One of the most important things business owners need to track is their finances so they can understand how their businesses are performing. The process of recording and reporting the financial transactions of a business is done through bookkeeping and accounting. Online bookkeeping classes are designed to help people learn how to record and report financial information.
You might consider taking an online bookkeeping class if you’re an entrepreneur wanting to keep track of your own finances or if you’re someone who wants a career in bookkeeping. In settling on the best online bookkeeping classes, we reviewed over a dozen courses based on how much they cost, the topics covered, and more. Read on to learn about the best options.
The Best Online Bookkeeping Classes for 2021
- Best Overall: Become a Bookkeeper From LinkedIn Learning
- Best for Flexible Pricing: Bookkeeping Diploma by Penn Foster College
- Best Free Option: Bookkeeping Training by AccountingCoach
- Best for Beginners: Financial Accounting Foundations From Coursera
- Best for Advanced: Formal Financial Accounting From Coursera
- Best Self-Paced: Bookkeeping Basics From Udemy
- Best Certificate Program: National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers
Best Overall : Become a Bookkeeper From LinkedIn Learning
Why We Chose It: The low cost of the program, reputable instructors, and inclusion of QuickBooks materials made the Become a Bookkeeper program from LinkedIn Learning stand out.
Costs as low as $19.99 a month
Includes materials related to QuickBooks
Provides a badge of completion to display on your LinkedIn profile
Doesn’t provide a free option
Access to instructors isn’t available
Doesn’t include a bookkeeping certificate
Become a Bookkeeper is a six-course program offered by LinkedIn Learning. The instructors include two well-known university professors, Dr. Jim Stice and his brother, Dr. Earl Kay Stice. In this program, not only will you master accounting and bookkeeping fundamentals, but you’ll also learn the basics of QuickBooks, the most widely used accounting software program. This course includes 14 hours of online videos and reading materials at a cost as low as $19.99 a month.
To complete this program, you can purchase a monthly subscription to LinkedIn Learning, which will cost $19.99 a month if you pay for an annual subscription upfront or $29.99 a month if you choose to pay monthly. You can also get one month free if you’re new to LinkedIn Learning. If you don’t want to purchase a subscription, you can buy each of the six courses at a cost ranging from $34.99 to $49.99 each.
A summary of the online bookkeeping classes included in this program from LinkedIn and the stand-alone costs is provided below:
|Course Title||Stand-Alone Cost*|
|Accounting Foundations: Bookkeeping||$34.99|
|Finance Essentials for Small Business||$34.99|
|Running a Profitable Business: Understanding Cash Flow||$39.99|
|QuickBooks Online Essential Training||$39.99|
|QuickBooks Desktop: Tips and Tricks||$44.99|
|QuickBooks: Advanced Bookkeeping Techniques||$49.99|
*Note: If you purchase a monthly subscription from LinkedIn Learning, you won’t have to pay any additional fees for these courses.
If you complete all six courses included in the program, you’ll get a badge of completion to display on your LinkedIn profile, which can be a good way to share your bookkeeping knowledge with your existing network and future clients or employers.
The main drawback to this online bookkeeping class is that you won’t have access to instructors if you have questions. However, this isn’t unusual for online courses. If you have issues with your LinkedIn Learning account or have questions about getting a job or managing your LinkedIn profile, you can access the company’s robust online Help Center.
Best for Flexible Pricing : Bookkeeping Diploma by Penn Foster College
Why We Chose It: You can complete the bookkeeping diploma program from Penn Foster College in as few as five months and you can choose from several flexible payment options.
Savings of up to $186 are available if you pay your tuition upfront
Monthly payment plans are available (as low as $49 a month) with autopay discounts
Unlimited student support and access to instructors is available
Tuition costs of $689 to $875 are relatively high
Additional training or experience may be required to get a state license or certification
Bookkeeping Diploma is a bookkeeping career diploma program offered through Penn Foster College. The college has earned national accreditation from the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC). The DEAC is a non-profit accreditation organization that was founded in 1926. Also, Penn Foster College is licensed by the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education.
With the online Bookkeeping Diploma program from Penn Foster College, you can learn how to be a bookkeeper in as few as five months. The pricing for the online bookkeeping class from Penn Foster is flexible, allowing you to choose the payment option that best fits your needs. Program costs range from $689 if you pay in full to $875 if you make monthly payments, with autopay discounts reducing the cost to $799. Monthly payments can be as low as $49.
You’ll complete the eight courses included in Penn Foster’s self-paced bookkeeping program fully online. Each course is broken into manageable written lessons. Plus, you’ll have access to tools to help you set goals, develop a learning schedule, and create a customized timeline for completion. This can help make it easier to finish the course in a reasonable amount of time.
The eight courses included in Penn Foster’s bookkeeping program cover these topics:
- Orientation to Bookkeeping: Bookkeeping Basics
- Assets, Liabilities, and Owner’s Equity
- Revenue, Expenses, and Financial Reports
- Payroll and Wholesale Accounting
- End-of-Month Accounting
- Excel for Bookkeeping
- Computer Applications in Accounting: QuickBooks
- Bookkeeping Project: Complete a Financial Report
Unlike many of the other online bookkeeping courses we reviewed, you’ll be able to interact with the student services department, experienced instructors, and other students if you want. This is a good option for people who want to know support is just an email or phone call away.
Although you’ll earn a diploma with this program, you’ll need to check with your state to see if there are any certification or licensing requirements as this diploma might not meet them.
Best Free Option : Bookkeeping Training by AccountingCoach
Why We Chose It: With AccountingCoach, you get free access to materials for 33 different bookkeeping topics from a CPA with more than 25 years of experience without even needing to sign in.
No signup required to access free materials for 21 bookkeeping topics
Free materials are varied, including games and quizzes
FAQ library is extensive
Instructor support isn’t available
Videos aren’t included with free materials
Materials on common accounting software programs aren’t included
AccountingCoach offers a free online bookkeeping course that covers all of the accounting basics. Unlike many other online bookkeeping classes we reviewed, you don’t need to sign up for an account to review the materials. By simply visiting its website, you’ll access free written explanations, practice quizzes, frequently asked questions, and games for 33 bookkeeping topics. These are the best free bookkeeping class materials we’ve reviewed.
If you want access to videos, accounting cheat sheets, flashcards, printable PDFs, and more, you can purchase an AccountingCoach PRO account for a one-time fee of $49. To access all of the PRO materials plus gain the ability to earn certificates of completion in 10 different bookkeeping topics, you can purchase a PRO Plus account for a one-time fee of $99.
All of the instructional materials provided by AccountingCoach are created by Harold Averkamp, a CPA and MBA with over 25 years of accounting experience. The biggest drawback to this online bookkeeping class is that you can’t reach out to Mr. Averkamp to ask questions. However, his detailed Q&A library includes the answers to more than 1,000 questions.
Another drawback is that AccountingCoach doesn’t include lessons on accounting software programs commonly used by bookkeepers, like QuickBooks. If you need to learn how to use QuickBooks or another accounting software program, you’ll need to choose a different course.
If you have issues with your PRO or PRO Plus account, you can submit your question online, and someone from AccountingCoach will get in touch with you.
Best for Beginners : Financial Accounting Foundations From Coursera
Why We Chose It: The Financial Accounting Foundations class offered through Coursera covers all the basics beginners need to know about bookkeeping. Plus, you can audit the course for free or earn a certification of completion if you purchase a Coursera subscription.
Course is offered by the University of Illinois through Coursera
You can audit the course for free
Coursera subscriptions allow you to complete as many courses in a specialization as you want for $49.99 a month
To earn a certificate of completion, you’ll need to purchase a Coursera subscription
Doesn’t include materials related to common bookkeeping software programs
Coursera partners with over 200 top universities and companies to provide affordable content to learners across the globe. We chose the Financial Accounting Foundations class offered by the University of Illinois via Coursera as the best online bookkeeping class for beginners because it covers the basics of accounting you’ll need to know as a bookkeeper.
Through Coursera, beginners can audit a Financial Accounting Foundations course offered by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for free. If you want a certificate of completion, you can purchase a Coursera subscription for $59 a month (new subscribers get a free seven-day trial period).
You’ll complete this course fully online at your own pace, although you can expect it to take about 14 hours to go through all of the materials. The materials include course videos, readings, and practice quizzes. Plus, you’ll get access to discussion boards where you can ask questions and get feedback from course moderators and your classmates.
The topics covered in this Financial Accounting Foundations course are as follows:
- Introduction to Financial Accounting
- Recording Transactions and Financial Statement Preparation
- Fundamental Accounting Concepts and Revenue Recognition
- Short-Term Assets
At the end of the course, you’ll understand the main types of financial statements and why they’re used, how to record financial transactions and their impact on the financial statements, the basics of the accrual basis of accounting, and how to account for accounts receivable and inventory. These are the most basic accounting topics any beginning bookkeeper needs to understand.
However, you won’t learn how to use common accounting software programs like QuickBooks with this course; you’ll need to take a separate course for that.
If you purchase a Coursera subscription, you’ll get a certificate of completion that you can share with others once you’ve completed the course materials. Plus, you can even decide to continue and earn an iMBA from the University of Illinois, as this course is a part of that program’s curriculum.
Best for Advanced : Formal Financial Accounting From Coursera
Why We Chose It: The Formal Financial Accounting course offered through Coursera offers a comprehensive curriculum for those with bookkeeping experience, and you can apply the courses to the iMBA degree.
You can audit the course for free
You’re required to have a foundation of basic accounting knowledge
You can interact with your peers and course moderators
You’ll need to pay $79 to earn a certificate of completion
You won’t learn how to use any accounting software programs
Coursera offers a Formal Financial Accounting course in partnership with the University of Illinois for people who want to expand their existing bookkeeping knowledge. You can either audit the course for free or pay $79 to earn a certificate of completion. This course is best for advanced learners since it assumes you have foundational accounting knowledge.
You can expect the course to take about 10 hours to complete, and you’ll work at your own pace. The course materials include videos, readings, and practice exercises. Plus, you’ll get to interact with your classmates and course moderators in a discussion forum.
The topics included the formal financial accounting course from Coursera include the following:
- Introduction to Financial Accounting Terminology
- Formal Financial Accounting for Assets
- Formal Financial Accounting for Liabilities and Shareholders’ Equity
- Applications of Formal Financial Accounting
By the end of the course, you’ll understand the entire accounting cycle. This begins with posting financial transactions and ends with preparing a company’s financial statements. However, if you need to learn how to use accounting software like QuickBooks, that’s not covered in this course. You’ll need to take an additional course for that.
One of the benefits of taking online bookkeeping classes from Coursera is learning from well-known universities, like the University of Illinois. Coursera partners with more than 200 universities and companies to deliver course materials that are job-relevant, affordable, and flexible.
Additionally, if you want to earn an iMBA, this course is a part of the University of Illinois' curriculum.
Best Self-Paced : Bookkeeping Basics From Udemy
Why We Chose It: Udemy offers three Bookkeeping Basics classes that are great for people who want self-paced learning and lifetime access to the course materials.
No monthly subscription fee required
Comes with a certificate of completion
Includes downloadable resources and lifetime access to all course materials
Courses cost $74.99 each
Doesn’t include access to instructors
If you appreciate the flexibility of self-paced learning, then Udemy offers a series of three Bookkeeping Basics classes that are great for this. The courses will cost you $89.99 each and come with on-demand videos, relevant articles, downloadable resources, and completion certificates. The best part is that you can take as much or as little time to complete the courses as you need since you’re not required to pay a monthly subscription fee.
The three Bookkeeping Basic courses offered by Udemy that we think are best for self-paced learning are:
|Bookkeeping Basics #1: Understand the Fundamentals||You’ll learn the basics of what bookkeeping is and what a bookkeeper does||4.5 hours of on-demand video and 52 downloadable resources||$74.99|
|Bookkeeping Basics #2: Understand the Mechanics||You’ll learn how to record financial transactions||3.5 hours of on-demand video, 7 articles, and 126 downloadable resources||$74.99|
|Bookkeeping Basics #3: QuickBooks Fundamentals||You’ll learn the basics of using the QuickBooks accounting software program||5 hours of on-demand video, 6 articles, and 146 downloadable resources||$74.99|
You can purchase one or all of these online bookkeeping classes, depending on what you would like to learn. Once you’ve purchased the course, you can complete it as quickly or as slowly as you want. Plus, you’ll receive lifetime access to all of the course materials. After you’ve finished the courses, you’ll get certificates of completion that you can share with others.
One of the biggest drawbacks to this online bookkeeping class is that you won’t have access to your instructor. However, you can contact Udemy online if you need support on your account or help to answer commonly asked questions.
Best Certificate Program : National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers
Why We Chose It: The National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers has an online program to help people become licensed as a Certified Public Bookkeeper (CPB).
Once you meet the program requirements, you’ll earn a Certified Public Bookkeeper (CPB) license
CPB license is recognized throughout the United States
Six courses and four certifications are required to complete the CPB program
Costs range from $2,400 to $3,000
Program will likely take a year or more to complete
Continuing education is required annually to maintain your license
If you want to become a Certified Public Bookkeeper (CPB), then you can complete the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers’ (NACPB) CPB program. The NACPB is one of several notable professional bookkeeping organizations in the U.S. Once you’ve completed the NACPB program requirements, you’ll receive a CPB license recognized throughout the United States. This is something that isn’t offered by any of the other online bookkeeping classes on our list.
To meet the Certified Public Bookkeeper requirements, you’ll need to:
- Complete six courses and obtain four certifications in bookkeeping, payroll, QuickBooks Online, and accounting;
- Complete one year of verified bookkeeping experience;
- Abide by the Professional Code of Conduct required for CPBs; and
- Complete 24 hours of continuing professional education annually to maintain your license.
If you’re a member of the NACPB, the program will cost you $2,400. Non-members can also complete the program but at the cost of $3,000. An annual membership to the NACPB costs $200 to $250, depending on the benefits you want to receive. In addition to discounts on training courses, certifications, and licenses, your membership will give you access to various training videos and other resources.
Even though the program’s courses are self-paced, they’re delivered in an online format and come with instructor access. Each course includes an e-book, reading materials, exercises, quizzes, and videos. You can also purchase a paper copy of the textbook for an additional $60 if this is something you would prefer.
The amount of time it will take you to complete the Certified Public Bookkeeper program will depend on the amount of time you devote to it. However, our expectation is this program will likely take at least a year to finish.
When choosing an online bookkeeping class, it’s important to consider your career goals, your budget and how much you’re willing to spend, and how quickly you need to complete the course. If you’re just looking for a boost in your accounting knowledge to understand your company’s financial statements better, then it might be best to choose a free option. If you’re looking to break into the bookkeeping profession, then a more comprehensive bookkeeping class is a better option.
We selected the Become a Bookkeeper course from LinkedIn Learning as the overall best online bookkeeping class because it offers the most comprehensive training at a cost as low as $19.99 a month. Plus, you’ll even learn how to use QuickBooks, the most common accounting software program.
|Online Bookkeeping Class||Why We Picked It||Starting Cost|
|Become a Bookkeeper From LinkedIn Learning||You’ll learn all the accounting basics needed to be a bookkeeper, including how to use QuickBooks||As low as $19.99 per month|
|Bookkeeping Diploma by Penn Foster College||You’ll get a bookkeeping diploma and can choose from a variety of flexible payment options||As low as $689|
|Bookkeeping Training by AccountingCoach, LLC||You can access materials on 21 different bookkeeping topics for free, without needing to log in or sign up||Free|
|Financial Accounting Foundations From Coursera||You’ll learn the financial accounting foundations from the University of Illinois for free if you audit the course||Free|
|Formal Financial Accounting From Coursera||You can expand on your basic accounting knowledge and get to interact with your fellow students and course moderators||Free|
|Bookkeeping Basics From Udemy||You’ll learn the bookkeeping basics in a series of three courses at your own pace and get lifetime access to the materials||$74.99 per course|
|National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers||You can earn a nationally recognized license as a Certified Public Bookkeeper||As low as $2,400|
What Are the Different Types of Bookkeeping?
There are two basic types of bookkeeping, the cash basis of accounting and the accrual basis of accounting. The simpler of the two types of accounting is the cash basis of accounting, in which revenue and expenses are recorded only when cash changes hands. This is typically only good for very small businesses. Most businesses use the accrual basis of accounting required by GAAP, in which businesses record revenues and expenses when earned or incurred.
Regardless of the type of bookkeeping used, small businesses need to make sure they’re keeping good track of their financial records. Businesses can accomplish this by learning how to do their own accounting using bookkeeping software, hiring a professional bookkeeper or accountant, or outsourcing accounting tasks to a virtual bookkeeping service.
What Are Online Bookkeeping Classes?
Online bookkeeping classes teach individuals the basic accounting principles needed to keep track of a business’s financial transactions. Some bookkeeping classes will also teach the learner how to use QuickBooks and other accounting software programs. Online bookkeeping classes equip individuals with the knowledge they need to work as bookkeepers or keep track of their own small business's financial transactions.
Should I Get a Bookkeeping Certification?
If you’re new to the bookkeeping profession, then a bookkeeping certification might make it easier for you to find a job or attract clients. This is because the certification will help show that you have the required knowledge. However, if you’ve been working in the profession for many years or have a formal degree in accounting, then a bookkeeping certification might not be necessary. Your education and experience will instead evidence your knowledge.
How Can an Online Bookkeeping Class Help My Career?
If you want to pursue bookkeeping as a career or you need to boost your knowledge of accounting for your career, then an online bookkeeping class can help. The boost the class gives your career will depend on the course you take and your career goals.
For example, a course in accounting fundamentals might enable you to read and understand financial statements. This can be helpful if you’re a manager or the owner of a small business, and you need to understand the information your accountants are giving you. However, it probably won’t be enough to help you succeed as a bookkeeper. You’ll likely need to take multiple bookkeeping courses if you want to break into the bookkeeping profession.
What Do Online Bookkeeping Classes Cost?
Online bookkeeping classes cost anywhere from free to several thousand dollars. Free courses will teach you the basics of accounting and bookkeeping whereas more expensive online bookkeeping classes will allow you to earn a diploma or even obtain a bookkeeping license.
How We Chose the Best Online Bookkeeping Classes
We reviewed over a dozen online bookkeeping classes to understand how much it will cost, what you’ll learn, the materials you’ll access, how long they take to complete, and the type of support you’ll receive.
The free courses can be completed in as few as several hours and don’t include a certificate of completion. The most expensive online bookkeeping classes can take five months to a year to complete but will come with a diploma or bookkeeping license.
All of the best online bookkeeping classes we reviewed are offered by reputable companies and instructors at a reasonable cost.