How To Become a Bookkeeper

How To Become a Bookkeeper

Are you looking for a career that offers stability, flexibility, and a good income? Consider becoming a bookkeeper! Bookkeeping is a vital role within any business, as it involves keeping track of a company’s financial records, ensuring accuracy and compliance with regulations. Whether you’re looking for a full-time job or want to stay remote and work on a freelance basis, bookkeeping can provide you with the opportunities you’re seeking.

One way to acquire the knowledge and skills needed is by enrolling in a bookkeeping training course. Many online platforms offer comprehensive courses that cover the contents of the bookkeeping field, including familiarizing yourself with software such as Intuit QuickBooks. These courses are often self-paced, allowing you to move through the material at your own speed.

Once you’ve completed the training course and obtained the necessary certifications, you can start applying for bookkeeping positions. You can look for job openings within local businesses, or you can offer your services as a freelance bookkeeper. Having a client-facing role as a bookkeeper can be beneficial, as it allows you to build relationships and expand your professional network.

As a bookkeeper, your responsibilities will include maintaining accurate financial records, managing accounts payable and receivable, preparing financial statements, and ensuring compliance with tax regulations. You may also be tasked with providing financial reports and analysis to help businesses make informed decisions. The job of a bookkeeper is crucial to a company’s success, as it provides valuable information that helps businesses stay on track financially.

Step 1: Research and Understand the Role of a Bookkeeper

Before embarking on a career as a bookkeeper, it’s essential to thoroughly research and understand the role. A bookkeeper is responsible for recording and maintaining a company’s financial transactions, ensuring accurate and up-to-date records. In this role, you will work closely with clients and colleagues, tracking income and expenses, preparing financial statements, and managing the companys’ payroll.

To become a bookkeeper, you will need a set of competencies and essential skills. Firstly, it’s important to familiarize yourself with accounting principles, as this knowledge forms the key foundation for the work you will do. Understanding tax regulations and having experience with tax filings is also crucial.

To stay informed and up-to-date with the ever-evolving field of bookkeeping, you should consider earning an associate’s degree in accounting or a related field. This formal training will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of financial concepts and practices. Alternatively, you could choose to complete a certificate course in bookkeeping, which can provide you with the necessary skills to excel in this profession.

1.1 Potential Job Opportunities

Once you have completed your training and have obtained the necessary qualifications, there are various job opportunities available to bookkeepers. You could choose to work within a specific industry, such as healthcare, construction, or technology, providing bookkeeping services tailored to the unique needs of these businesses. Alternatively, you may decide to work in a public accounting firm, where you will handle the bookkeeping needs of multiple clients.

1.2 Typical Workflows and Responsibilities

1.3 Salary and Benefits

The salary of a bookkeeper can vary depending on factors such as experience, location, and the size of the company. As of 2021, the median annual wage for bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks in the United States was $42,960. In some cases, bookkeepers may also receive benefits such as healthcare, retirement plans, and paid time off.

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It’s worth noting that the role of a bookkeeper can be performed remotely, providing flexibility in your work environment. However, some positions may require travel to client locations or work within an office setting. It’s important to consider your preferences, personality, and desired work-life balance when deciding on the path you want to take.

Step 2: Obtain the Necessary Education and Training

In order to become a bookkeeper, it is crucial to acquire the necessary education and training. While a high school diploma may be sufficient for some positions, most employers prefer candidates with at least an associate’s degree in accounting or a related field. This level of education ensures that you have a solid foundation in accounting principles and the necessary knowledge to perform bookkeeping tasks.

Enrolling in a full-time associate’s degree program typically requires completing around 60 credit hours of coursework. This includes fundamental accounting courses, such as financial and managerial accounting, as well as math courses to develop proficiency in handling numbers.

Alternatively, you could also consider apprenticeship programs, which provide on-the-job training in bookkeeping. This direct experience can be valuable in building your skills and may even lead to a full-time job.

The American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB) offers a Certified Bookkeeper (CB) certification, which can further enhance your credentials and make you stand out in the job market. This certification requires passing an exam and ensuring that you have at least two years of full-time bookkeeping experience or the part-time equivalent.

In addition to education and certification, it is crucial to have the specific skills and knowledge required for bookkeeping. These include proficiency in bookkeeping software, such as QuickBooks or Intuit, and the ability to maintain accurate financial records. Bookkeepers also need to be detail-oriented, organized, and have a good understanding of business workflows.

When applying for bookkeeper positions, having a resume that highlights your education, certifications, and relevant experience is key. Be sure to include any internships or apprenticeships you have completed, as well as any client-facing or cash management responsibilities you may have had.

Benefits of Becoming a Bookkeeper

There are several benefits to pursuing a career as a bookkeeper. First and foremost, it offers an alternative to a traditional four-year college education. While many jobs in the accounting field require a bachelor’s degree, bookkeeping positions can often be obtained with an associate’s degree or even just certificates.

Another advantage of being a bookkeeper is the potential for a stable income. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual wage for bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks was $42,960 as of May 2020. The demand for skilled bookkeepers is expected to remain steady, ensuring a steady job market.

Overall, becoming a bookkeeper can be a rewarding career choice for people who enjoy working with numbers, have a knack for organization, and want to play a key role in ensuring accurate financial records.

Additional Resources

American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB)
Intuit QuickBooks Online Certification
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics – Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks

Step 3: Gain Practical Experience through Internships or Entry-Level Positions

Once you have completed your bookkeeping course and acquired the essential skills and competencies, the next step is to gain practical experience in a real-world setting. This can be done through internships or entry-level positions in bookkeeping departments of small businesses or accounting firms.

An internship or entry-level position offers you the opportunity to apply what you have learned and gain hands-on experience in bookkeeping. It helps you understand how bookkeeping functions within a business and gives you a chance to work with actual clients and their financial information. This practical experience also allows you to develop your skills further and learn more about the intricacies of bookkeeping.

During your internship or entry-level position, you may be responsible for a variety of tasks such as recording financial transactions, reconciling accounts, preparing financial statements, managing cash flow, and assisting with payroll. This hands-on experience will not only enhance your technical abilities but also improve your accuracy and attention to detail.

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Internships or entry-level positions also provide an opportunity to network with professionals in the bookkeeping field, which can be beneficial for future job prospects. Building relationships with experienced bookkeepers and accountants can give you access to mentorship and guidance, and may even lead to future employment opportunities.

It is important to note that a bookkeeper does not require a license in most states. However, obtaining a certification or completing an apprenticeship program can significantly increase your job opportunities and earning potential. The American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB) offers a Certified Bookkeeper (CB) credential, which is highly recognized in the industry.

Furthermore, completing an associate’s degree program in bookkeeping or accounting can also enhance your credentials and make you a more desirable candidate for bookkeeping positions. Some community colleges and vocational schools offer associate’s degree programs that focus on essential bookkeeping skills such as financial accounting, cost accounting, taxation, and business mathematics.

Overall, gaining practical experience through internships or entry-level positions is a crucial step in starting your career as a bookkeeper. It not only provides you with valuable on-the-job training but also helps you develop the essential skills and competencies needed to succeed in the field.

Step 4: Develop the Essential Skills for Bookkeeping

Bookkeeping requires a specific set of skills and knowledge to successfully manage a business’s financial information. Therefore, it is important to acquire the necessary skills to excel in this field.

One of the most important skills you’ll need as a bookkeeper is good math proficiency. Bookkeeping involves tracking and recording financial transactions, so having a solid understanding of numbers is essential. If math has never been your strong suit, don’t worry! There are alternative ways to obtain the math skills you may require, such as taking a math course or using free online resources.

Being organized is another key skill for a bookkeeper. You’ll need to stay on top of your work, keep track of your clients’ financial records, and ensure that all documents are filed correctly. Attention to detail is crucial in bookkeeping, as even the smallest mistake can have significant consequences for a business’s financial reporting and taxes.

In addition, having a good knowledge of accounting principles is essential for bookkeepers. Bookkeeping is often seen as an apprenticeship for those who want to become accountants. If you’re just starting out, having a basic understanding of accounting concepts will help you in your bookkeeping career. This includes knowing how to read and interpret financial statements and understanding concepts like assets, liabilities, and equity.

In some cases, having a bookkeeping certification can be a valuable asset to your resume. Certifications, such as the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB) and the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers (NACPB), can help you demonstrate your expertise and increase your chances of finding higher-paying bookkeeping positions.

While not all bookkeeping positions require a formal education, having an associate’s degree or certificate in accounting can be beneficial. These educational programs provide you with a solid foundation in accounting principles and can make you more familiar with the specific software and tools used in the industry.

It’s also important to keep learning and stay up-to-date with the latest developments in bookkeeping and accounting. The field is constantly evolving, and being knowledgeable about new regulations and reporting requirements can make you a more valuable and sought-after bookkeeper.

Lastly, it’s essential to manage your own expectations. Bookkeeping can be a fulfilling and stable career, but it may not offer the same salary potential as other accounting positions. However, it does provide an opportunity for steady work and the potential to become an expert in your field.

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Step 5: Obtain Professional Certifications and Join Relevant Organizations

Once you have acquired the necessary competencies and knowledge through training and hands-on experience, it is time to take the next step in your bookkeeping career. Obtaining professional certifications and joining relevant organizations will not only enhance your credibility but also open doors to better job opportunities, salary increases, and potential networking connections.

One of the most recognized certifications for bookkeepers is the Certified Bookkeeper (CB) designation. Offered by the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers (NACPB), this certification ensures that you have the necessary skills and knowledge to properly handle the financial records and workflows of a company. To earn the CB certification, you will need to pass the NACPB’s exam, which tests your understanding of bookkeeping principles, accounting software, payroll fundamentals, and various other bookkeeping tasks.

In addition to the CB certification, you may also consider becoming a QuickBooks Certified User (QBCU). QuickBooks is a widely used accounting software, and being certified in QuickBooks demonstrates your proficiency in using this tool effectively. The certification process typically requires completing an online training course and passing an exam.

Joining relevant professional organizations, such as the NACPB or the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB), can also be beneficial. These organizations provide resources, training, and networking opportunities to help you stay updated on industry trends, broaden your knowledge base, and connect with colleagues in the field. Being part of a professional organization can also enhance your professional credibility and open doors to potential job opportunities.

This step is especially essential if you plan on starting your own bookkeeping business. Having professional certifications and being a member of industry organizations can provide potential clients with the reassurance that you are qualified and trustworthy.

Remember that each certification and organization may have specific requirements and expectations, so it is important to read and understand their guidelines before applying. Some certifications may also require a certain number of years of experience or a college degree in a related field.

Volunteering or taking on apprenticeship positions in a bookkeeping department is another way to acquire hands-on experience while working towards certification. This provides you with valuable practical experience and allows you to apply and strengthen your bookkeeping skills in a real-world setting.

Overall, obtaining professional certifications and joining relevant organizations can significantly enhance your bookkeeping career. It not only demonstrates your commitment to the field but also provides you with the knowledge, connections, and resources needed to excel in this profession. Certification and membership in industry organizations help you stand out from the competition and position yourself as a trusted and skilled bookkeeper.


What are the essential steps to start a career as a bookkeeper?

The essential steps to start a career as a bookkeeper include earning an associate’s degree, gaining practical experience through internships or entry-level positions, obtaining relevant certifications, and continuously improving your skills and knowledge in the field.

Why is earning an associate’s degree important to become a bookkeeper?

Earning an associate’s degree in accounting or a related field is important to become a bookkeeper because it provides you with a solid foundation of knowledge in financial concepts, bookkeeping principles, and accounting software. It also demonstrates your commitment to the field and makes you more competitive in the job market.

Can I become a bookkeeper without a degree?

While it is possible to become a bookkeeper without a degree, having an associate’s degree or higher in accounting or a related field will significantly improve your chances of finding employment as a bookkeeper. Without a degree, you may need to gain practical experience through internships or entry-level positions and obtain relevant certifications to enhance your qualifications.

Are internships important for becoming a bookkeeper?

Internships are highly valuable for becoming a bookkeeper as they provide you with practical experience in a real-world accounting environment. Through internships, you can apply your knowledge, learn new skills, and build a professional network, which can greatly enhance your chances of securing a job as a bookkeeper.

What certifications should I obtain to become a bookkeeper?

There are several certifications that can boost your credibility and qualifications as a bookkeeper. Some of the popular certifications include the Certified Bookkeeper (CB) credential offered by the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB), the Certified Public Bookkeeper (CPB) designation offered by the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers (NACPB), and the QuickBooks Certified User certification.

What education is required to become a bookkeeper?

To become a bookkeeper, it is recommended to earn an associate’s degree in accounting or a related field. This will provide you with the necessary knowledge and skills to efficiently manage financial records and transactions.

Dave Pennells

By Dave Pennells

Dave Pennells, MS, has contributed his expertise as a career consultant and training specialist across various fields for over 15 years. At City University of Seattle, he offers personal career counseling and conducts workshops focused on practical job search techniques, resume creation, and interview skills. With a Master of Science in Counseling, Pennells specializes in career consulting, conducting career assessments, guiding career transitions, and providing outplacement services. Her professional experience spans multiple sectors, including banking, retail, airlines, non-profit organizations, and the aerospace industry. Additionally, since 2001, he has been actively involved with the Career Development Association of Australia.