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In Canada, a bookkeeper can set up their business and create a website outlining what they do without any accreditation or designations. There is no regulatory body that ensures bookkeepers are doing what they are expected to do for their clients or that employees are adequately trained in working as bookkeepers for companies. However, while no one needs to take a bookkeeping program or earn certifications to work in the field, many bookkeepers do, and for a wide range of reasons:
– Taking one of Canada’s bookkeeping programs proves you have the basic knowledge required to help your clients with their bookkeeping needs;
– If you are new to the field, obviously taking a Canadian bookkeeping program that leads to accreditation is a huge plus as you will both learn the occupation and become prepared for the certification exam – in some cases, you’ll even take the exam as part of the course as explained below;
– Earning one of the certifications or accreditations available shows that you are a professional and have been recognized at an approved level;
– The majority of accrediting organizations require ongoing education through bookkeeping programs and other courses, so you’ll illustrate your commitment to your occupation through the designation you earn;
– A designation sets you apart from other bookkeepers who don’t have one, making you a more attractive option than someone else looking for a position or pitching a new contract client;
– Each accrediting organization offers its own member benefits such as partner business discounts, events and training sessions;
– You may be able to charge more (or ask for a higher salary) if you have an accreditation;
– For those looking to establish their own business, having a designation will give a much more professional appearance to the business and your abilities.
As you consider the option of becoming an accredited bookkeeper or earning a designation in the field, it’s important to do the research to determine which accreditations will help you most and give you the best return for your money.
Some certifications, like those from QuickBooks or FreshBooks, are specific to the tools a bookkeeper uses. These bookkeeping accreditation programs aren’t about bookkeeping as much as they are about using QuickBooks or FreshBooks for the purpose of bookkeeping. Therefore, if you have clients who only use these tools or work for a business that wants you to know everything about the tools, these may be good options for certification.
Other accreditations are offered through bookkeeping-specific organizations. These include the Canadian Bookkeepers Association (CBA), the Institute of Professional Bookkeepers Canada (IPBC), the Canadian Institute of Bookkeeping (CIB) and others. All are non-profit organizations geared to the advancement of the bookkeeping profession and promoting its benefits while benefitting members. These organizations offer bookkeeping programs internally and through post-secondary institutions while establishing practical experiences for those in the field. Most allow membership without the need to take their courses and/or exams, but the programs may be required in order to obtain certification.
Accreditation allows a bookkeeper to use an organization’s designation, but these vary based upon the organization. CIB refers to those who have earned their designation as a Certified Bookkeeper. CBA uses the term Registered Professional Bookkeeper and IPB goes with Certified Professional Bookkeeper.
There are different ways to approach accreditation for bookkeepers and each approach will depend upon the organization you wish to obtain your designation through. While the majority of accrediting organizations don’t require you to have taken a Canadian bookkeeping program, all require you to take exams in order to earn your designation.
For example, with the Canadian Bookkeepers Association, in order to become a Registered Professional Bookkeeper, you must be a member in good standing with the organization at the intermediate or senior level. You will need to arrange a proctor (someone approved by CBA as able to oversee your writing of the exam) and establish the time for the exam. Once these arrangements are made, you will contact the CBA (information can be found here) to apply for the exam, make payment and ensure the proctor will receive your exam materials prior to the date of the exam writing.
For those who are new to the profession, taking a bookkeeping program is often the first step. Many post-secondary institutions offer certificate in bookkeeping programs like this one https://www.ashtoncollege.ca/programs/bookkeeping-certificate/. Depending upon the school, courses can be quite flexible for those who are currently working and would like a part-time course as well as online options. There are also plenty of full-time bookkeeping programs for those who want to do their program that way.
In some cases, like the course in the above link, taking the bookkeeping program and successfully completing it eliminates the need to take the CBA’s exam to become a Registered Professional Bookkeeper as you will have already completed the exam and the education required through the course. Thus, if eliminating the exam that would be booked through the CBA is important to you and you need a bookkeeping program to enhance your knowledge and skills, this can be the best way to go. All that needs to be done once the program is successfully completed is signing up for a membership with the CBA.
As a member, you agree to adhere to the organization’s code of ethics and can share this code with clients or your employer to show the standards you will follow. You’ll also be part of a members-only discussion forum where you can ask questions and interact with others in the field and will be listed in the members’ directory.
Becoming an accredited bookkeeper in Canada definitely has a number of benefits whether you are an employee of an organization or run your own bookkeeping business with clients you work for. Take the time to determine the best certification and accreditation options for you, then look at how the process works. Many organizations offer alternative methods to earning their designation, such as the CBA’s accreditation through post-secondary school programs. You’ll want to find the right designation and bookkeeping program to meet your needs now and in the future.