Bookkeeping is the most basic of accounting skills and is often referred to as “managing the books.” By recording the financial transactions of an organization, or even an individual, it’s possible to create reports that can then be analyzed through additional accounting skills.
Because important financial decisions are often made based on the analyses of bookkeeping reports, understanding how to accurately record transactions using the most current industry standards is just as important.
Whether you are a complete beginner to managing your personal and business transactions or you are interested in starting your own bookkeeping business, besides needing some solid math skills, there are courses available to help you reach your bookkeeping goals. We’ve found the top 10 best online bookkeeping courses that offer a working knowledge of bookkeeping and accounting practices.
1. Accounting Analysis I: The Role of Accounting as an Information System (Coursera)
This first course in the Financial Reporting specialization on Coursera is designed to give you basic knowledge of various methods of financial reporting. Continuing with the remaining courses in the specialization offers additional skills such as analysis of these reports. However, if you decide to take only this course, there is still a lot of valuable information that can be applied to the work you are doing right now. The suggested amount of time to complete the course is just 8 weeks although the deadlines are flexible to work around your schedule.
You’ll need to have some foundational knowledge of accounting before taking this intermediate course. However, you can learn these skills and show your readiness for this course by taking those bookkeeping fundamentals courses on Coursera as well. If you are looking to expand on your accounting work experience or education, you can’t go wrong with an online accounting course from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign offered through Coursera. This university is consistently ranked in the top three for all accounting programs in the US.
2. Bookkeeping Basics #1: Understanding the Fundamentals (Udemy)
If you’re interested in the intermediate course above but don’t have the necessary fundamental skills (yet!), this Udemy course can provide them. Designed for the bookkeeping beginner, you’ll learn about what transactions to track and how to track them. Financial reporting using the correct terminology for the industry is covered in addition to the core concepts behind any accounting transaction.
As one of the most highly rated bookkeeping courses on Udemy, Bookkeeping Basics #1 is just the beginning of your journey in accounting. You can continue in the series with Bookkeeping Basics #2: Understand the Mechanics as well as Bookkeeping Basics #3: QuickBooks Fundamentals. The first course in this series offers 50+ downloadable resources as well as lifetime access. Your instructor, Ron Trucks, provides guides on what to avoid and tips to becoming a better bookkeeper.
3. Learn How to Start a Bookkeeping Business (Udemy)
While you may need to learn the basics of bookkeeping to take on a new role at work or perhaps to manage your own business’ finances, it’s also possible to run your own bookkeeping firm. While knowledge of bookkeeping best practices is important, it’s also important that you understand how to run a financial business from home. Plus, you can very easily learn the bookkeeping skills you need through any or all of the courses on this list!
Brett Philips, your instructor, is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) who guides you through the steps needed to establish your bookkeeping firm. He also provides you with invaluable templates, checklists, and other resources. Before you set out on your own, you will feel comfortable meeting with your first client to walk through their onboarding process and begin their bookkeeping services. Udemy provides lifetime access to the course so if you find yourself stuck on your way to a financially rewarding career, or side hustle, you can always return for a refresher.
4. Introduction to Bookkeeping (EdX)
Through the popular EdX learning platform, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) offers an introductory course to bookkeeping., This course is designed to prepare you for the Recording Financial Transactions exam offered by ACCA. Through this Introduction to Bookkeeping, you will learn more about basic business transactions as well as double-entry bookkeeping practices. An overview of the banking system helps set you up for more in-depth concepts such as managing ledger accounts and payroll, reconciling accounts, and more.
While this course doesn’t include an EdX certificate of completion, you will receive one after passing the Recording Financial Transactions exam through ACCA. You can take another free online course offered through ACCA that will prepare you for the Management Information exam, “Introduction to Management Accounting.” Successfully pass these two exams and add in another free online prep module for “Foundations in Professionalism” and you will have earned the ACCA Certificate in Financial and Management Accounting. This might seem like a lot of work, but this certificate is highly regarded in the business and financial industries and you can learn all the necessary skills for free.
5. Introduction to Bookkeeping and Accounting (Open Learn)
Understanding the very basic principles that guide all accounting and bookkeeping transactions is essential to any career in finance. It can also help you succeed in many different roles in business. For example, as the head of a department, you may need to know how to read a profit/loss statement to better understand how your department is succeeding or failing financially. With this short course, you will learn the numerical side of bookkeeping to be able to produce a balance sheet and a profit/loss statement.
You can read, watch, and learn from the lectures and resources available online for free without signing up for an account at Open Learn. Signing up has many advantages, however, including the ability to track your progress through the course and participate in the activities and quizzes. These activities help you to understand the concepts being taught as well as let you know which concepts you may need to study a bit more. After completing the course through your free account, you will also receive a Statement of Participation.
6. Accounting Foundations (LinkedIn Learning)
Learning the most basic concepts of accounting is vital to continuing your education in bookkeeping. This foundation course offered through LinkedIn Learning provides the basic knowledge you need when intending to take more advanced accounting courses. Over 34,000 students have completed this course through online access, mobile apps, as well as offline access to the 41 downloadable lectures. These lectures are short and cover only one concept each so it’s easy to understand and apply each new skill immediately.
LinkedIn Learning is a platform that provides access to over 15,000 courses ranging from beginning foundations courses to advanced prep courses for certification exams. Each course includes a Certificate of Completion that can easily be added to your LinkedIn profile to show off your new skills. The subscription service offers a one-month free trial so you can explore the platform, or you can purchase each course individually. Course access can also be purchased by organizations for multiple learners at a discount.
7. Accounting Specialization (Learn@Forbes)
Sometimes a single course in bookkeeping isn’t enough to get you up and running with your own accounting business or get you into a financial role at an established company. You can always start with a beginning course and add on the courses you feel you need to succeed in the career you’re after, but you can also sign up for an entire specialization. The Accounting Specialization at Learn@Forbes is a series of 8 courses covering everything from financial statements to accounting theory. In just 14 course hours, you’ll have all the knowledge you need to feel confident in your bookkeeping abilities.
Learn@Forbes offers over 500 courses covering many business topics, technology, and personal development as well as others. In addition to your specialization in accounting, you can participate in specializations and pathways that have been put together by leading experts in their respective fields to offer you complete understanding. After completing all course activities, you can easily add your Forbes Accounting Specialization Certificate to your LinkedIn profile.
8. Diploma in Quickbooks Pro 2017 (Alison)
QuickBooks is one of the most popular software options for financial professionals, small business owners, entrepreneurs, and more. This makes knowing how to use QuickBooks Pro 2017 a valuable skill in today’s job market and for those who own or manage a small- to medium-sized business. This Level 1 course will show you step-by-step how to create invoices and record their payments, enter and pay your bills, reconcile your financial accounts, and even back up your data.
Alison’s free online learning platform is home to over 13 million learners. With courses offered for nearly every industry, including business and technology, you can add new skills to your repertoire without spending a dime. Earn your Certificate of Completion for this course and many others to add them to your resume and LinkedIn profile. Set yourself up for success with a working knowledge of QuickBooks Pro 2017 in just 6 to 10 hours of study.
9. Introduction to Financial and Managerial Accounting (MIT Open Courseware)
Do you need to read and analyze financial reports more than you need to prepare them? Understanding what goes into preparing them is important but it’s what you do with the information provided in these reports that can make a difference in your own business or the one for which you work. An entire undergraduate course, the Introduction to Financial and Managerial Accounting provides all lecture notes as well as the assignments and exams that were given to the students who took this class at MIT in 2004. All assignments and exams come complete with both the problems and their solutions. You can download all of the course materials to study offline.
MIT Open Courseware is the product of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Their goal is to make all the courses offered to their students also available free of charge to online learners. Over 2,400 courses are currently available and as of 2019, over 300 million people have visited the site. Powered mostly by donations, these free courses run from undergraduate prerequisite courses to those for Masters and Doctoral students.
10. Bookkeeping and Business Accounting (FutureLearn)
If you need a bit of help managing your personal finances as well as those for business, this Bookkeeping and Business Accounting course from FutureLearn is ideal. For sole proprietors whose personal and business income and expenses are tied closely, this course can teach you how best to manage both. Understand the concepts of profit and loss as well as how they relate to revenue and debt through common terminology, mathematics, and critical thinking skills. This learner-supported course allows you to follow the materials and then turn to other students in the course for their insight and perspective.
FutureLearn allows access to many courses for free through their online platform. By upgrading your course, you can access additional benefits such as access to the course for as long as it’s available on the platform as well as print and digital Certificate of Achievements. FutureLearn offers a one-year unlimited membership for those students interested in more intensive learning through many short courses. Looking to learn through an accredited program or even a degree? FutureLearn offers those as well.
It’s time to take the bookkeeping of your personal finances, small- to medium-sized business or the larger company you work for seriously. The first step is choosing the best online bookkeeping course that will not only set you up for success in the course but also in your personal life and career.