At some point during our lives, we all have to deal with numbers, such as taxes, budgeting, and managing personal finances. Having a foundational understanding of bookkeeping can help. The courses included here range in terms of the time commitment required and level of detail covered, but all of them should help you get started as you pursue a career in bookkeeping or help guide you if you're looking to take care of the books for your small business or for yourself.
We researched over 30 different online courses and selected the best bookkeeping classes based on content, price, third-party ratings, and user experience to help you learn the ins and outs of bookkeeping.
The 6 Best Online Bookkeeping Classes of 2021
AccountingCoach, LLC: Best Overall
AccountingCoach, LLC is our pick for best overall because they offer students the chance to learn the basics of bookkeeping for free. Plus, if you'd like to advance your learning, you have the option to 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.
Free materials and courses
Option to upgrade to paid classes that include video lessons, assessments, and an optional certificate of achievement
A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB)
Certain features are only available with the company's paid bookkeeping classes
With an A+ rating from the BBB, 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, which is the reason it takes the top spot on our list. You can even take practice quizzes and review the company's database of answers to the most frequently asked questions related to accounting basics, also at no cost.
Students have the option to upgrade to two paid options. The "PRO Access," which costs only $49 and provides additional video courses, quick assessments, business forms, and more. PRO Access features include access to study flashcards and tests with coaching included. The higher-tier "PRO Plus" includes all the features from PRO Access plus certificates of achievement for debits and credits, adjusting entries, financial statements, balance sheets, income statements, cash flow statements, payroll, and more, all for $99. Both the $49 and the $99 are one-time payments that grant students lifetime access to all of the materials.
U.S. Career Institute: Best for Certification
Accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) and offering personalized coaching and career support, the U.S. Career Institute is our top pick for getting a bookkeeping certification.
A+ rating from the BBB
Accredited by the DEAC
Students receive a bookkeeping certificate upon completion
Cost of course changes based on payment plan chosen
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. The institution has earned a 4.8-out-of-5-star rating on Trustpilot based on nearly 2,000 reviews.
The U.S. Career Institute's online bookkeeping course, designed to help interested professionals launch a bookkeeping career, offers four units covering the basics, from how to close the books, payroll, and accounts payable to advanced accounting terminology and more. The four-month course includes customized learning material, an e-book, one-on-one support from an instructor via email or over the phone, career coaching for graduates, and more. Once you complete the course, you can earn your certificate of completion. The certificate and the extra support the program offers make this a great choice if you're looking for credentials to add to your resume.
The course price starts at $589 if you pay the full amount at once upon registration. If you pay on a monthly basis, the course costs a total of $639. If you decide to mail your payment, the class costs $689 plus an application fee of $29.
Udemy: Best for Discounts
We picked Udemy's “Basics of Bookkeeping” as best for discounts because it offers a detailed class taught by an experienced instructor at a low cost of $74.99. With a limited-time discount available to new users of the platform, students may be able to purchase the class for as low as $14.99, or 80% off the full price.
Mobile app available
Certificate of completion provided
Covers the basic concepts and foundations of bookkeeping, but not how to actually perform bookkeeping
Udemy is a worldwide marketplace for online learning helping to connect all kinds of students with experts in their fields of interest. The company was founded in 2010 and to date they offer more than 130,000 courses.
The platform's "Basics of Bookkeeping" is taught by Ron Trucks, an experienced small business coach and college instructor with over 25 years of experience in the field. The course includes a total of 50 videos and is divided into 11 sections comprised of a total of 48 lectures. Students can learn the basic foundations of bookkeeping from concepts and tools used, tracking expenses, reading financial reports, and more.
This course has had more than 11,000 students and is designed for customers of all backgrounds, whether you are a student, an entrepreneur, or if you just want to understand more about bookkeeping. You can easily buy the course online and get started right away.
The program's low cost of $74.99 may be available for an even lower price, as new users of the platform can take an extra 80% off the price, bringing the total to $14.99. And that's why this one wins for best for discounts. Plus, Udemy has a 30-day money-back guarantee if you are not satisfied with the course.
LinkedIn Learning: Best for Fundamentals
We picked the LinkedIn Learning "Accounting Foundations: Bookkeeping" course for the best for fundamentals based upon the short length of the class. Students can get an overview of bookkeeping basics in about one and a half hours, from accounting professors from a top university.
Great for beginners
Accessible on mobile, tablet, and desktop
Option to take more courses and earn continuing professional education (CPE) credits
Need to sign up for a LinkedIn account
LinkedIn Learning is a branch of LinkedIn that the professional network site added in 2016 and today offers more than 16,000 different online courses in seven different languages, with the topics taught by professionals in their respective fields.
LinkedIn Learning's "Accounting Foundations: Bookkeeping" is our pick for the fundamentals because it packs a lot of expert advice in an approximately one-and-a-half-hour foundational bookkeeping course. You'll get a quick overview of how bookkeeping works, with access to additional quizzes. Plus, you'll learn to identify balance sheets, define journal entries, and get an understanding of how financial statements work, just to mention a few of the features. This class is taught by Kay Stice and Jim Stice, both accounting professors at Brigham Young University (BYU). When you take this course you have the option to advance to the next level, the 15-hour "Become a Bookkeeper" course.
You can register for the class directly on LinkedIn Learning for a one-time cost of $34.99 or sign up for a monthly LinkedIn Learning membership starting at $29.99 a month, with a one-month free trial that gives you access to thousands of other courses. Or, if you prefer, you can get an annual LinkedIn Learning membership to lower the cost to $19.99 a month. For any questions about the course and LinkedIn Learning's policies, you can reach out to the LinkedIn Learning hotline.
Penn Foster College Inc.: Best for a Career in Bookkeeping
Penn Foster College Inc. offers the best course we reviewed to get started in the accounting field, with a comprehensive program that includes an overview of the tools used in the industry, preparing you to start your career as a bookkeeper.
Provides an understanding of QuickBooks Online Plus
Get personalized coaching
Get a bookkeeping diploma
Monthly payment is more expensive than paying the full amount at once
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. In 2019, more than 58,000 students graduated from Penn Foster College.
The program covers topics such as payroll, wholesale accounting, revenue, expenses, assets, liabilities, financial reports, tools used in the industry, and more. For those who are serious about a career in bookkeeping, the class is taught by certified bookkeepers and offers a progress-tracking tool to measure your knowledge and where you are in the course.
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 $669 if you pay the full amount upon registration, $779 with monthly auto pay, and $875 if you choose to mail a monthly payment.
You can enroll directly on their 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 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET.
Coursera: Best for Small Businesses
Offered by the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business, this Coursera class is taught by top-ranked faculty and is tailored specifically to help small businesses understand their finances.
Taught by a top educational institution
Seven-day free trial
Financial aid available
While the class is free if completed within the seven-day free trial period, Coursera charges a $49 monthly fee beyond the trial period
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. To date, more than 73 million people have signed up for courses on the site and over 92,000 students have enrolled in this specific bookkeeping course, offered by the University of Virginia through the Darden School of Business.
Our pick as best for small businesses, the "Financial Accounting Fundamentals" class is tailored to help entrepreneurs and small business owners get a better understanding of how to keep track of their finances, 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 the Darden School of Business with an MBA from Duke University and a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina.
You can get academic and technical support through the Coursera support team or the Coursera community.
What Are Basic Bookkeeping Skills?
The basic skills needed to be an effective bookkeeper include having knowledge of math, being tech-savvy (as most tasks are computerized nowadays), 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 who can keep their financial records in order, document all of their key transactions, manage invoices, and have strong data entry skills.
What Does a Bookkeeping Class Include?
A bookkeeping class will give you a great 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 will also cover how to use popular bookkeeping software and may even offer bookkeeping certifications upon course completion. The level of detail and length of the course will depend on whether the classes are designed for someone looking to launch a career or simply help keep track of their small business finances.
Do I Need a Bookkeeping Certification?
While most companies do not require someone to have 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 one way to demonstrate your expertise and qualifications.
What Are the Expected Costs of Bookkeeping Classes?
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. Alternately, if you choose to enroll in a class with a traditional education institution, such as a college or university, the cost will jump up to close to $1,000.
How We Chose the Best Online Bookkeeping Classes
We know how important it is to find reliable online classes, so we researched over 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. Ultimately, we selected the best six classes, choosing only classes that were upfront about the cost of the class, shared how long the class will take to complete, provided student testimonies, and are led by experienced instructors who are professionals in the field.
Better Business Bureau. "AccountingCoach, LLC." Accessed November 12, 2020.