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A course in bookkeeping certainly can help if pursuing a career in the field, but it's also worthwhile simply for taking care of the books for your small business or yourself.
Online courses vary in terms of the time commitment required and level of detail covered, but all of them should help you get started and improve your skills managing taxes, budgets, and personal finances.
We researched more than 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 the profession.
Best Overall : AccountingCoach, LLC
AccountingCoach, LLC is our pick for best overall because it offers 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
Certain features are available only with the company's paid bookkeeping classes
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 solve puzzles for 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 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.
Best for Certification : U.S. Career Institute
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.
Accredited by the DEAC
Students receive an associate degree online
A more expensive option
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 U.S. Career Institute's online associates degree in accounting offers training in accounting principles, business law, workplace psychology, small-business management, economics, and tax accounting. The program also comes with career support to help you get into a new job.
The course costs $139 per month and can be completed in as little as 16 months.
Best for Discounts : Udemy
We picked Udemy's "Basics of Bookkeeping” as best for discounts because it offers a detailed class taught by an experienced instructor at a list price of $89.99. However, discounts frequently are advertised and can save students 70% or more off the full price.
Mobile app available
Certificate of completion provided
The course is focused more on basic and foundational concepts for beginners
Udemy is a worldwide marketplace for online learning helping to connect all kinds of students with experts in their fields of interest. The company has over 185,000 courses taught by over 64,000 instructors. Over 49 million people have taken a Udemy course.
The platform's "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 and is divided into 11 sections. There is around four and a half hours of video in total. Students can learn the basic foundations of bookkeeping from concepts and tools used, tracking expenses, reading financial reports, and more.
This course has had around 18,000 students with more frequently joining 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 easily can buy the course online and get started right away.
The program's list price of $89.99 frequently is discounted substantially, though the amount of those discounts varies from time to time. Udemy has a 30-day money-back guarantee if you are not satisfied with the course.
Best for Fundamentals : LinkedIn Learning
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 17,500 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 quizzes too. Plus, you'll learn to create balance sheets and income statements, define journal entries, and get an understanding of how financial statements work, just to mention a few topics. This class is taught by Kay Stice and Jim Stice, both accounting professors at Brigham Young University (BYU). This course is the first in a six course path called "Become a Bookkeeper". After completing it, you can take the subsequent courses to learn more.
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 $39.99 a month, with a one-month free trial. Or, if you prefer, you can get an annual LinkedIn Learning membership to lower the cost to $26.99 a month. For any questions about the course and LinkedIn Learning's policies, you can reach out to LinkedIn Learning customer service or consult the help center.
Best for a Career in Bookkeeping : Penn Foster College Inc.
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
Support from student services
Get a bookkeeping "Career 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.
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 15 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 $749 if you pay the full amount upon registration, $949 with monthly auto-pay, and $989 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 9 a.m.–9 p.m. ET.
Best for Small Businesses : Coursera
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
Financial aid available
Seven-day free trial
While the class is free if completed within the seven-day free trial period, Coursera charges a $59 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. More than 82 million people have signed up for courses on the site and more than 115,000 students have enrolled in this specific bookkeeping course, offered by the University of Virginia's 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 Darden 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 gives 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 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 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.
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 testimonials, and are led by experienced instructors who are professionals in the field.