Programs prepare students for bookkeeping jobs

Despite the sluggish economy, the job market for bookkeepers, accounting clerks and auditing clerks is expected to grow by 14 percent through 2020. The projected growth of new businesses and stricter financial regulations is spurring demand, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“There will always be a demand for accounting,” said Susan Wright, accounting instructor at Georgia Piedmont Technical College. “In every company, someone must account for the funds, balance the books and pay the taxes.”

Georgia Piedmont offers students an entry into the accounting field with three technical certificates of credit: computerized accounting specialist (six courses), office accounting specialist (four courses) and payroll accounting specialist (five courses).

“These certificates will give someone entry-level skills for a bookkeeping or accounting career, and also provide professional development for office workers who have been given new financial responsibilities and need to learn accounting fundamentals,” Wright said. “It never hurts to add new skills.”

Those who earn the certificates can further increase their skills and earning potential by enrolling in a diploma or associate degree program in accounting. Tuition, which is now $75 per credit hour, will increase to $85 an hour for the spring 2013 semester. For information, go to www.gptc.edu or call 404-297-9522.

The College of Continuing and Professional Education at Kennesaw State University also offers a new bookkeeper professional certificate program that includes 90 hours of instruction in a computer lab. The next session, which starts on Feb. 5, will meet on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. The cost is $1,499, plus books.

“We developed this program because companies told us that they needed people with bookkeeping skills,” said Ann Vancza, director of professional programs at the college. “This would help people get into the accounting field, and [would] also be good for anyone starting or operating a business, because they’ll learn accounting principles and QuickBooks.”

“The certificate is career-focused,” said Eric Carlson, an instructor and owner of Tactical Finance, a bookkeeping firm in Sandy Springs. “Students will leave here able to convince future employers in an interview that they know what they’re doing.”

Most accountants aren’t interested in bookkeeping, and often work in auditing or tax preparation, Carlson said. But small to medium-sized businesses need bookkeepers to automate and analyze financial data.  Many bookkeepers work part time or from home, managing company books over the Internet.

“Learning basic bookkeeping skills can offer someone an additional stream of revenue or help him move up in his company, since a good bookkeeper is often promoted to office manager,” Carlson said.

Students in the program will learn the language of accounting and become comfortable with ledgers, assets, liabilities, equity accounts, balance sheets and income statements.

“They will learn the software, QuickBooks, which is used by the vast majority of small and midsized businesses,” Carlson said. “The third thing they will learn is a basic understanding of the financial process and how it applies in business.”

Students also get the theory, practical computer skills and the benefit of real-world applications from an instructor who works in the field.

For information, go to http://CCPE.Kennesaw.edu or call 770-423-6765.

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