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How to Become a Bookkeeper

Bookkeeping may seem like an outdated job, but learning how to become a bookkeeper is a great idea. Bookkeepers are needed just as much now as they have ever been, and for anyone with a knack for numbers, this could be a fantastic career. Read on to find out how to become a bookkeeper.

What Is a Bookkeeper?

A bookkeeper is hired by a business to keep track of and help manage all of the business’ finances. Bookkeepers track and organize all transactions, bills, invoices, and financial statements. Hiring someone to do all of this takes a lot of stress off of business owners who would otherwise have to do it all themselves.

What Does a Bookkeeper Do?

Categorizes Transactions

Bookkeepers track all transactions made by a business and categorize them to gain a better understanding of the business’ financial data. The transactions are often categorized by groups such as payroll, payment processes, and general expenses.

Handles All Bills and Invoices

Not all bookkeepers are responsible for handling bills and invoices, but it is becoming a more commonly expected part of the job. By handling bills and invoices, bookkeepers can more easily keep track of finances.

Prepares Financial Statements for a Business

Since bookkeepers have access to all of a business’ financial records, it makes sense that they are tasked with preparing financial statements. The most common statements bookkeepers prepare include income and profit-loss statements, cash flow statements, and a balance sheet.

Essential Bookkeeper Skills

Technologically Savvy

Bookkeepers will be required to know how to easily navigate a variety of software programs. Different businesses use different programs, but most will have records of their finances buried in a few different programs. Bookkeepers need to know how to pull out that information and make it more clear.

Good with Numbers

Since bookkeepers work with finances, being good with numbers is an absolute must. While calculators are available everywhere, sometimes it is quicker to do simple math in your head while preparing financial statements.

Great Data Entry Skills

A huge part of bookkeeping involves entering data into various programs. Being able to type quickly and enter data effectively helps bookkeepers do their jobs easier and better. These skills also impress employers when listed on a resume.

Bookkeeper Salaries and Job Outlook

As a bookkeeper, the lowest salary you can expect is around $25,000 per year. However, the average annual salary for bookkeepers in the United States is $41,230 per year, and some even earn over $60,000 per year. The more experience you have, the higher your salary will be.

Due to new technology and the rise of virtual assistants, the demand for bookkeepers is expected to decline four percent by 2028. While many businesses will likely not feel comfortable switching from bookkeepers to new technology, it is very likely that quite a few will. By eliminating a bookkeeper from the payroll, businesses will save a bit of money, so using new technology as a replacement is a tempting decision.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Bookkeeper?

To start out as a bookkeeper, you can apply for jobs right out of high school. Oftentimes, you won’t spend any time at all to become a bookkeeper.

However, if you plan on advancing your career, you will need to earn an associate or bachelor’s degree, which can take two to four years. This can be done while you work, which means it may take a bit longer.

How to Become a Bookkeeper: A Step by Step Guide

Step 1: Earn a High School Diploma or Equivalent

Simply earning a high school diploma is all you need to start out as a bookkeeper. If for any reason you are unable to earn a diploma, most employers will accept an equivalent to one, like a GED, instead. Applying for bookkeeping jobs right out of high school is a great way to jumpstart your career.

Step 2: Consider an Education Path

If you are interested in bookkeeping long-term, you will want to consider an education path. Some bookkeepers attend community colleges to earn certifications or associate degrees, while others choose to pursue bachelor’s or even master’s degrees. Depending on how far you wish to advance your career, an associate degree or bachelor’s degree is often the best middle ground.

Step 3: Get On-the-Job Training

Bookkeeping is one of those jobs that is easiest to learn on-the-job. If you are able to work while you earn a degree, you can learn both the academic side of the job and the actual hands-on side. Learning on the job also helps you to gain experience alongside an education, making it time-efficient. This is a great way to prepare for the certification exam.

Step 4: Take a Certification Exam

After gaining two years of experience as a bookkeeper, you are eligible for the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers certification exam. Earning a bookkeeping certification is the best way to show future employers that you would be a valuable addition to their team.

Should You Become a Bookkeeper in 2020?

For anyone good with numbers and organization, bookkeeping could be a relatively easy way to make money. Though bookkeeping jobs are expected to decline in the next few years, there will still be plenty of positions available for you. So, if you think bookkeeping is right for you, we say go for it.


What degree does a bookkeeper need?
Bookkeepers should earn an associate or bachelor’s degree in accounting.
Is becoming a certified bookkeeper worth it?
Yes, becoming a certified bookkeeper is worth it because clients will feel more comfortable with, and therefore more likely to hire you.
How do bookkeepers get clients?
Most bookkeepers advertise like any other business and ask clients, friends, and family for referrals.
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