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By: Ronda PaynePublished On: February 4, 2020
In Canada, a bookkeeper or accountant 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. While no one needs to take a bookkeeping program or earn certifications to work in the field, many bookkeepers do for a variety of reasons:
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 do not require you to have taken a Canadian bookkeeping or accounting program, all of them do 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 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 or accounting program is often the first step. Many post-secondary institutions offer a certificate in bookkeeping program. Depending upon the school, accounting 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 and there are additional continuing education options.
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.