Penn Foster Bookkeeping Course – Waste Of Your Hard-Earned Money?

Penn Foster bookkeeping courseAccording to the numbers in 2019, in the United States, there are over 28.8 million small businesses (varies each year). This does not take into account the wealth of major corporations. All of these companies, both big and small, can benefit from the expertise of a bookkeeper.

Bookkeepers have a set of skills that allow them to efficiently and accurately explore a company’s numbers to ensure that everything is up to par. They also work to identify any potential issues that could alter the financial health of the business. To become a bookkeeper, it is important to choose the right training program.

The Penn Foster bookkeeping course is one of these options. Looking at the details of the program can help you to determine if it is the best one to help you to launch your career as a bookkeeper.

What Makes a Good Bookkeeper?

If you love details and numbers, being a bookkeeping could be an ideal career choice for you.

Other important traits of a professional bookkeeper include:

  • You like to ask questions and find out why something is happening
  • The bookkeeping process is intriguing to you
  • You have no issues recognizing what you do not know
  • You know that bookkeeping is always evolving, and you look forward to continuing your education
  • You are trustworthy

Ultimately, if you want to help businesses to succeed, bookkeeping is a viable career choice. As a bookkeeper, you will be responsible for knowing the numbers and relaying this information to the company so that they know where they stand financially.

The Penn Foster bookkeeping course puts emphasis on the details. It also shows you how the information that you learn relates to working as a bookkeeper in real life. Use this information to help to determine if this program is ideal for developing the bookkeeping tools you need to find success in this field.

What is the Penn Foster Bookkeeping Course?

Penn Foster

The Penn Foster bookkeeping course allows you to develop a strong understanding of QuickBooks while you learn the fundamentals of bookkeeping. It takes you through a diverse range of topics from how to handle a company’s expenses to knowing how to run and maintain a variety of financial reports.

This is an e-learning course that you can do without needing to go into a classroom. The Penn Foster bookkeeping course does not have a strict schedule. You can study the material at the times that are convenient for you.

As part of the program, you have access to Success Coaches. These are individuals that have experience with teaching and the material that you are learning. This helps to ensure that if you need clarification or you have any questions, someone is available to provide this for you.

The Penn Foster bookkeeping course lets you move through the material at your own pace. You can opt to do it on your own, or you can take advantage of the Penn Foster Community. In this area, you have an opportunity to interact with other students who are taking this course.

All of the coursework can be completed on your computer, or you can use a smaller device since everything is mobile friendly. The material comes in a variety of forms, such as videos, reading materials and visual simulations. Use the goal-setting tools to help yourself to develop a regular study schedule.

The Penn Foster bookkeeping course includes the following elements:

  • Relevant content that includes lectures in live video format to deliver the learning objectives
  • Recaps of the material in your textbook so that you can remember the most important points
  • Assignments that allow you to gain some hands-on experience
  • Practice questions you can use to better prepare yourself for examinations
  • A variety of activities that reinforce the information that you are learning
  • Settings that are customizable to your learning environment preferences

Is Penn Foster a Credible School?

The website states that Penn Foster has been around for over 125 years. While the Penn Foster bookkeeping course is not quite this old, they have been offering it for a long time. This school is nationally and regionally accredited.

The accreditation and licensing information includes:

  • Pennsylvania State Board of Private Licensed Schools
  • Commission on Secondary Schools of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Distance Education Accrediting Commission

The faculty that teaches the Penn Foster bookkeeping course have experience working as certified bookkeepers in the real world. They are proficient with the material and are able to deliver it in a way that is easy to comprehend.

Penn Foster Bookkeeping Course Details

course details

The Penn Foster bookkeeping course is divided into multiple units. All of the materials and tools that you need to complete the coursework is included so that you do not have to buy anything additional. There are seven units in this course. At the end, you will complete a final bookkeeping project.

Unit One

This unit begins with a section titled “Starting Your Program.” Here you will get to know more about the school and how they designed the course. It helps you to navigate the website so that you know where the different elements are.

The objectives in this section include:

  • How to find the community and take advantage of it to gets answers to your questions
  • Using the student portal
  • The social media sites of the school and how to connect with them

The first lesson is focused on the accounting equation. This is one of the most basic elements of bookkeeping and it sets the foundation for the rest of the course. You get a glossary of accounting terms to use with this section.

The objectives include:

  • Learning the first steps of this equation
  • Applying the equation and explaining it
  • Defining common bookkeeping terms and being able to discuss how they apply to the field
  • The balance sheet and its purpose
  • How to prepare a balance sheet

Unit Two

In this unit, there are two lessons to explore. First, you learn about the books of accounting.

After completing this unit, you will have the following knowledge:

  • You will be able to identify what a journal and a ledger is
  • Record entries in each of these tools
  • Know the different elements of journals and ledgers
  • Post items in each of these tools
  • Know which steps to use and in which order to fill out journals and ledgers

The second part of this unit is about liabilities and assets. You also learn about owner’s equity. This section comes with a workbook and two learning aids. It starts off by introducing you to the chart of accounts. You also get further information about working with journals and ledgers.

Unit Three

There are two parts to this unit. You will start off by looking at expenses and revenues. This includes information about credits and debits. Learn how to organize, post and analyze different types of transactions. Here you also get information about the trial balance, preparing one and its purpose.

Financial reports are the second part of this unit. It comes with two more workbooks that you will use.

The reports that you explore include:

  • Worksheets
  • Closing balance sheet
  • Accounting record closure
  • Income statements

Here you also get information about accounts. You learn about permanent and temporary accounts, and how to tell the difference between them.

Unit Four

There are three lessons within this unit. The first talks about payroll and cash accounting. Look at cash transactions and how to properly document. Learn more about what it takes to prepare, record and execute payroll actions in a timely manner.

Accounting systems is the next lesson that you will delve into. Accrual accounting is explored, and you learn about the differences between it and cash accounting. Here you are introduced to inventory and how to ensure accuracy when you are recording it.

The third part of this unit is wholesale accounting. You get information about invoices and the elements that are related to them. This section comes with three workbooks. There is also a supplement that will help you to read balance sheets and income statements.

Unit Five

Here you will learn about the different activities that bookkeepers perform at the end of the month. Assets are also a part of this lesson. This unit shows you how these two concepts tie together so that you can ensure accurate calculations.

Learn how to prepare the various documents that you need to do at the end of every month to ensure that a company’s books are in order. This unit also explores year-end documents, what they are and the steps that you need to take to fill them out accurately.

Unit Six

The focus of this unit is Microsoft Excel. This is a spreadsheet program that is commonly used by bookkeepers to organize a variety of financial figures. It helps you to understand how to use the program and the different functions that make organizing the numbers easier. You will need to successfully complete a graded project regarding Excel before moving onto unit seven.

Unit Seven

This is the final unit of this course. Its primary focus is on QuickBooks since knowing this software is imperative for being an effective bookkeeper today. It begins by giving you an introduction to this software. Learn how to navigate the software and input different figures into the right areas.

The next three sections of this unit are focused on how to use QuickBooks for different bookkeeping tasks, including payroll, business transactions, inventory, banking and financial reporting. This information is broken down so that it is easier to focus on.

Once you finish all of these sections, you should have a solid grasp on how to use QuickBooks. You get a textbook with this unit that will help you learn how to use QuickBooks. (See our pick for best QuickBooks training)

Final Project

The purpose of this final project is to make sure that you fully understand the information that you studied throughout this course. You have to do this project manually so that you get a real feel for what it takes to work as a professional bookkeeper.

This project involves preparing financial statements and maintaining the accounting records for a business that is classified as a sole proprietorship. You will rely on the skills that you have learned and adapt them to the specialized business that is the foundation of this project. The elements of this project include ledgers, journals, business checks and papers and a narrative of transactions.

All of the supplements that you need to complete this project are provided for you so that you have everything you need to complete the project. These materials include subsidiary ledgers, journals, a general ledger, forms and documents.

How Much Does the Penn Foster Bookkeeping Course Cost?

There are different payment options for the Penn Foster bookkeeping course. The one that you choose determines the total cost of the program.

Here are the payment options:

  • If you pay for the program upfront, the total cost is $699
  • If you choose to use the auto payment monthly plan, it costs $49 a month for a total of $779
  • You can mail in your monthly payments of $49 a month for a total of $875

You have several options regarding the payment method that you use:

  • PayPal
  • Money order
  • Major credit cards including Visa, American Express, MasterCard and Discover
  • Check
  • Automatic withdrawal from your savings or checking account

This school is approved to accept veteran’s education benefits. They have VA support specialists on staff that you can talk to so that you can learn more about this option.

Starting Your Bookkeeping Career After Finishing the Course

Once you complete the Penn Foster bookkeeping course, you are provided with a certificate that shows that you finished the program successfully. The information that you learn from the program allows you to work as a bookkeeper in entry-level positions so this is not the best course if you want to make the most money. (See our Complete Bookkeeping and QuickBooks Training  review for our top pick). You can also choose to pursue further certification via professional bookkeeping organizations.


Penn Foster has been around for a long time, so they have a relatively strong reputation in the e-learning industry. This Penn Foster bookkeeping course uses updated information and materials to ensure that you are getting quality information that relates to the bookkeeping field as it stands today.

The program provides you with everything that you need to complete the course successfully. This means that you do not have to purchase any additional books or other resources to tackle the coursework.

Once you finish the Penn Foster bookkeeping course, you are ready to start working as a bookkeeper. This program provides you with the tools and expertise that you need to provide full and comprehensive bookkeeping services to companies in the industry that you choose.