Why Penn Foster?

  • Accredited
  • Self-Paced
  • Supportive
  • Low monthly payments

Program Overview

You can begin your career in bookkeeping in as little as three months, and our program costs 83% less than the average traditional school. This in-demand field is expected to grow 11% and create over 200,000 new positions by 2022.* With Penn Foster you can train for a bookkeeping career at home and at a pace that’s right for you.

You’ll receive hands-on training in a number of areas, from assets and liabilities to revenue and expenses. You’ll even have the opportunity to complete a final bookkeeping project involving a sole proprietorship. Our expert faculty members will help you succeed, like instructor Jim Burcicki, who has extensive experience as a professional bookkeeper.

Curriculum Details

Unit 1

Starting Your Program

Succeed by learning how to use your Penn Foster program.

Objectives:

  • Understand how to use your Student Portal, including your My Homepage and My Courses pages.
  • Access the Penn Foster Community and use it to find answers.
  • Connect with Penn Foster on various social media sites.
The Accounting Equation

This lesson will allow you to take the first step toward becoming a bookkeeper by learning the basic accounting equation.

Objectives:

  • Identify the initial steps in the accounting equation.
  • Explain the purpose and components of a balance sheet.
  • Explain and apply the accounting equation.
  • Prepare a balance sheet.
  • Define the terms assets, liabilities, and owner’s equity, and explain how they apply to accounting.
Additional Unit Materials

Supplement: A Glossary of Accounting Terms

Unit 2

The Books of Accounting

This lesson will provide you with the information you need to work with balance sheets, the general journal, and the general ledger.

Objectives:

  • Explain the journal’s function in accounting.
  • Identify the components of the journal.
  • Record the opening entry in a journal.
  • Identify the components of a ledger.
  • Explain and use the steps for posting an entry.
  • Post items in the ledger from the journal.
Assets, Liabilities, and Owner's Equity

In this lesson, you’ll focus on the balance sheet classifications of assets, liabilities, and owner’s equity. You’ll learn how to use the double-entry bookkeeping system and the proper way to debit and credit accounts.

Objectives:

  • Prepare a chart of accounts.
  • Identify asset, liability, and owner’s equity accounts.
  • Analyze and prepare journal entries.
  • Post entries from the journal to the general ledger.
Additional Unit Materials

Workbook One

Learning Aids:

  • Account Analyzer
  • How to Use Your Account Analyzer

Unit 3

Revenue, Expenses, and Trial Balance

This lesson examines the activities that affect owner’s equity accounts and how such accounts react.

Objectives:

  • Debit and credit revenue accounts and expense accounts based on their relation to the owner’s equity section of the accounting equation.
  • Analyze, organize, and post transactions by determining what accounts are involved, classifying them into asset, liability, revenue, or expense accounts, and then determining how the transactions affect the accounts used.
  • Explain the purpose of a trial balance and prepare a trial balance.
Financial Reports

This lesson focuses on the income statement, balance sheet, and activities that take place at the end of an accounting year.

Objectives:

  • Prepare a worksheet.
  • Prepare an income statement.
  • Prepare a closing balance sheet and compare it with an opening balance sheet to determine the period’s changes.
  • Distinguish between temporary and permanent accounts and explain the roles they play in the accounting cycle.
  • Close the accounting records to summarize the activities of the period.
Additional Unit Materials

Workbooks Two and Three

Unit 4

Accounting for Cash and Payroll Accounting

This lesson details the importance of cash management and how to carefully document cash transactions. You’ll also learn about payroll accounting, different types of deposits, proper check writing, and how to reconcile a bank statement with the checking account.

Objectives:

  • Prepare and balance cash receipts journals and cash disbursements journals.
  • Open a business checking account.
  • Deposit to and withdraw from the business checking account.
  • Reconcile all cash and checking account activities.
  • Compute and prepare employer-withheld payroll taxes.
Accounting Systems

This lesson will enhance your knowledge of accounting systems. You’ll learn about accrual accounting and how it differs from accounting for cash. You’ll also discover the critical role that an accurate inventory system plays in a business’s success or failure and the two major systems used with inventory.

Objectives:

  • Calculate accrued interest and record adjustments for interest revenue.
  • Apply and compare the three methods for determining the value of the merchandise in inventory.
  • Enter transactions in the cash receipts journal, and post entries to the general ledger.
  • Discuss accrual accounting.
  • Define inventory accounting, and discuss the two major inventory systems.
  • Determine the cost of merchandise percentage, estimated cost of ending inventory, total monthly sales, estimated gross profit, cost of sales, and estimated end-of-month inventory balance.
Wholesale Accounting

This lesson will allow you to apply what you know about ledgers and accounts to the wholesale industry. You’ll discover some new items that are more strictly related to the wholesale industry—like cash discounts, trade discounts, and sales allowances. You’ll also take a look at promissory notes.

Objectives:

  • Compute the balance on sales invoices.
  • Enter purchase invoice transactions in the purchase invoice register and the accounts payable ledger.
  • Compute the interest on notes payable.
  • Enter sales invoice transactions in the sales register and the accounts receivable ledger.
  • Compute the balance on purchase invoices.
Additional Unit Materials

Workbooks Four, Five and Six

Supplement:

  • How to Read an Income Statement and a Balance Sheet

Unit 5

Assets and End-of-the-Month Activities

This lesson will provide a more in-depth look at a company’s assets. You’ll discover the accounting activities that occur at the end of the month, and you’ll learn the necessary procedures that bookkeepers and accountants carry out at the end of the fiscal year.

Objectives:

  • Manage all assets in the accounting process through valuation, amortization, depreciation, asset retirement, and adjusting book value.
  • Calculate end-of-the-month adjustments and enter them in the ledgers.
  • Complete end-of-the-month accounting procedures such as balance the journals, post the amounts to the ledgers, and balance the ledgers.
  • Prepare end-of-the-month accounting reports such as the worksheet, the income statement, the balance sheet, and schedules.
  • Prepare a year-end worksheet and determine the necessary adjustments.
  • Prepare a year-end income statement, balance sheet, and a post-closing trial balance.
Introduction to Windows®

This lesson will increase your knowledge of computer operating systems such as Windows® XP, Windows Vista,® and Windows® 7.

Objectives:

  • Apply the basic functions of the most commonly used Windows® commands.
  • Identify the procedures to start software programs and shut down the computer at the end of your work session.
  • Customize your computer to suit your individual needs.
  • Use the Windows® Help and Systems Tools feature to solve computer problems.
Additional Unit Materials
Workbook Seven

Unit 6

Microsoft® Excel®

This lesson focuses on the most widely used spreadsheet program, Microsoft® Excel.® You’ll learn how to perform numerical calculations, create charts, organize lists, access data, create graphics and diagrams, and automate tasks in Excel.®

Objectives:

  • Use the basic elements of Excel.®
  • Create and use simple and complex formulas and functions.
  • Incorporate useful charts and graphs.
  • Add, delete, sort, and layout table data.
Graded Project

Microsoft® Excel®

Unit 7

Bookkeeping Project

This project will allow you to put the knowledge and skills you’ve gained throughout the program to practical use. In this project, you’ll maintain the accounting records and prepare financial statements for a sole proprietorship. Although the basic procedures will remain the same, you may be required to adapt the skills you’ve obtained to suit the specific needs of your employer’s specialized business. The project includes ledgers, business papers and checks, journals, and the narrative of transactions. The project must be completed manually.

Additional Unit Materials

Supplements:

  • General Ledger
  • Subsidiary Ledgers
  • Journals
  • Documents and Forms

Computer Specifications
You will need high-speed internet access to begin your program. You will need access to a Microsoft® Windows® based computer running Windows® 7 or later or an Apple® Mac® computer running OS X® or later, Microsoft® Office 2013, and an email account to complete your program with Penn Foster.

We reserve the right to change program content and materials when it becomes necessary.
Microsoft, Windows, and Windows XP are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.
Apple, Mac, and OS X are trademarks of Apple, Inc registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.

Sample Lesson

To view a Bookkeeping sample lesson, click here.

Bookkeeping Course Details

Penn Foster will help you gain the knowledge and skills you need:

  • Balance sheets, income statements, and cash and payroll accounting
  • Basics of the general journal and ledger
  • Assets, liabilities, and owner’s equity
  • Revenue, expenses, and trial balance

* Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, "Occupational Outlook Handbook," 2014-15 Edition, Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks, on the Internet here (visited February 5, 2014).

As a bookkeeper, you can work for accounting firms, schools, hospitals, banks, and government agencies. Bookkeepers can have jobs as payroll or budget clerks, billing clerks, accounts receivable or accounts payable clerks, or for a sole proprietorship. Here are a few qualities that expert bookkeepers have in common:

  • Detail oriented: It’s important to have a sharp eye and check things twice.
  • Analytical: You enjoy crunching numbers and critically thinking to solve a problem.
  • Independent: You make decisions and finish work on your own.

If you want the best learning experience possible, choose Penn Foster. I'd recommend this program to anyone. If you're already signed up, CONGRATULATIONS! You won't regret it. The Bookkeeping Program is the best investment for my future. It far exceeded my expectations.

- Michel K., Bookkeeping Graduate

My overall experience with Penn Foster was great. You are allowed to go at your own speed, and the school gives encouragement to keep you going. I would recommend Penn Foster.

- James R., Penn Foster Graduate

I am so happy that I made a career change with the help of Penn Foster. Penn Foster makes it easy, and they are always supportive and encouraging to you. Whenever I had a question, I just gave my instructors a call, and they were very helpful and easy to talk with. The online testing made it convenient, and my shipments always arrived right on time.

- Christina R., Penn Foster Graduate

We make sure you have everything you need:

  • Graduate debt free with 0% interest
  • Books and learning aids included
  • Study Planner App to customize your study plans and keep track of your progress
  • Instructional support from our world-class faculty
  • Access 24/7 to Penn Foster’s online campus, plus immediate membership in the Bookkeeping academic group
  • Your personalized online student homepage and learning portal
  • Additional resources such as our online library and career guidance from Career Cruising

How can the Bookkeeping Career Diploma program help me to excel in the workforce?

The Bookkeeping Career Diploma Program will teach students how to maintain business financial records. Students can use these skills to obtain jobs as payroll, budget, accounts receivable, or billing clerks at accounting firms, hospitals, banks, and government agencies. Small business owners and managers can also benefit from this program.

Does the Bookkeeping program teach double-entry bookkeeping?

Yes, the program teaches double entry bookkeeping. All bookkeeping is done completely by hand (without the use of a computer).

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