As an accountant, working with a software vendor that you trust and respect can be a rewarding two-way street. Most of the larger accounting software vendors provide extra training, support, and certification programs geared specifically toward accountants and bookkeepers.
For instance, both QuickBooks and Xero have certification programs, giving certified accountants bonus perks and exposure. Today, we’ll take a look at how those programs work and what the benefits of joining up are.
Let me start by saying, these are just two of the more popular programs. One of the keys to being a trusted advisor is finding solutions that work for your clients, regardless of the perks offered by a vendor. No one wants to do business with the company pumping the best deals for its own employees – people want to work with companies that put the client’s interests first.
That is to say, use these programs if they’re a good fit for your beliefs and practices, not because they seem like good ways to make easy money.
QuickBooks’ program for accountant certification is a pretty standard, three-step process. First, you attend some classes offered by Intuit, then you work through the practice materials, and finally you take an exam. Easy peasy.
The prep is fairly self-explanatory – it’s test prep.
The classes are two-day seminars and come in QuickBooks Online and Desktop flavors. In either version, you’ll spend the first day on basics and the second day going over more advanced topics. The sessions can be taken online or in-person and they run $550.
As for the exam, it covers everything you’ll learn in the classes – including more advanced features like shortcuts and payroll options – and can be taken at third-party testing locations.
QuickBooks certification is like many other certifications, in that it’s a resume booster. There’s obviously a lot of value in knowing the information, but the real value probably comes from the credibility the certificate lends to you and your business.
QuickBooks Proadvisors and certification
If you’re a QuickBooks Proadvisor, you get access to QuickBooks certification for free. Being a Proadvisor is also free. If you go through these two free programs and pass your certification test, you’re eligible for listing in the QuickBooks Find-a-Proadvisor directory. That means free exposure, as well.
Why is this all free? QuickBooks – rightfully – believes that if you’re going to go through all the work to sign up to its program, take its classes, prep for and pass a test, and then submit your information to its directory that you’re going to bring in new QuickBooks clients.
In fact, accountants are one of the best resources accounting software vendors have. You promote the product to your clients, you provide feedback on features and functionality, and you support a recurring revenue model that makes SaaS companies tick.
Xero Partner Certification
Xero also has a program designed specifically for accountants and bookkeepers. The Xero Partner program functions as the introduction to the Xero world. Unlike the QuickBooks system, there’s no option to become Xero Certified without being a member of its partner program – again, this is free, so not a huge drawback.
Xero certification takes place over a series of seminars and requires 40 Xero University credits for the initial certification. XU credits are similar to college or CPE credits, and you’ll generate them from a variety of classes offered by Xero.
For the first time around, you’ll need a mix of core classes and elective credits for certification. You can complete the 40 XU credits anytime within the twelve months from when you begin the process. After you get your 40, you’ll need to complete 20 credits worth of training over the following year to keep your Xero certification.
While QuickBooks has Proadvisors and Certified Proadvisors, Xero offers varying levels within its Partner program, based on the number of clients you have. There are six different levels of Partner – feel free to dive into the details on Xero’s site. While there are a lot of moving parts, the biggest change along the way is the discount you can offer to your clients and the budget you get from Xero to promote its products.
To get into Xero’s advisor directory, you’ll need to hit the bronze level, which comes at 25 partner points – you can get to that level in any of (and I’m ballparking here) 7 million different ways.
Comparing QuickBooks and Xero
The first step is to figure out which products you enjoy the most and which you’re willing to recommend. I’ll say it again – don’t make choices based on your needs.
You can join both programs, of course. Many accountants may have need of both systems and may have enough clients that dual certification makes sense. There’s a not-insubstantial amount of work required, though, so make sure you’ve got the time to dedicate it to study.
QuickBooks has the more straightforward certification program, though the test does add in a hurdle. Xero’s certification is one step on a long road of points and kickbacks that can help you gamify your whole business and could lead to a major change in your workflow.
Client base aside, if it was me, I’d pick up the QuickBooks certification if I was just starting out, wanted a new job, or was trying to get a little boost to my existing practice. I’d be more inclined to go with Xero if I was interested in shifting my existing business or motivating a team of accountants.
Doubling up is doable, but I wouldn’t go for both programs in one year. Take time to figure out if one is going to be enough, then forge ahead if you feel like you need a little more.
If you’re already Xero or QuickBooks certified, I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below. Do you think it’s worth the time and effort? How long have you been certified? Would you recommend it for anyone in particular?
For more accounting software tips and trends, follow the Capterra Finance blog.
Looking for Accounting software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Accounting software solutions.