An improved printing system is provided having at least one host computer and a printer in which the printer acquires print job accounting information and communicates it to the host computer via NPAP messages. A host computer downloads print job data to the printer through a communications port on the printer (i.e., either a parallel port, serial port, or network port), and as the printer prints the print job that it received from the host computer, the printer temporarily stores job accounting information. At the end of the print job, the printer communicates that job accounting information back to armed host computers via a bi-directional communications port, including typical information such as: the job identifier number, job processing time, number of sheets of paper from each paper source, number of impressions from each paper source (either one-sided or two-sided impressions), the port identifier, the network user name, the name of the print job (as specified), and the printer's serial number. Since the data is being accumulated at the printer, rather than at the host computer, there is no estimating by a host-resident program to acquire these statistics, and no data base merging (from several host computers) is required to categorize all of the data for one particular printer. Furthermore, the print jobs need not pass through a network queue in order to be detected and accounted for.