What Degree Do You Need to Be a Bookkeeper?

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What Degree Do You Need to Be a Bookkeeper?

Bookkeepers keep track of how much money is going in and out of their employer’s business. These accountants keep track of and document all financial transactions. They also keep internal records up to date and double-check their finances against bank statements. Payroll and accounts payable, and receivable are frequently handled by bookkeepers. Finance-oriented people with excellent attention to detail and solid arithmetic skills are drawn to bookkeeping. To work as a bookkeeper, you don’t need a license.

It is one of the highest-paying remote jobs available. It’s also a fascinating career option for someone interested in finance but not interested in completing the qualifications to become an accountant. Working as a bookkeeper could be a lucrative and gratifying alternative if you’re searching for a profession that allows you to put your financial or computer talents to good use. In this post, we’ll go over a bookkeeper’s work description, average compensation, and how to get started in this field.

The Best Way to Get Started in Bookkeeping? 

All you need are a few fundamental skills to get started in bookkeeping. These don’t require any formal education or training, but they may be talents that you’ll need to improve over time. 

These abilities can help you succeed as a bookkeeper: 

  • Math skills: You’ll be responsible for producing and maintaining accurate financial reports for clients regularly. Although technology handles a lot of the work for you, having a basic understanding of math will help you decide whether the figures provided by the software are correct or if a mistake has happened.
  • Computer skills: You’ll use accounting software, bookkeeping software, and spreadsheets like Excel daily. 
  • Time management: You’ll be going from client to client a lot. 
  • Attention to detail: One of your day-to-day responsibilities will be to record financial transactions regularly, where even a few dollars off can be significant. So that your client may complete tax returns, the data you input must be 100% compliant and accurate. 

This job path will require you to work with many financial data and numbers. If you’re not a natural mathematician or accountant, it can be worthwhile to practice some fundamental accounting and math abilities on your own to prepare for this type of job.

What Is the Role of a Bookkeeper? 

Bookkeepers are in charge of their clients’ everyday financial transactions. They are in charge of overseeing, recording, and facilitating all incoming and outgoing payments for a specific account. Bookkeepers are primarily concerned with ensuring the financial health and stability of their clients. They also safeguard their customers by ensuring that all financial transactions adhere to federal rules and regulations. Bookkeepers can work for businesses or individuals, and they can be salaried or self-employed. 

A bookkeeper’s other responsibilities include:

  • Creating and filing financial reports
  • Updating and evaluating financial data 
  • Editing and drafting budgets
  • Managing employee payroll 
  • Alerting their clients to any financial disparities

Salary Average 

In the United States, the average hourly wage for a bookkeeper is $17.73. Salary ranges from $7.25 to $35.15 on a national scale. These figures represent the typical remuneration on a company’s payroll. Freelance bookkeepers determine their prices and typically charge between $40 and $60 per hour. When freelance bookkeeper works full-time and has numerous clients, they frequently earn more than a salaried bookkeeper’s annual salary of $35-40,000.

What Are the Steps to Becoming a Bookkeeper? 

Which school and training path you take will determine how to become a bookkeeper. Many bookkeepers have a bachelor’s degree, and companies often prefer individuals who have attended college. 

Higher education, on the other hand, is not a required bookkeeping qualification for some businesses. Relevant experience and accounting expertise may be more valuable than formal education in some circumstances. 

On your path to becoming a bookkeeper, you can pursue one of two paths. You can either work for a corporation as a salaried employee or start your freelance bookkeeping business. In either case, you’ll need to take the following steps to get started on this professional path:

1. Pursue a High School Degree

Many bookkeepers, unlike accountants, have associate’s or bachelor’s degrees. Employers typically require their bookkeepers to have a high school diploma or a GED. A high school diploma will provide you with the required math, writing, and communication abilities to work as a bookkeeper. Time management, organization, and teamwork are all abilities gained in high school. 

While a college diploma is not required, ambitious bookkeepers with an Associate’s or Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration or Accounting will be qualified to work for clients with higher educational requirements. Financial mathematics, computer systems, economics, and business law will all be covered in these programs.

  • Complete Your High School Diploma: To be admitted to a recognized degree-granting school, you must have a high school diploma or a GED certificate. 
  • Enroll in a Bachelor’s Degree Program: In around two academic years, an associate degree in bookkeeping or accounting provides the requisite employment skills. You can also get a four-year bachelor’s degree to learn more about the industry. 
  • Develop Experience: After graduation, look for entry-level bookkeeping positions. During the early stages of their careers, most new bookkeepers perform only a few tasks. As you gain experience, you will be given more responsibilities.

2. Obtain Training 

Training in bookkeeping can come from a multitude of places. Many bookkeepers begin by learning to utilize accounting software such as QuickBooks. They could also study the fundamentals of practical finance through online courses, books, or seminars. Self-taught bookkeepers often pick up the skills they need on the job rather than receiving formal training. In most cases, an entry-level bookkeeper can be trained for six months or less. A self-taught bookkeeper’s training period will vary depending on the approach they use and their schedule. 

Some bookkeepers may choose to intern in a local business or accounting firm. Internships expose aspiring bookkeepers to the world of business finance and allow them to observe the work of other financial experts. Internships are often found through your college, network, or job board online. 

Internships or training placements are available from some employers, who will train bookkeepers on the job. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most bookkeepers can learn the core skills of the field in roughly six months of hands-on experience. You can work as a permanent bookkeeper or freelance bookkeeper once you have obtained your certification.

3. Submit a Job Application 

If you want to work as a salaried bookkeeper, the next step is to explore local or remote job opportunities. You will need to produce a well-written resume that shows your bookkeeping skills and details any professional experience you may have to portray yourself as a viable candidate. The accounting software knowledge, a deep understanding of personal and business finance, and a willingness to learn are all valuable assets. If you lack experience, you might be able to compensate by portraying yourself as a diligent worker with a lot of room for advancement. Make sure your resume is tailored to the position you are looking for.

4. Work as a Freelancer 

If you want to work as a freelance bookkeeper, the next step is to start your own business. Most of your potential clients will want to hire someone with some experience, so you might choose to work for a year or two in a standard bookkeeping role with a local business or accounting firm before becoming freelance. 

You can start looking for local, remote, or virtual jobs using online job boards and other job search resources once you’re sure you have enough experience, skills, and time. You can tap into your network by asking friends, family, and coworkers whether they know of anyone who requires a bookkeeper. Advertisements can also be placed in the newspaper, online, or at a local community center. Specializing in a specific form of bookkeeping is one way to attract clients. If you have specific bookkeeping experience for schools, charities, or restaurants, for example, you will be able to offer yourself to similar firms effectively.

5. Think about Certification

Certification can help both salaried and freelancing workers. The American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers and the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers can certify you as a bookkeeper. Working as a bookkeeper full-time for at least two years or a comparable number of part-time hours is required to obtain these credentials. After that, you must pass an exam and agree to observe a code of ethics. You can also get a Certified Public Bookkeeper license by taking the Uniform Bookkeeper Certification Exam online. 

Although certification is not essential to being a good bookkeeper, it can help you win high-end clients. Some firms may only use certified bookkeepers since they are guaranteed to be talented and experienced. 

Internships or training placement programs are available from some employers who will train bookkeepers on the job. According to the BLS, most bookkeepers can learn the core abilities of the job in roughly six months of hands-on experience. You can work as a permanent bookkeeper or freelance bookkeeper once you’ve obtained your certification.

Bookkeepers Are Required to Have Specific Certifications

Unlike other accounting professionals, bookkeepers do not need any licenses or certifications. Optional certifications, such as the certified public bookkeeper (CPB) designation, are pursued by certain bookkeepers.

Optional Credentials and Degrees 

The CPB credential is the most widely recognized qualification for bookkeepers. This extra license comes with several benefits, including: 

  • A means to stand out to employers by exhibiting professional expertise and devotion 
  • Adherence to higher ethical standards
  • Formal confirmation of your knowledge base 
  • Increased credibility 

In the United States, CPB certification is administered by the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers (CPB). A similar credential is offered by the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB). The AIPB’s certified bookkeeper (CB) qualification may potentially help you advance your career.

Candidates must pass four tests to receive a CPB credential from NACPB. Test takers can study for each exam by enrolling in NACPB-approved courses. The tests include the following: 

  • The Accounting Certification Exam 
  • The Bookkeeping Certification Exam 
  • The Payroll Certification Exam 
  • The QuickBooks Online Certification Exam 

Each of the four exams results in a separate certificate. All four certifications add up to a CPB designation. Bookkeepers must complete at least 24 hours of continuing education each year to maintain their CPB status. The CB program at AIPB follows a similar path. To obtain the certificate, candidates must pass an exam. For self-study, AIPB provides prep course booklets. CB preparation may be included in the curricula of associate degree programs and continuing education providers.

Experienced Bookkeeper Qualifications 

Many bookkeepers start in junior accounting positions. Some bookkeepers, for example, gain experience by working as accounts payable or accounts receivable clerks. Some junior-level experience requirements may be waived through certificate and degree programs. Even so, putting your knowledge of essential bookkeeping responsibilities to the test through practice is always beneficial. Internships and practicums are examples of hands-on learning programs that allow aspiring bookkeepers to receive knowledge and experience.

Education’s Bookkeeping Requirements 

Recording financial transactions, monitoring an organization’s general ledger, and preparing financial reports are all responsibilities of a bookkeeper. Even though some bookkeepers do not have a college diploma, most companies prefer candidates who have completed college coursework in accounting or a related discipline. Bookkeepers can prepare for their careers in a variety of ways. An associate degree in bookkeeping or accounting is earned by many professionals. This degree typically takes two years to complete. Students learn math and accounting abilities in an associate program. Graduates can work as accounting clerks or bookkeepers. Graduates of an associate degree in bookkeeping are also prepared to transition to a bachelor’s degree program.

Even though some bookkeepers do not have a college diploma, most companies prefer candidates who have completed college coursework in accounting or a related discipline. 

A bachelor’s degree in accounting is required for bookkeepers. This training develops abilities that go beyond bookkeeping. Auditing, public accounting, and cost-accounting are all subjects studied by accounting majors. Transfer students with an associate’s degree can usually finish their four-year degree in two years. Graduates of this program are prepared for entry-level accounting careers. Undergraduate certificates in bookkeeping are available at many two-year and four-year colleges. These programs typically last a year and provide students with the necessary core skills to function as a bookkeeper. Earning an undergraduate accounting certificate also qualifies you for various bookkeeping positions.

Learning How to Use Technology 

Many clients would expect you to adopt software to boost your efficiency and reporting capabilities. Find a software program that offers good learning resources and certification if you plan to learn it. Look for software regularly utilized by the types of clients you wish to work with as a bonus. Certain kinds of software are better suited to specific sectors.

To become a top bookkeeper, you’ll need these skills

There are a few more abilities you should have in addition to your bookkeeping expertise. You’ll need the following items: 

  • numerical accuracy and attention to detail – you’re being hired to keep things cleaner than the business owner can 
  • an analytical mind – you enjoy solving problems and persist in finding an answer
  • strong communication skills – you’ll need to be able to explain things clearly to the business owner and gain their trust and confidence 
  • good organization and multitasking skills – if you own a business, you’ll have multiple clients on the go, and you’ll need to multitask.

What Are the Requirements for Starting a Bookkeeping Business? 

A mix of education, certification, and mastery of the job tools is an excellent foundation for getting to where you’re ready to start your firm. Most clients will want to see that you have some experience, as well as recommendations from other business owners. Furthermore, a strong motivation for starting a bookkeeping firm is to assist others in successfully running their businesses. You don’t need accounting credentials, but some understanding can’t hurt, especially if you’re the go-between for the business owner and their accountant.

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