Accounting Certification Exams, Requirements & Salaries – Forbes Advisor


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If you’re looking to gain a competitive edge in the accounting world, look no further than an accounting certification. Qualified accountants provide a valuable service to organizations large and small by keeping meticulous records of all financial transactions.

An accounting certification not only adds value to your skills, but also helps you stay up-to-date with the latest trends and technological advancements in the industry. Read on to find out what you need to know to become a chartered accountant.

Bookkeeping certifications: CB vs. CPB

An accountant certification tells employers that you have all the skills and expertise required for advanced accounting.

There are two main accrediting bodies for accountants. The first is the American Institute of Professional Accountants (AIPB)and the second is the National Association of Public Accountants (NACPB). Both offer similar benefits when it comes to membership, resources, and renewable credentials. While there are other accounting credentials, those offered by the AIPB and NACPB are the most renowned and respected.

The main difference between the AIPB certification and the NACPB license is the resulting credential. Those who are accredited by the AIPB obtain the title of Certified Accountant (CB). Those who obtain a license through the NACPB earn the Certified Public Accountant (CPB) designation.

You do not need a formal education to complete the AIPB certification process.
However, the NACPB recommends a bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance, or a related industry to earn the CPB license.

In terms of hiring potential, there is little difference between the two titles. Both are nationally recognized and well regarded by accounting professionals.

How long does a chartered accountant certification take?

Before obtaining either designation, you must demonstrate that you have sufficient bookkeeping experience.


To qualify for the CPB license, you must accumulate 2,000 hours or one year of experience in the field.

The CPB license lasts for one year, after which you must demonstrate that you have obtained all necessary continuing education credits and pay an annual fee. CPB degrees require 24 hours of continuing education per year of licensing.


Requirements for CB certification are more extensive, as they require at least 3,000 hours of experience or two years of experience in bookkeeping or accounting.

To maintain the CB credential, you must earn 60 continuing education credits every three years.

How much does an accounting certification cost?

Another difference to note between CBP and CB credentials is the cost. You must pay for each part of the required exam, as well as for any preparation courses you may take. As noted above, the NACPB and AIPB also require annual dues to keep membership credentials current.

To qualify for discounted rates, consider becoming a member of the organization of your choice before registering for courses and exams.

Cost of CPB Certification in Bookkeeping

The cost to become a CPB includes four courses and their respective exams. If you buy these materials in bulk, they cost $1,276 in total.

You must also pay a $100 application fee. Annual renewal applications cost $25 for NACPB members and $50 for non-members. Membership also gives you access to resources that can help you prepare to become a CPB.

Cost of CB accounting certification

To become a CB, the AIPB charges a registration fee of $25 for members and $60 for non-members. The organization also offers one-, two-, and three-year subscriptions at discounted prices.

For preparatory courses and workbooks, the AIPB charges $254 for members and $324 for members. The first two parts of the AIPB four-part test cost $100 each. The last two parts of the exam are free and included in the workbooks.

How to Become a Chartered Accountant

The first step to becoming a CB or CPB is to make the decision to do so. Obtaining your degree will take time, effort and patience, but the career benefits you will experience will be worth it.

Once you have decided to pursue one of these professional titles, you should take the following steps.

Meet all program requirements

The first step to becoming a certified accountant is to ensure that you have met all professional and educational requirements. Whether you seek credentials through the AIPB or NACPB, your supervisor or a former employer must validate your hours of experience.

The AIPB also asks potential CBs to sign the Code of Ethics for Chartered Accountants. NACPB requires agreement to comply with the CPB Code of Business Conduct. Both codes of conduct are part of an application form that you will need to submit.

Register for a program

Before going directly to either exam, you must first complete a series of courses. Prior experience in accounting does not exempt from these preparatory courses. Taking courses and workbooks can help you prepare for and pass your accounting exam.

AIPB CB course

The AIPB offers a series of six self-paced courses and accompanying workbooks, all of which are part of the AIPB CB Preparatory Course. You can purchase each course separately or together as a package. The AIPB also offers additional courses for sale, such as Master of Double Entry Bookkeeping. However, these courses are not required knowledge for the CB exam.

NACPB CPB course

The NACPB requires you to complete four accounting certifications to obtain the CPB license. These include certifications in bookkeeping, payroll, QuickBooks, and bookkeeping. Each is accompanied by a self-study course lasting 11 to 13 weeks. A certification includes a pre-assessment test, the course itself, a post-assessment test and a certification exam.

Note that the NACPB’s accounting certification is different from its CPB license.

Pass the accreditation exams

Once you’ve met all the requirements for your chosen degree and completed your preparatory courses, it’s time to take the exams.

CB exam

The CB exam consists of four parts. You must complete the first two in person. You can take the third and fourth parts home. The four parts of the AIPB Accounting Certification Exam include:

  • Settings and error correction
  • Payroll and amortization
  • Inventory and internal controls
  • Fraud Prevention

You can use notes and your workbook for the last two parts of the exam, but not for the first two parts.

Register to take the first part of the exam at a Prometric testing center near you. Be sure to bring proper identification and all required materials on the day of the exam. After completing the first part of the CB exam, repeat this process to pass the second part.

If you want to retake any of the first parts of the CB exam, the fee is $60. There is no resit fee for the home portion of the exam.

CPB exam

NACPB administers all of its exams online. Register via the online test center to schedule your exam. You will receive instructions via email on how best to prepare and set up your test environment at home, at a local library, or another location with an Internet connection.

You must pass the accounting, payroll, QuickBooks, and accounting certification exams before you are eligible for CPB certification. If you do not pass any of the certification exams, you can retake it for a fee of $50 for NACPB members and $75 for non-members.

Accounting Certification Potential Salary

If you’re wondering if you want to get a CB certification or a CPB license, keep in mind that a professional designation can help boost your earning potential. According to salary scale, certified accountants earn about $52,000 a year. Accountants generally earn closer to $45,000.

Additionally, the CB and CPB designations are respected in the accounting field and can help you stand out to employers.


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