If this is the first time you’re looking into work in the accounting field you’ve probably heard the term “bookkeeper” before but have no real idea what it means. A bookkeeper typically works for a small-to-medium company performing basic accounting duties. This is generally an entry level position in the accounting industry, sometimes not even requiring any post secondary education.
What are a bookkeeper’s regular duties?
How much a bookkeeper does will depend on the size of the company. Some bookkeepers will work under an accountant or even a team of accountants at a large company and be focused on a very specific area of the company’s finances, but most bookkeepers work for small-to-medium companies and have broad duties which can include any of the following:
- Tagging and monitoring fixed assets
- Purchasing/ordering supplies for the company
- Paying supplier invoices on time
- Creating financial transactions and documents
- Collecting sales tax and remitting it to the government
- Keep track of and restock the petty cash fund
- Create or maintain an orderly filing system for all accounting papers
- Do monthly reconciliations for all the business’s bank accounts
- Monitor and update the chart of accounts
- Monitor and update the yearly budget
- Calculate deviances from the stated budget and notify management about any significant issues
- Manage payroll, ensuring that all payments go out within a reasonable amount of time
- Report to either supervising or external accountants who file the company’s taxes
- Provide any other clerical or administrative help requested by management
Small companies often ask bookkeepers to handle all of their financial transactions and many only hire part time bookkeepers.
How much does a bookkeeper get paid?
It varies greatly depending on the size and type of company you end up working for but most bookkeepers make roughly $34,000 per year.
What kind of education do you need to become a bookkeeper?
This also depends largely on the company you work for. Some companies will hire high school graduates with a good head for math and train them. Other companies require bookkeepers to have taken some advanced courses in accounting or finance through a college or university. Read the requirements for different job postings in your area to determine whether or not you’ll need to take some courses at your local university or college.
Both the National Bookkeepers Association and the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers also offer certification, which can help set you apart from the competition.
What skills does a bookkeeper need to have?
Bookkeepers might not need a formal education but they do need certain skills. A bookkeeper must pay close attention to detail, have a good understanding of math and be able to work with computers, specifically Excel. Many employers will train you on a specific type of accounting software that they use but learning how to use them in advance is always better.
Organization is also crucial for bookkeepers, as are good communication skills. It’s important to be able to communicate well with management and other accounting staff and to have all the files organized properly come tax season. Of course, it’s also important to be able to keep your clients’ financial information confidential and to develop a relationship of trust them.
What opportunities do bookkeepers have for career advancement?
Again this is something that depends largely on where you end up working. Large companies and even some medium sized businesses might help fund your education to become a properly trained accountant if you do excellent work there for a number of years. You can also choose to start your own practice and work for a few different companies.
You can also earn raises by being an excellent bookkeeper but there’s definitely a limit to how much you can advance your career without completing a bachelor degree in accounting.
Becoming a bookkeeper is a great way to figure out whether or not you want to actually become an accountant or fund your accounting degree. And since new businesses are opening all the time there are always great opportunities for bookkeepers.