Have you considered becoming a bookkeeper? It’s a great career path and one that’ll always be in need.
Whether you’re in an economic boom or in a financial recession, you’ll always find clients who need to keep records of their finances. It’s a job that has a low barrier to entry and offers flexibility with work.
You can work as a freelancer, start your own business, or work for a major accounting firm.
But before you get started, you’ll need the right bookkeeper training.
Here’s what you need to know on how to become a successful bookkeeper:
1. Learn the Responsibilities
You have to first learn about the responsibilities that come with being a bookkeeper.
You can choose the level of responsibility that works best for you. At the basic level, all bookkeepers have to keep track of earnings and expenses. You can choose whether to work for individuals or businesses — or both.
You’ll be required to keep these records updated at all times. Further responsibilities might include creating financial reports for your clients. These might include graphic representations such as line graphs or pie charts.
Other responsibilities for bookkeepers include the following:
- Assisting with tax preparation and offering tax advice
- Preparing budgets for clients
- Assisting with employee payroll obligations
- Assisting in resolving financial disputes or handling discrepancies
You want to assess the level of responsibility you’re wishing to undertake. You want to decide how much time you want to learn about bookkeeping and how much time you want to dedicate to your work.
2. Formal Education
At the basic level, you have to make sure you complete your high school diploma or GED.
Without this, you won’t get taken seriously as a professional bookkeeper or entrepreneur. You don’t need a college degree to work as a bookkeeper.
However, you might consider getting a degree in Finance or Accounting to add credibility to your name. You have to look at it from your client’s point of view. Some clients will not consider hiring someone without a college degree.
Another thing to consider is if you want to work for a company. Many companies might require their employees to have a college degree. Research companies that you’ll want to work for to see their requirements.
Whether you get a college degree or not, you want to study bookkeeping as much as possible.
Take online courses, seek an internship, etc. to gain as much knowledge and experience as you can. You can consider the bookkeeper launch program to build your skills.
You can also consider attaining formal certification. For example, you can become a Certified Bookkeeper through an official bookkeeping organization.
The two most popular ones in the United States are The American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers and the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers.
Once again, certification is not mandatory. But it might lend you more credibility among your clients or employers.
3. Start as a Freelancer
Before you find a bookkeeping job or start your business, you want to start as a freelancer.
This is a great way to get your feet wet and to practice your craft. You can start by offering to keep financial records for your friends and family. If anyone in your network has a small business, offer to keep track of their financial records.
You can also use freelance platforms such as Fiverr to offer your record-keeping services to entrepreneurs. This will let you build your skills as well as your credibility.
Once you become an expert at record-keeping, you can consider moving on to other services. This is when you can decide what other responsibilities you want to take on as a bookkeeper.
4. Learning Spreadsheets
The next part of your training has to involve learning about spreadsheets. You should learn to master QuickBooks, Microsoft Excel, Apple Numbers, and Google Sheets.
You’ll likely spend most of your time using these applications for bookkeeping. Your clients or employer will want you to use these applications to keep track of their finances.
Apart from basic record-keeping, make sure you also learn different functions.
For example, here are some key functions you should learn with these applications:
- How to calculate numerical values within a column or row
- How to automatically convert currencies as you enter numerical values
- Calculate daily, weekly, monthly averages
- Calculate revenues, profits, and losses
- How to organize accounts between workbooks
These are just a few examples of what you should learn with spreadsheet applications. You have to try to master different applications to help you become a better bookkeeper.
5. Develop an Attention to Detail
As a bookkeeper, you have the responsibility of managing someone else’s financial records. As such, there’s no room for errors as the consequences can be dire.
You need to develop attention to detail in your work. You want to make sure that your final product is always accurate.
You should start by keeping records of your own finances. At least once per month, you want to look over your records to check for accuracy. You should keep a record of every earning and expense.
You want to make sure you check if you make any errors. If so, keep track of how many errors you made. Reduce your error rate as much as possible before you start offering your services.
Here are some common bookkeeping errors you need to focus on:
- Forgetting to include an earning or expense
- Not categorizing your finances correctly
- Forgetting to include tax deductions
- Missing out on deadlines
- Not detailing the source of an expense or earning
Once you manage to keep your finances in order, you’ll be able to help others with their records.
When you start working as a freelancer, make sure you ask your clients to give you honest feedback.
If you start helping your friends and family, you can ask them to point out any errors. This initial feedback and constructive criticism will help you improve as a bookkeeper.
6. Learn Budgeting Skills
Not every client will request this, but it’s imperative that you learn how to create a budget.
One of the main reasons why individuals and companies hire bookkeepers is to plan their budgets.
You need to learn how to set a budget for a project. For example, let’s assume your client wants to set a budget for planning a banquet. You have to assign a budget and make sure that your client sticks within it.
As a general rule, your client will want to spend as little as possible without compromising on value. You’ll have to do your research on the best materials that won’t break the bank.
You can then prepare a budget for your client of how much they should spend. You should provide a breakdown of how much they should spend on each category.
Here’s an example of a budget for planning an event:
- Total Budget: $2K
- Room Reservation: $200
- Dinnerware/Tableware: $400
- Catering: $700
- Decorations: $200
- Entertainment: $400
- Miscellaneous: $100
As a bookkeeper, it’s also your responsibility to make sure that your clients stick within their budget. You can help them cultivate the financial discipline to increase their revenue and profit.
7. Learn About Taxes
This is a boring and strenuous task that many bookkeepers would rather avoid! But to be a competitive bookkeeper, you want to learn about taxes.
You should study the tax code to see how it can benefit your clients or employer. You want to see how they can reduce their tax obligations legally.
You want to understand any changes in the tax code and offer consultation to your clients. They should know about how any change to the tax code can affect their business.
The best way to start is to understand taxes for your own finances. You want to learn how to prepare tax returns on your own. You want to learn how to reduce your own tax obligations first. You want to learn how to prepare tax returns on your own, such as determining the VAT returns. You want to learn how to reduce your own tax obligations first.
8. Learn How to Network
Finally, a successful bookkeeper needs to learn how to build a network. Whether you want to start a bookkeeping business or find an employer, you’ll have to know how to market your services.
Take the time to improve your interpersonal skills, public speaking skills, and personal marketing skills.
You should work to enhance your LinkedIn profile to highlight your bookkeeping skills. You can also consider setting up a website or landing page that promotes your services.
Make sure you attend networking events, career fairs, workshops, and seminars where you can meet potential clients. These are the best places to promote your services as well.
The more professionals you network with, the more opportunities you’ll receive as a bookkeeper!
Start Your Bookkeeper Training
Now you’re ready to start your bookkeeper training and work toward becoming a professional bookkeeper!
Follow the steps in this guide to build your bookkeeping skills and to acquire your first clients. If you focus on education and working as a freelancer, you’ll build up to starting a business or finding a great job!
Please share this guide with anyone else interested in becoming a bookkeeper. This is a lucrative and rewarding career and we need more talented bookkeepers!
You can also read more articles on entrepreneurship and careers on our website!