Learn How To Become A Certified Bookkeeping Professional.

Bookkeeping Certification

How To Get Certified
In Canada and the United States

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by L. Kenway BComm CPB Retired

Published November 2012, Updated June 6, 2024

Canadian Bookkeeper Certification Programs | CPB Canada CPB | CBA RPB | APATC | U.S. Bookkeeper Certification Programs | Universal Accounting PB | AIPB CB | NACPB CPB 

MORE >>  Bookkeeping Courses

In this chat, I put together some information for both Canadian and US bookkeeping certification training.

The bookkeeping industry in Canada is not regulated at this time. I believe this is also the case in the States.

Therefore, I have gathered the following information about programs that help to professionalize and increase the quality of bookkeeping in Canada and the U.S.A..

While many colleges throughout Canada have bookkeeping diploma programs ... some of which have online bookkeeping course offerings ... I will not be discussing them here. You can find information about Canadian bookkeeper training and online bookkeeping courses by clicking here.

Canadian Bookkeeping Certification Programs

In Canada, once you have completed your online bookkeeping courses ... OR have a few years supervised bookkeeping experience, there are two different associations that offer general bookkeeping certification ... the CPB Canada and CBA.

Remember before joining an association, due your due diligence. Find a "best fit" and make your decision on more than just the cost to join.

CPB Canada LogoCertified Professional Bookkeepers of Canada

CPB Canada (formerly The Institute of Professional Bookkeepers) has an exam you can write that, if passed, results in the Certified Professional Bookkeeper (CPB) designation.

CPB Canada provides the environment, knowledge, and resources its members need to develop excellence in bookkeeping, through education, networking, advocacy, information and research. The focus is to create member value and benefits that in turn contribute to creating a stronger trust relationship with Canadian business.

There are three tracks within the certification program:

  • Apprentice - requires 1 year experience, references, passing an exam on basic bookkeeping competencies, and 5 continuing professional development credits a year
  • Technician - requires 2 year experience, references, passing an exam on intermediate bookkeeping competencies, and 10 continuing professional development credits a year
  • Certified - requires 3 year experience, references, passing an exam on advanced bookkeeping competencies, and 20 continuing professional development credits a year

Since 2022, CPB Canada offers as an academic program partnered with Canadian Community Colleges. This was accomplished by purchasing the assets of the Canadian Institute of Bookkeeping (CIB). The diplomas result in achieving a non-certified technical or apprentice level status within CPB Canada.

More >> CPB Canada Educational Partners

CPB Canada also provides ongoing professional development in the form of one hour webinars.They are held regularly to help bookkeepers develop their knowledge and stay current in their field. The webinars are included in your membership. Non-members can also attend for a fee.

The Institute also publishes a quarterly magazine Numbers & Sense. You can subscribe to it for free.

More >> CPB Canada Numbers & Sense Magazine Access 

The IPBC was founded in 2007 making it the youngest bookkeeping organization in Canada. It rebranded as CPB Canada in June 2020. To my knowledge, it is currently the largest bookkeeping organization in Canada. I enjoyed the benefits of membership to this association from 2009 to 2020 when I retired. 

Their office was initially located in British Columbia (B.C.) but now resides in Ontario. (See disclosure note below.)

Disclosure: During 2011, I worked as a part-time employee for IPBC in Member Services. It gave me the opportunity to talk to bookkeepers all across Canada and assist in the transition to a new data base and web site platform.

Canadian Bookkeepers Association bookkeeping certification results in a RPB designation

Canadian Bookkeepers Association (CBA)  has an exam you can write to obtain your Registered Professional Bookkeeper (RPB) designation.

At the time of this update (June 2024) it's not clear to me whether the CBA is still operational at this time. Their online membership directory has 25 members, so please be careful when on their website! If they are still operational, I believe the CBA office is located in Ontario.

The CBA is a national not-for-profit organization that was founded in 2003 and is committed to the advancement of bookkeeping professionals in Canada and to furthering the Canadian bookkeeping industry as a whole.

Membership in the CBA entitles the bookkeeping professional access to a knowledgeable and diverse group of colleagues through their Members Only Discussion Forum; discounts & benefits from different companies affiliated with the CBA; and the ability to be a part of history as they venture toward government approved industry recognition.

I believe the IPBC accepted the RPB designation. I was a Senior Member of this organization from 2009 to 2012. I left due to internal struggles within the organization.

Association of Tax & Accounting Professionals

ATAP The Association of Tax & Accounting Professionals (formerly APATC) has rebranded.

Since rebranding, I could no longer find any mention of bookkeeping practitioners, just tax and accounting and professionals. I also couldn't determine anymore what the membership qualifications are.

Their head office is located in Ontario.

Good To Know

If you have a public bookkeeping practice in Canada, Intuit QuickBooks has a ProAdvisor Program. It is free. Currently, QuickBook Online is my preferred SaaS platform.

In addition, the ProAdvisor program  offers free training to all ProAdvisors for the desktop versions and cloud applications. It does help to have some prior bookkeeping knowledge.

Sage Simply Accounting has an Accountants Network as does Xero.

U.S. Bookkeeping Certification Programs

An American company, Universal Accounting has a bookkeeping certification program that leads to the Professional Bookkeeper (PB) designation. It specializes in small business accounting.

When I first wrote this back in 2009, this program was not an online bookkeeping course ... from what I could tell ... you were mailed binders for each module that contains CDs and written notes / lessons.

However now, when you go to their website they online courses ... which is excellent.

Two things stopped me from taking this program ... the fact that, at the time of the initial writing, it was U.S. oriented with regards payroll and taxes ... it did not appear to be tailored to a Canadian bookkeeper ... and its cost. I love the fact that you start out doing the books manually ... no computer software!

Having said that, I have been told that they do have a Canadian version of their course now but it isn't evident from visiting their website. It would be best to inquire.

If I was just starting out with my education, the cost would not be a deterrent ... but because I have already invested thousands of dollars for my education ... I just can't convince myself it would be worth the investment ... yet.

If I was just starting out, this program would be my choice especially if they have Canadian content for Canadian bookkeepers.

The American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB) has a Certified Bookkeeper (CB) designation. Check out their website for the bookkeeping courses they offer to achieve bookkeeping certification. Prior to 2014, none of their offerings were online bookkeeping courses. A package was mailed to you so you could work from home on your own schedule.

Finally in 2014 the AIPB entered the technological age and began offering their course material as e-books as well as soft book cover. They now also offer online courses. See bookstore.aipb.org for more information.

GAAP for small privately owned businesses is very similar between Canada and the U.S.. I found the AIPB self-study courses were useful training and provided me with excellent reference guides going forward. The best part about AIPB training is they are AFFORDABLE. Book courses are priced in the $29 to $69 USD range; online courses range between $175 and $495. Pricing is usually $10-$20 less if you are an AIPB member.

I did purchase many of their self-study courses. They were well structured. Each course included quizzes after each chapter and a final exam, that at that time, you mailed in to be marked.

The National Association of Certified Professional Bookkeepers (NACPB) has a Certified Public Bookkeeper (CPB) designation. As a member, you have access to their Accounting Fundamentals course. The course is a thirteen-week course (one session per week). It is an on-demand, self-study, self-paced course. (I think the CPB Canada would accept this training as part of your required CPD credits but you would have to check.)

This association used to be for bookkeepers providing public bookkeeping services. If you wanted to learn about bookkeeping or get/have a bookkeeping job, then this association was not for you. Their sister organization, National Bookkeepers Association (NBA) was what you wanted.

However, NBA doesn't seem to exist anymore and they seem to have updated their training, so perhaps it is now for both employed and public practice bookkeepers.

Certified Public Bookkeeper (CPB) designation


While I provide the above as information for you about bookkeeping certification, I am not selecting my preferences. There are more organizations out there. These are just the ones that interest me ... I am even a member of a few of them.

Before you join any organization, be sure you do your own due diligence to make sure it has a good reputation. Satisfy yourself that it is a good fit for you, will meet your needs, and matches your ethics.

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It's been great chatting with you.

Your Tutor

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  • Where to find online bookkeeping courses and bookkeeping training ... just the bookkeeping basics for the home-based small business doing their own books ... and bookkeepers wanting certification.

    Where To Find Online Bookkeeping Courses

    Where to find online bookkeeping courses and bookkeeping training ... just the bookkeeping basics for the home-based small business doing their own books ... and bookkeepers wanting certification.


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