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Accounting certificates prepare students for entry-level accounting roles that include managing financial records, analyzing financial operations, and ensuring that clients and employers avoid risks and take advantage of financial opportunities.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 7% growth in accounting professions between 2020 and 2030 as a result of organizations' increasingly complex and globalized financial activities. Accounting certificate-holders can also pursue bookkeeping and tax examiner positions.
Here, we rank the best accounting certificates and provide detailed information about these programs.
Avg. annual net price: $4,702
Application fee: $35
Avg. annual net price: $6,574
Application fee: Free
Pearl City, HI
Avg. annual net price: $7,657
Application fee: $15
Avg. annual net price: $6,965
Application fee: Free
Southeastern Community College
West Burlington, IA
Avg. annual net price: $7,223
Application fee: Free
To ensure our rankings give an accurate picture of the certificate landscape, we pull data from reputable and publicly available sources. The information is then curated by using ZDNet's ranking methodology.
Unless otherwise indicated, data is drawn from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and College Scorecard.
About the program: Northark's 30-credit online accounting certificate trains students in accounting principles, financial mathematics, and computerized accounting.
About the program: KC's 32-credit online accounting certificate provides training in accounting software systems, managerial accounting, and tax accounting.
About the program: Leeward CC's 31-credit online accounting certificate trains students in Quickbooks, business principles, and payroll and general excise taxes.
About the program: YC's 36-credit online accounting certificate trains future accounting assistants in courses that include payroll accounting, intermediate accounting, and basic tax planning.
About the program: SCC's online accounting certificate provides training in financial statements, balance sheets, and income tax analysis.
About the program: Iowa Lakes' 28-credit online accounting certificate trains students in business communications, computer accounting, and cost accounting.
About the program: MWCTC's 16-credit online accounting certificate features training in spreadsheet concepts and principles of accounting.
About the program: SCC's four online accounting certificates feature between 16-18 credits. They provide training in accounting and finance, bookkeeping, taxes, and payroll.
About the program: Harper's 29-credit online accounting certificate includes courses in business software packages, Quickbooks, and introduction to managerial accounting.
About the program: Riverland offers two online accounting certificates for aspiring tax preparers and bookkeepers. Both certificates feature 21 credits in courses like Quickbooks and payroll accounting.
About the program: NTC offers three online accounting certificates, including small business bookkeeping, bookkeeping technology, and Quickbooks. They feature 6-16 credits of courses like math with business applications and accounting fundamentals.
About the program: DMACC offers three online accounting certificates, including accounting, payroll, and accounting for entrepreneurs. The programs require between 12-16 credits and feature courses in accounting cycle, payroll, accounting, and Sage computerized accounting.
About the program: WCC's 17-credit online accounting certificate includes courses in payroll accounting, accounting software applications, and spreadsheets.
About the program: RCC offers six accounting certificates, including two online options in accountant specialist and payroll specialist. These programs feature between 17-18 credits in courses like principles of financial and managerial accounting.
About the program: LSC offers two online accounting certificates, including an assistant and bookkeeper program and a payroll assistant program. The certificates feature between 112-160 contact hours of training in topics like office accounting and Quickbooks.
About the program: WWCC's 35-credit online accounting certificate provides training in interpersonal communications and spreadsheet applications.
About the program: MSC Southeast's 21-credit online accounting certificate prepares students for bookkeeper careers. The training covers courses in financial and payroll accounting.
About the program: HCC offers three online accounting certificates, including accounting, forensic accounting, and payroll specialist credentials. The certificates require between 12-33 credits and include courses in advanced spreadsheets and managerial accounting.
About the program: LCC's 14-credit hour online accounting certificate provides courses in accounting software applications, professional development, and financial accounting.
About the program: Champlain's 16-credit online accounting certificate includes courses in federal taxes, intermediate accounting, and integrated learning through practice.
About the program: OCtech's 27-semester hour online accounting certificate includes training in computerized accounting software, payroll systems, and income tax processes.
About the program: PCC's online accounting certificate features courses in auditing and assurance services, business finance, and statistical analysis.
About the program: Wake Tech offers eight online accounting certificates, including the 14-credit accounting core credential. This program includes courses in business law, financial accounting, and managerial accounting.
About the program: WITCC offers four online accounting certificates, including bookkeeping, cost accounting, payroll clerk, and tax preparer credentials. These programs feature 17-30 credits in courses like basic and advanced spreadsheets, payroll accounting, and taxes.
About the program: CCCC offers three online accounting certificates, including payroll accounting, income tax preparer, and small business financial advisor. The 17-credit payroll accounting certificate features courses in personal finance and individual income taxes.
Bret Hanson holds bachelor's degrees in marketing and accounting from Oregon State University. He serves as the elected President of the Lake Grove Fire District Board of Directors. As a certified fraud examiner, he specializes in turning complex business structures into clarity for lenders. He has worked on lending projects of up to $75 million in categories such as life sciences, technology, and healthcare. As an industry expert in recurring revenue, he often consults on the best practices to account for churn within various industries. Beyond the office, Bret enjoys a full-time nomadic travel lifestyle with his family.
ZDNet: What was the most challenging, rigorous course you took in your accounting program? What advice would you give to students who are about to start this course?
Bret Hanson: Introductory accounting courses were the hardest to complete successfully. In early accounting classes, I didn't have exposure to business operations as a whole to fully grasp concepts with a whole new vocabulary attached. As my education progressed, I continued to reflect on prior accounting classes to assess how much deeper my understanding grew as I learned more about business structures. I would advise young students to fully immerse themselves in these introductory courses and learn how to ask questions on the material.
ZDNet: How did you make the most of your accounting program so that it prepared you for post-grad jobs?
BH: As a student, I focused on how technical elements of accounting would actually be utilized by a company in practice. Theories and equations without real life stories behind them can be hard to retain. Going beyond classroom settings and putting day-to-day job tasks under the lens of an accountant solidified my understanding outside of school and showed me how all the departments within a company are affected by the accounting process.
ZDNet: What were the greatest takeaways from your accounting certificate that helped you to be successful in your career?
BH: Knowing enough about business as a whole to ask the right questions is vital. As an auditor, my job is to take complex company data and simplify the information to be understood by a wide variety of people that are not accountants. Being mindful of how marketing, sales, R&D, and middle management will use the accounting information I present is what guides the information in and presentation of my reports. A great accountant (and auditor) will understand and cater to their audience rather than simply explaining data for other accountants who already understand the raw information.
Online accounting certificates vary by school, level, and focus. These condensed programs can feature entry-level, intermediate, and even graduate-level training from an online accounting master's program. They may include general or foundational courses or provide more specialized education in a subdiscipline.
Online accounting certificates are similar to online accounting degrees, just in smaller, more focused packages. Students may complete individual and group projects, participate in class discussions, and complete practical assignments. While some programs allow students to choose between courses, most have rigid curriculums.
An accounting certificate's difficulty depends on many different factors, but online learners typically need to be self-motivated and committed to their studies. In general, successful accounting students are detail-oriented and have sharp analytical and mathematical skills.
The courses offered in an accounting certificate differ for every program. The training may provide courses in accounting basics or in very specialized topics. The following list examines some of the more popular options available in a certificate program.
In this course, students learn how accounting can impact managerial decisions, pricing, company growth, and performance evaluations. Learners look at ways of managing costs, planning projects, and analyzing profits.
This course explores the entire accounting cycle. Students learn accounting principles, how to prepare financial statements, and how to use financial information for business decisions.
Students in this course learn about a payroll accountant's major duties, including calculating net pay, commissions, and expenses. They may also study labor laws, vacation, and benefits.
In this course, students learn the rules for individual and corporate taxation. They may also learn to use a few of the leading accounting software programs, such as Quickbooks.
The accounting certificates ranked above represent some of the best and most accessible options for study in this field. For students who cannot set aside the time or money for a degree, these accelerated online credentials provide a promising alternative. Accounting certificates can lead to entry-level accounting careers and help experienced business professionals develop new financial skills.