Across the globe there’s a growing movement to enhance the stature of the bookkeeping profession, with numerous countries, including Canada, establishing robust organizations that mandate certification for their members. 

This trend underscores the profession’s increasing importance and the global push towards standardization and recognition of bookkeeping skills.

In this article I talk about how to become a Certified Professional Bookkeeper (CPB) in Canada and the many benefits of doing so.

Obtaining my own CPB designation back in 2010 was a pivotal moment in my career.

Beyond the invaluable experience gained over the years, this certification has been instrumental in elevating my practice. 

It not only enhanced my credibility but also significantly expanded my professional capabilities.

This achievement has allowed me to provide top-notch service to my clients, fostering a deeper trust and more meaningful professional relationships.

What is a Certified Professional Bookkeeper in Canada?

The Certified Professional Bookkeeper (CPB) designation in Canada marks a significant shift away from the era of the self-taught bookkeeper towards a more standardized, professional benchmark within the industry. 

This certification aims to elevate the standards of the bookkeeping profession by distinguishing those who have undergone a thorough vetting process, including education, experience, and examination. 

It seeks to filter out individuals who may not meet the rigorous qualifications required, thereby enabling business owners to select a bookkeeper with confidence, knowing they have the necessary skills and ethical standards to manage their day-to-day financial affairs effectively.

Five professionally dressed smiling people stand against a blue background: three women and two men.

Benefits of Becoming a Certified Professional Bookkeeper (CPB)

The Canadian economy is heavily reliant on small businesses, with over 1.2 million registered across the country. 

These enterprises require trusted financial advisors to keep their financials in order and make informed decisions.

As the demand for qualified bookkeepers continues to rise, so does the value of the CPB certification.

Becoming a Certified Professional Bookkeeper demonstrates that you possess the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively manage financial records and provide valuable insights to businesses. 

It also indicates your commitment to upholding ethical standards and staying current with industry developments.

Many new Canadian businesses rely heavily on bookkeepers as crucial members of their professional team.

My own journey to CPB certification marked a substantial ascent in my career. The designation served as a testament to my dedication and proficiency, infusing my services with greater credibility and earning the trust of my clientele. 

I would highly recommend pursuing CPB certification to anyone looking to advance their bookkeeping career in Canada.

Becoming a Certified Professional Bookkeeper (CPB) in Canada brings a multitude of benefits, including:

Increased Trust

Certification enhances your credibility with clients, employers and tax accountants, establishing you as a trustworthy professional.

The CPB certification delineates a clear departure from informal bookkeeping practices, establishing an industry benchmark through meticulous criteria including education, experience, and stringent examinations.

This distinction allows bookkeepers to demonstrate their expertise and adherence to ethical standards, enabling businesses to have faith in their financial stewardship.

Continuing Education

Ongoing learning is part of maintaining your certification, ensuring you stay up-to-date with industry standards and practices. 

Not only can you maintain your professional standards through local chapters in your city and province but you can also participate in frequent webinars and an annual conference.

Lots of people sitting with their backs to the viewer listening to a speaker on a podium giving a presentation
CPB Canada offers a variety of continuing education options including an annual conference

Increased Earnings 

Certified bookkeepers often command higher salaries due to their recognized skills and professionalism. And the requirement of continuing education gives both employers and clients a peace of mind.

Discounts & Industry Partnerships

The CPB has partnered with the most influential players in the industry.

Many software solution providers like QBO, Sage, Xero, Dext, Hubdoc and many others offer partnership programs for professional bookkeepers and accountants.

You can also enjoy discounts on liability insurance and bookkeeping, accounting and tax software, reducing your operational costs.

Smiling woman sitting on a chair holding a phone and looking directly at the camera. Behind her, three blurry people at an office meeting table.
The CPB membership offers many benefits

Networking & Community Support

Being part of a community of certified bookkeepers offers support, advice, and shared knowledge from fellow professionals. 

There are online forums, monthly meetings and the annual CPB Conference which I’ve attended almost every year since I have become a member.

These benefits collectively contribute to a more robust career, professional growth, and a strong network within the bookkeeping and financial industry, not to mention an increase in your own confidence as a professional.

For me personally, one of the most valuable experiences since joining the CPB was being part of the Black Swan program and having been mentored by Ron Baker in the methods of value pricing.

Steps to Becoming a Certified Professional Bookkeeper

CPB Canada stands as the leading bookkeeping institution in Canada, advocating for the advancement of bookkeeping professionals through education, certification, and professional development.

If you are ready to elevate your bookkeeping career than these are the steps you need to take in order to become certified in Canada:

Educational Requirements

Before pursuing the CPB designation, you should ideally have a solid grounding in accounting or business, often obtained through a mix of experience and education.

While there may not be requirements for a specific type of education required beforehand, many CPBs hold accounting or bookkeeping diplomas or degrees from business colleges or universities across Canada. 

Members often have completed courses in financial accounting, tax, payroll, and other related areas.

Practical Experience

Practical bookkeeping experience is essential for certification.

CPB Canada typically requires candidates to have accumulated a minimum of three years full time bookkeeping or accounting work experience. This ensures that the prospective CPB not only knows the theory but can apply it in real-world situations.

Many members who join the organization have years of prior experience but junior members are welcome to join and grow in their career right from the start.

Certification Exam

Completing the educational and experiential prerequisites culminates in sitting for the CPB exam.

This testing assesses the candidate’s breadth of knowledge across the bookkeeping spectrum, ensuring preparedness to navigate the intricacies of contemporary financial needs.

Pass the certification exam with at least an 80% result to demonstrate your knowledge and skills in bookkeeping. 

People writing an exam. You can mostly just see hands holding pens and writing on paper.
You need to pass a certification exam before obtaining a CPB designation

This exam evaluates your proficiency across a wide range of bookkeeping and financial management topics, ensuring the bookkeeper is well-equipped to handle the complexities of modern business finances.

Continuing Professional Development

Engage in ongoing learning to maintain your certification and stay current with industry practices.

CPB Canada emphasizes the need for continuous learning.

Once certified, CPBs are expected to undertake ongoing professional development, ensuring they’re always abreast of the latest trends, tools, and regulations in the world of finance and bookkeeping.

Membership and Ethics

CPB designation in Canada requires adherence to a professional code of conduct. This emphasizes the importance of ethical behavior, confidentiality, and a commitment to the highest standards of professional integrity.

Options for Junior Bookkeepers or Accounting Students

But what if you do not have the required level of experience in order to become a Certified Professional Bookkeeper? 

Tackling the route to becoming a Certified Professional Bookkeeper might seem daunting, especially if you perceive a gap between your current experience and the qualifications required. 

Not too worry, if you are new to this field, either a student or you have under three years of work experience in the accounting field, there is a clear and navigable path laid out for you. 

For novices eager to mark their territory in the accounting world, patience coupled with practical experience serves as a sturdy foundation. 

Accumulating hands-on knowledge over a few years is not merely about meeting a checklist requirement; it’s a critical phase where theoretical understanding is meshed with the reality of the trade. 

Until then, engaging actively in the day-to-day mechanics of bookkeeping inculcates irreplaceable insights that only real-world encounters can impart.

This time-span can make for an enriching runway, launching you fully prepared towards certification. 

The first option is to work in the field for a few years and gain the necessary experience before joining the organization and sitting down for the exam to become certified. 

Alternatively, you can also enroll in the CPB organization as a member at either the level of Candidate, Apprentice or Technician while pursuing work experience at the same time. This is a great way to start preparing for your path to your certification. 

As a member you will still have access to great learning opportunities and tools. What better way to learn than from senior members in your chosen profession. 

By rubbing elbows with established members of the organization, the opportunity for employment can evolve from a mere possibility to a tangible reality. 

Engaging with established bookkeepers can set the stage for mentorship, and these connections can lead to opportunities that might otherwise remain inaccessible.


The journey to becoming a Certified Professional Bookkeeper (CPB) in Canada is not just about fulfilling a list of requirements.

It is about embarking on a path that elevates your professional standing, enhances your capabilities, and opens up a world of opportunities. 

From the rigorous education and experience prerequisites to the ongoing commitment to professional development and ethical standards, each step is designed to prepare you for a successful career in bookkeeping. 

Whether you’re drawn to the increased trust from clients and colleagues, the potential for higher earnings, or the vibrant community of professionals, achieving the CPB designation is a clear statement of your dedication to excellence in the field. 

Remember, with CPB certification, the possibilities are endless! Let’s build a better future for ourselves and our clients through continuous learning and growth as certified professionals. 

The world of bookkeeping is constantly evolving and there has never been a better time to become a Certified Professional Bookkeeper. With the rise of technology and automation, the role of bookkeepers is becoming more complex and in-demand. The 

CPB certification equips you with the necessary skills and knowledge to excel in this changing landscape and stay ahead of the game.

As someone who has walked this path since 2010, I can attest to the transformative impact it has had on my career and the invaluable connections I’ve made along the way.

I encourage you to consider the CPB designation not just as a certification, but as a milestone in your journey to becoming a leader in the bookkeeping profession. So why wait? Take the leap and become a Certified Professional Bookkeeper today!

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