Do you like working with numbers and working from home? How would you like to hear about a work from home career that can pay you up to $75/hour?
Well if the answer is yes, today we’ve got a treat for you!
In this post, we’re highlighting everything you need to know about becoming a bookkeeper, even with no prior experience.
We’ll explore the role’s responsibilities, the knowledge and skills you’ll need to succeed, and how you can create a bookkeeping career and business on your own terms.
What does a bookkeeper actually do?
Behind every business is a sharp, detail-oriented individual who keeps track of the company’s financial activity, from sales, purchases, payroll, and more. This individual is known as the bookkeeper, and they hold a critical role within the organization.
The role of a bookkeeper can vary between organizations, but generally speaking, they manage the following tasks and duties:
- Managing records about purchases and sales
- Tracking outstanding bills due to vendors
- Tracking and managing invoices from customers
- Making payments on any loans an organization holds
- Running payroll
Regardless of the company size or industry, a bookkeeper is a lucrative position. If you are organized, task and detail-oriented, analytical, and driven by numbers, this can be a fantastic career path with unlimited growth potential.
What is the difference between a bookkeeper and an accountant?
While some organizations may hold one or the other, large businesses typically employ a bookkeeper and an accountant. Smaller companies lump all the tasks into one role, which works fine on a smaller scale.
For larger companies, both positions are required to track and manage the financial aspect of the business properly.
The main difference between a bookkeeper and an accountant is in their daily roles and educational background. Let’s explore those components here.
The Role of a Bookkeeper
As mentioned, bookkeepers mainly focus on administrative tasks, including the following:
- Running and managing payroll
- Transaction recording in the master ledger
- Monthly statement reconciling
- Handling accounts receivable and payable (sending invoices, paying vendors)
- Financial reports, like profit and loss statements
The Role of an Accountant
Accountants, on the other hand, provide high-level financial and tax advice to businesses of all sizes. An accountant and a bookkeeper may work together during tax season or when reviewing certain financial documents, but the accountant is not usually responsible for the day-to-day money-related tasks.
They are, however, responsible for the following:
- Filing tax returns
- Providing financial advice
- Applying for business loans
- Setting financial goals and strategies
Another critical difference between bookkeepers and accountants is their educational background. Most accountants hold a financial degree from a four-year university. Some have a highly esteemed CPA (Certified Public Accountant) license, one of the top qualifications in the field.
This level of education and expertise allows accountants to provide the best guidance and advice based on their understanding of financials, business, and the economy.
While many bookkeepers hold Bachelor’s degrees and certifications, many companies don’t require a college education. Some will provide training and courses for the right candidate. It’s often more about the soft skills a person possesses than their education.
Becoming a Bookkeeper: Everything You Need to Know
Curious about becoming a bookkeeper? This section will provide everything you need to know about entering this career, how to rise to the top and the skills you’ll need along the way.
Can I really become a bookkeeper with no experience?
Yes, it’s entirely possible to become a bookkeeper without any experience or training in the role! Many companies are more focused on finding candidates who are eager to learn and are open to being taught.
An entry-level bookkeeping position will provide you with all the skills and knowledge you need to be successful in the role for your entire career.
Someone within the organization will spend a lot of time teaching you the ropes, from internal financial software to company policies, procedures, and essential technical skills.
You will gain a wealth of knowledge in this role from the beginning; you just have to be open to learning new skills.
Do my previous experience or qualifications count?
Depending on your skills, certain qualifications can certainly help when you’re interviewing for a bookkeeping role.
Typical transferable skills and experience include:
- Sending invoices
- Managing a budget
- Data entry
- Inventory management
- Spreadsheet experience
- Computer skills
Even if these skills were acquired in different roles or industries, many employers will consider them transferable and will make you even more qualified for the bookkeeper role.
If the bookkeeping role you are applying for is entry-level, many employers may be looking for candidates they can train and shape themselves.
So, whether you have prior experience or not, there is still a robust opportunity to find a role that fits your needs and interests.
What skills do I need to make it as a bookkeeper?
There are two categories of skills, known as hard and soft skills, that many companies take into consideration when hiring for any role. Let’s discuss the hard and soft skills that will help you land a bookkeeper job you love.
Hard Skills for Bookkeepers
Hard skills are defined as technical or hands-on skills that an individual has acquired through experience, courses, or training. Hard skills are the relevant, measurable abilities you bring to the table for any job.
For a bookkeeper, some valuable hard skills include the following:
- Data entry
- General ledger management
- Running payroll
- Reconciling bank statements
- Accounts payable and receivable
- Knowledge of spreadsheet software
Valuable Soft Skills for Bookkeepers
Many people have certain characteristics and traits, known as soft skills, that make them great potential bookkeepers.
Some soft skills don’t come from experience; they’re often ingrained or developed naturally, including the following:
While these soft skills can be further developed and strengthened through training and education, some people are just innately stronger in these areas.
Companies look for candidates with these particular soft skills as they interview for a bookkeeper with this understanding. Almost anyone can be trained to use software or learn how to manage a general ledger, but some personality traits and characteristics simply can’t be taught.
Why do bookkeepers need soft skills? In this role, you’ll work with several colleagues, vendors, and customers. Clear communication is one of the most critical skills a bookkeeper can have.
The ability to problem-solve and find solutions for different financial situations is a highly valuable skill for any employee.
Training Courses for Aspiring Bookkeepers
Training and education are a vital part of finding success as a bookkeeper, whether you’ve landed your first role or you want to complete training before applying. Fortunately, there are many courses and educational resources you can leverage as you begin your career as a bookkeeper.
Here are some of the most popular online courses that can help you prepare for a career in bookkeeping.
Bookkeeper Launch Review
This is a course we recommend highly. Ben Robinson, CPA, launched the program in 2015.
It has over 15,000 students and counting, and a 5 star A+ rating with the BBB. It also comes with a money back guarantee.
You can read our detailed Bookkeeper Launch review.
Intuit Academy Bookkeeping Certificate
Launch your bookkeeping career by completing Intuit Academy’s bookkeeping certificate in just two months. Attendees can learn and navigate at their own pace and develop the foundational skills to be successful, profitable bookkeepers.
Pros of this course:
- Available in 8 languages
- Professional-level training included
- Beginner-level course
- 100% online
Cons of this course:
- Passing an exam is required to achieve certification
- The $200 price may be steep for some individuals
Udemy Bookkeeping Courses
For entry-level bookkeepers, Udemy provides many basic courses to learn the common concepts behind bookkeeping, utilizing popular tools and software, and completing basic tasks.
Pros of these course options:
- Designed for entry-level bookkeepers
- Over 40 lectures and hands-on learning concepts
- Cover topics like basic concepts, starting a business, using Excel, and more
Cons of these course options:
- A variety of courses may overwhelm those just starting out
- Not as targeted to beginners; some courses may be too advanced
As you embark on your bookkeeping career, remember that continued education and training are pivotal to your success. Whether you’re just starting or want to increase your value as an employee, continued education is essential!
How much can I make as a bookkeeper?
Not only is bookkeeping a rewarding career you can do from home, but it’s also a highly profitable career path.
According to Indeed, the average salary for a bookkeeper in the US is $17.73 per hour, which adds up to $35,460 annually. This is an average estimation based on bookkeepers who work for a company and are on their payroll.
If you develop your bookkeeping skills and market yourself properly, becoming a freelance bookkeeper is a great option to set your own rates and hours. More experienced bookkeepers charge anywhere from $24 to $75 an hour, increasing the annual income to $49,920 – $124,800. Not bad!
Keep in mind that freelance bookkeepers have to pay their own taxes, and there are many other factors involved in running a freelance business. However, if running your own business sounds appealing, the bookkeeper route offers excellent financial freedom.
How to Increase Your Value (and Rates!) as a Bookkeeper
Like in any industry, there are steps you can take to increase your value as an employee or a freelance bookkeeper. In doing so, you’ll be able to ask for a raise or justify higher rates to your clients. Here’s how you can increase your value:
1. Continued education
Pursuing new skills and expertise as a bookkeeper will only improve your skill set and value. The expertise you can gain from these courses can equip you with skills that you can apply throughout your career, even if you pursue other roles aside from a bookkeeper.
From payroll to reconciling bank statements or managing accounts receivable and payable, relevant certifications and courses will increase your value and appeal to clients or your current employer. You’ll gain practical and applicable skills, showing your commitment to the role in any capacity.
As a freelance bookkeeper or an in-house employee, building a network of like-minded individuals in your field can help your career grow immensely.
If you’re a freelancer, you may feel isolated in a virtual setting, so networking with other freelancers can help you feel more supported. If you work in-house, you can meet other employees and discuss everyday struggles, seek advice, and collaborate on ideas.
Networking can improve your knowledge base by increasing access to industry insights, trends, compliance updates, and best practices. Networking with bookkeepers who are farther along in their careers can provide you with a valuable mentor who can provide guidance and support.
Lastly, networking can open many doors in your professional career. Whether you are hunting for your next gig or not, you can find new prospects and job opportunities in networking situations.
3. Offer Additional Services
As you become well-versed in the world of finance, you can offer add-on services to your bookkeeping business for new and existing clients. These can include business consulting, planning, and forecasting, among many others. Add-on services increase your value and showcase your experience and knowledge in the field.
Where can I find jobs as a bookkeeper?
For one-time projects, websites like Upwork or Fiverr are great resources to get your feet wet in bookkeeping and gain some experience. You’ll also build relationships with happy clients who can refer you to other companies and help you start building your client list.
Popular job board sites, including Indeed, FlexJobs, and LinkedIn, update daily with new bookkeeping jobs in virtual and in-person settings. For more experienced individuals, Intuit hires bookkeepers to provide their services for its small business partners.
Are there any official organizations for bookkeepers?
There are quite a few well-respected bookkeeping organizations that are almost always accepting new members!
Let’s learn about the most popular ones and the value they can bring to your professional career and business.
The American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB) is the most highly esteemed bookkeeper membership in the field.
AIPB supports employed and freelance bookkeepers with job opportunities, courses, education, certifications, and up-to-date information on current trends, rules, regulations, and more. AIPB members gain access to online forums to network and find support from other bookkeepers.
The National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers (NACPB) supports, trains, and certifies bookkeepers through membership training, education, schooling, and more.
NACPB offers robust course options so bookkeepers can advance their knowledge and skills with software and tasks, including popular payroll software, QuickBooks, Microsoft Office, and more.
The Digital Bookkeeper Association (DBA) offers an exclusive membership for entrepreneurial-focused freelance bookkeepers who want to gain the skills and prowess to run their businesses. Members gain access to potential clients, a nurturing community of other freelance bookkeepers, and a member certification to showcase their knowledge and professionalism.
FAQs: Bookkeeping with No Experience
Get all your questions answered here about starting in the bookkeeping industry.
Is bookkeeping hard for beginners?
For newcomers to bookkeeping, it’s no secret that there is a learning curve and an adjustment period as you get your hands dirty and learn the ropes.
No matter the organization, everyone has their own way of doing things, and it takes time to adapt to the expectations, learn the software, and build your skills.
Be patient with yourself; greatness takes time!
How fast can I learn bookkeeping?
If you are hired into a bookkeeping role, expect to feel confident in your position and abilities at around 5 or 6 months. At this point in the role, you’ll probably be well-versed in using accounting software, running payroll, using spreadsheets correctly, and accessing various databases.
Around six months into a position, many bookkeepers begin taking courses to expand their skills and increase their value as employees.
How do I become a bookkeeper with no experience?
The primary things you’ll need as a bookkeeper working from home are a reliable computer and internet access.
Many new bookkeepers choose to complete introductory accounting and tax courses, so they have some skills and training to leverage in job interviews or as they market themselves to potential clients.
You should also utilize online tutorials and training for QuickBooks and other accounting software programs you’ll be expected to use. If you’re marketing yourself as a freelance bookkeeper, building a website and networking are critical to finding clients and gaining referrals.
Is bookkeeping a profitable career path?
Yes! If you navigate the job hunt properly and know your worth, bookkeeping can be a very profitable career choice, regardless of your education or prior experience.
If you’re interested in starting your own bookkeeping business, you can set your desired rates and have flexible hours. Many bookkeepers choose this route after they’ve gained experience so they can have more control over their finances and daily schedules.