what is a bookkeeper?

A bookkeeper is a person who manages financial records. Some may still write each transaction down in an actual book, but in modern times, many of the "books" you keep will be digital files. You keep track of every time money is spent and every time money is received. Your job may also include receiving and storing financial documents such as invoices and receipts. In addition to creating financial statements, some bookkeepers also do things such as managing payroll or auditing accounts.

fields that use bookkeepers

If an industry spends or makes any money, they need a bookkeeper. Every business from fashion designers to sports bars to aerospace manufacturers uses bookkeepers. Bookkeepers might work for small local businesses or large, international corporations. Since this job is so essential to managing a business, there are many different types of bookkeeping jobs to choose from.

bookkeepers vs. accountants

These two jobs are often mixed up because they both involve a similar focus on managing a company's finances. However, bookkeepers are essentially a specialized form of accountant that focuses on all the small details of finances. Accountants often look at big-picture financial trends while bookkeepers focus on collecting, sorting, and analyzing data. Bookkeepers handle day-to-day financial tracking and record keeping. They often need less formal certifications than an accountant and may report to an accountant supervisor.

Would working as a bookkeeper suit your ability to keep accurate and thorough records? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in a bookkeeper role.

bookkeeper jobs near you

average bookkeeper salary

One of the great things about being a bookkeeper is that you can get a very respectable salary without needing a lot of lengthy training. This job pays comparably to many other mid-level office positions. Those who get paid on an hourly basis make an average of $21.20 per hour. While there are part-time jobs, if you work a full-time salary, your average annual wages are roughly $44,100.

man in a library
man in a library

types of bookkeeper

There are different types of bookkeepers based on the different types of records they keep. Some bookkeepers handle all departments while others at bigger companies may only focus on one area. Potential types of bookkeeping include keeping track of:

  • accounts receivable
  • accounts payable
  • inventory
  • sales
  • purchasing
  • payroll
  • owner's equity
  • petty cash

working as a bookkeeper

If you're interested in bookkeeping, it's helpful to learn what the job's daily responsibilities are like. Here's what you can expect when you start working as a bookkeeper.


bookkeeper skills and education

Bookkeeping tends to have fairly flexible educational requirements. Many employers will hire people without a college degree, and you aren't legally required to have any sort of license before becoming a bookkeeper. The only firm requirement is that you have a high school diploma or GED. This degree shows you have the requisite mathematical and reading skills to perform the job.

The amount of experience you need depends on the job. Entry-level jobs often hire people with no experience and train them on-site. Some upper-level jobs where you don't have a direct supervisor will require more experience. These positions may require around two years of bookkeeping experience.

Though you can find many bookkeeping jobs without a college degree, having an associate's degree or bachelor's degree makes you a lot more competitive. Many employers are particularly interested in bookkeepers with degrees in business, finance, or accounting. Optional certifications from reputable organizations also make you stand out. Having a Certified Bookkeeper designation or a Certified Public Bookkeeper certification is very useful.

skills and competencies

Successful bookkeepers tend to be analytic, focused people who can easily pay attention to even the smallest details. To perform well at your job, you need these skills.

  • mathematical skills: Though software will handle a lot of calculations for you, you still need to fully understand concepts like addition and subtraction. Mathematical skills make it easier to quickly estimate things and tell at a glance if a ledger is incorrect.
  • technological skills: Modern bookkeepers spend a lot of time working with computer software. You'll need to understand programs like Microsoft Excel and QuickBooks.
  • attention-to-detail: You need to be able to focus on small details and stay focused even when performing repetitive tasks. Good bookkeepers are meticulous record-keepers who put a lot of effort into ensuring all records are correct.
  • organizational skills: To avoid any issues, you should have excellent organizational skills. Good bookkeepers can organize numbers, documents, files, and more.
  • time management: Many bookkeepers work somewhat independently. You'll need to be able to sit by yourself and assign yourself goals that ensure you finish all your work in a timely manner.
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smiling woman

FAQs about working as a bookkeeper

Here you will find answers to the most frequently asked questions about bookkeepers.

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