, with a one-month free trial. Or, if you prefer, you can get an annual LinkedIn Learning membership to lower the cost to $19.99 a month.
Best for Discounts : Udemy
Mobile app available
Focused more on basic and foundational concepts for beginners
We picked Udemy's Bookkeeping Basics #1: Understand the Fundamentals as best for discounts because it's a detailed class taught by an experienced instructor, at a list price of $89.99. However, discounts are frequently advertised and can save students 70% or more off the full price.
Bookkeeping Basics #1 is taught by Ron Trucks, an experienced small business coach and college instructor with more than 25 years of experience in the field. The course includes 50 videos divided into 11 sections. There are around four and a half hours of video in total. Students can learn the basic foundations of bookkeeping like concepts and tools used, tracking expenses, reading financial reports, and more.
This course has had over 19,000 students, with more frequently joining, and it's designed for people of all backgrounds, whether you're a student, an entrepreneur, or just someone who wants to understand more about bookkeeping.
The program's list price of $89.99 is frequently discounted substantially, though the amount of those discounts varies from time to time. Udemy has a 30-day money-back guarantee if you're not satisfied with the course.
Udemy has a variety of courses to help launch your bookkeeping career or help you along; see Udemy's full selection of bookkeeping courses for more.
Best for Self-Paced Education : Financial Edge
73 practical Excel exercises
Direct help from instructor
No discussion of specific accounting software (according to the syllabus)
Few customer reviews online
Financial Edge has quite a few classes on accounting and finance; Accounting Essentials distills the key lessons to help you “quickly and confidently interpret financial data and statements, evaluate them and use the calculated information to build high-quality reports.”
Unlike some other self-paced courses, which are quite short and simple, Accounting Essentials is expected to take about 10.5 hours and includes 73 practical Excel exercises. The price includes lifetime access so you can take your time and come back to the material whenever you’d like. Financial Edge offers direct instructor help for students as well, so you can ask questions if you get stuck.
Accounting Essentials begins with an explanation of balance sheets, income statements, and cash flow statements. You’ll learn to calculate EBIT and EBITDA, and how to judge an organization’s profitability compared to similar companies. There are even sections on due diligence and how to identify when a company is manipulating its sales data.
The class continues with more advanced topics, like how to analyze the capital structure of a company and determine various accounting ratios (leverage ratios, profitability ratios, asset ratios, etc.). When you’re finished you should have a solid foundation in bookkeeping for small businesses, and you’ll have a completion certificate to show for it.
If you like Financial Edge and you’re looking for something more comprehensive, consider The Accountant course. It includes the Accounting Essentials class along with two others (Financial Accounting Review and M&A Accounting), and you’ll earn a skills certificate when you’re done.
Best for Small Businesses : Coursera
Taught by a top educational institution
Financial aid available
Seven-day free trial
$59 monthly fee beyond the trial period
Offered by the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business, this Coursera class is taught by top-ranked faculty and is specifically tailored to help small business owners understand their finances.
Coursera is an education platform founded in 2012 by Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller, both computer science professors at Stanford, with all courses taught by experienced professionals from top universities or companies. Close to 110 million people have signed up for courses and about 120,000 students have enrolled in this specific bookkeeping course.
Our pick as best for small businesses, the "Financial Accounting Fundamentals" class is designed to help entrepreneurs and small business owners keep track of their finances more effectively, from bookkeeping to preparing financial statements. This is a 14-hour video course that includes quizzes for each section to check your knowledge. You can complete everything on your own time and you don't need prior experience in accounting.
The class is taught by Luann J. Lynch, a professor of business administration at Darden with an MBA from Duke University and a doctorate from the University of North Carolina. You can get academic and technical support through the Coursera support team or the Coursera community.
Best for University Education : Harvard Business School
Taught by a prestigious university
Comprehensive lessons and exercises
Prepares you for an MBA or professional career
Real-world examples and case studies
Only taught at certain times each year
If you’re planning a career that involves managing the books for a small or medium-sized business, a 90-minute course probably won’t cut it. Consider Harvard Business, which offers an eight-week-long Financial Accounting course that’ll take you from the basics of balance sheets all the way to valuing a new investment opportunity.
This is an introductory course, but it requires a significant time commitment, with about 60 hours of material in all. It’s self-paced, although there are regular deadlines, and it’s recommended that students spend six to eight hours per week learning. The class is designed for college students and recent grads, grads considering an MBA, and mid-career professionals.
Financial Accounting progresses through seven modules; each one includes some case studies, key lessons to learn, and exercises and quizzes to cement and test your knowledge. You’ll begin with simple accounting concepts and principles before moving on to complex transactions and financial forecasting. To understand how it all works in the real world, you’ll look at companies like Apple, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Morgan Stanley, and Estée Lauder.
This course is taught by V.G. Narayanan, the Thomas D. Casserly, Jr. Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. It’s fully online, and there is no live instruction.
Harvard offers Financial Accounting at specific times throughout the year, so check the application deadlines and program dates. This course is relatively expensive (it’s free to apply) and you’ll learn a lot more than simple bookkeeping, so it’s not right for everyone. But if you’re serious about developing the skills needed to work with finance and want to leave no stone unturned, it could be worth the investment.
Best for a Career in Bookkeeping : Penn Foster College
Includes one-year subscription to QuickBooks
Support from student services
Exams and projects to keep you on track
Penn Foster College Inc. offers one of the best courses to get started in the accounting field, with a comprehensive program that includes an overview of the tools used in the industry. When you finish you'll be prepared to start your career as a bookkeeper.
Founded in 1890 by Thomas J. Foster, Penn Foster College has been offering online classes since 2006 and is an accredited entity by the DEAC.
The program covers topics such as payroll, wholesale accounting, revenue, expenses, assets, liabilities, financial reports, tools used in the industry, and more. With this program, you'll get eight courses which feature 14 exams and three submitted projects. The program also offers experience working with popular software tools such as Excel and Quickbooks.
To help you launch your career, you can join other bookkeeping students through the college student community portal to get peer support. At the end of the program, students should expect to have a full understanding of the main tasks of a bookkeeper and can start applying for jobs in the field. The total cost of the program is $989, with options to pay the full amount upon registration, mail a monthly payment, or set up a monthly automatic payment.
You can enroll directly on the website by simply filling out the registration form, providing a method of payment. If you have any questions, you can call the school's admissions hotline number from 9 a.m.–9 p.m. ET.
Best for Certification : U.S. Career Institute
Accredited by the DEAC
Military and VA benefits
A more expensive option
The U.S. Career Institute is our top pick for getting a bookkeeping certification because it's accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) and offers personalized coaching and career support,
With headquarters in Colorado, the U.S Career Institute was founded in 1981 and offers more than 25 career certificates across different industries, from healthcare to business.
This online associate's degree in accounting includes training in accounting principles, business law, workplace psychology, small business management, economics, and tax accounting. The program also provides career support to help you get into a new job.
The class costs $139 per month and can be completed in as little as 16 months.
The best online bookkeeping classes are easily accessible, taught by qualified instructors, and deliver high-quality lessons. That's what you'll get from our top pick, Bookkeeping for Freelancers: How to Handle Your Finances on Skillshare, which provides everything you need to get started within the one-month free trial.
Or, you may find a perfect fit among our other top picks. Check Udemy for discounted prices on in-depth classes taught by excellent instructors. Like Skillshare, it has a variety of classes to browse. A college-level course, like one offered through Coursera or the Harvard Business School, could be a good choice if you're more serious and want to take your skills to the next level.
|Skillshare Best Overall||$167.88/year||1-month free trial||No|
|AccountingCoach, LLC Best Free Course Materials||$49–$99||No||Achievement certificate with Pro Plus|
|LinkedIn Learning Best for Fundamentals||$34.99 (one-time fee), or $239.88/year or $39.99/month||1-month free trial||LinkedIn Learning Certificate, 2.8 CPE credits|
|Udemy Best for Discounts||$89.99||Free bookkeeping-related courses||Completion certificate, 7.0 NASBA CPE credits|
|Financial Edge Best for Self-Paced Education||$119||No||Completion certificate|
|Coursera Best for Small Businesses||Free||Free paid learning program||Completion certificate|
|Harvard Business School Best for University Education||$1,750||No||Completion certificate|
|Penn Foster College Inc. Best for a Career in Bookkeeping||$989 (one-time fee) or $59/month||No||DEAC accreditation, 26.6 CEUs|
|U.S. Career Institute Best for Certification||$139/month||No||DEAC accreditation|
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are Basic Bookkeeping Skills?
The basic skills needed to be an effective bookkeeper include knowledge of math, being tech-savvy, and paying close attention to details, as you will be surrounded by numbers and financial reports all day long. Generally, employers are looking for someone with strong data entry skills who can keep their financial records in order, document all of their key transactions, and manage invoices.
What Does a Bookkeeping Class Include?
A bookkeeping class gives you an overview of the primary functions and concepts of bookkeeping, such as financial statements and journal entries, as well as how to record expenses, profits, revenues, losses, and much more. Some also cover how to use popular bookkeeping software and may even offer certifications upon course completion. The level of detail and length of the course will depend on whether it's designed for someone looking to launch a career or simply keep better track of their small business finances.
Do I Need a Bookkeeping Certification?
While most companies do not require a certification to be a bookkeeper, it does help if you want to launch a career in the accounting industry and would like to be considered for high-income opportunities. Getting your bookkeeping certification with one of the two main nationally recognized certifying bodies, either the National Association of Certified Bookkeepers or the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers, is a good way to demonstrate your expertise and qualifications. There are a variety of other accounting certifications to choose from, as well.
How Much Do Bookkeeping Classes Cost?
The cost of enrolling in a bookkeeping class depends on the type of course you choose. The classes listed here start off as low as $0 if you enroll in an online learning platform with a free trial or free course materials. Alternatively, if you choose to enroll in a class with a traditional educational institution, such as a college or university, the cost can exceed $1,000.
We know how important it is to find reliable online classes, so we researched more than 30 different sites offering online bookkeeping classes, from educational institutions to online learning platforms. We considered the reputations of the institutions offering the courses as well as those of the instructors. We also examined the types and costs of class materials, the availability of in-person support, and the success rates of students.