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How to Become a Bookkeeper

Career News August 22, 2013

If you have good mathematical abilities along with organizational skills, you might want to consider a career in bookkeeping. Small and medium sized businesses are on the rise. Proprietors rarely have the time or incentive to handle all the meticulous details of accurate bookkeeping. Large businesses often hire several bookkeepers, assigning them to different departments, even calling them accounting clerks instead of bookkeepers.

Starting Points for Book Keepers

Large businesses may assign a single task, such as handling only the accounts receivable, accounts payable or keeping records of the money spent by the company. Small and medium sized businesses, however, may give their bookkeeper full responsibility for the company’s financial records.

It’s not required that you have more than a high school diploma to become a bookkeeper. Some companies will hire and train a promising candidate as long as the person shows good math skills, and is detail oriented. Generally, however, most companies require completion of accounting courses and at least an associate’s degree in business or accounting.

As a bookkeeper, you should have a complete understanding of accounting terms. You should know the basic differences between the five types of accounts; assets, liabilities, equity, income and expenses. You must be able to complete financial statements by the 10th of every month. You must be willing to make a strong commitment to the business that is hiring you.

Job Details and Valuable Skills

Increasingly, companies desire a bookkeeper who is computer literate. Not only should you know the basics of the company’s bookkeeping software, you should be familiar with Microsoft Word, Excel, email, networks, and data backup procedures.

The basic job of the bookkeeper is verifying and entering the information concerning the company’s transactions into a ledger, using the double entry debit-credit system. The bookkeeper keeps an account of how much money was received, the amount that was spent, how much the company owes, and records of what other companies and individuals owe the business. You may also be required to handle the payroll and send invoice statements to customers, if you work for a small or medium sized company.

You must have a full comprehension of job costs. You may be required to handle all the details of tracking job costs item by item in order to give accurate, reliable information on the exact costs entailed in a company project. For small and medium sized businesses, bookkeepers are a vital member of a team. The bookkeeper should have good communication skills and be able to discuss with the employer any misunderstood items of business. Clients will often request further clarification when reviewing your work. As a bookkeeper, you should also be willing to further your education. You are a vital part of what creates a successful business. By enhancing your skills with self-study or additional formal accounting classes, you can prepare yourself for business’ growth and remain up to date on new policies in business procedures.

A good bookkeeper uses knowledge and skill to take reasonable care that all tax laws are applied to the business. Other qualities desired in a good bookkeeper are honesty, integrity, independence and confidentiality. By meeting the challenges of a good bookkeeper, you can become part of the growth of a successful business, with many other career opportunities in front of you.

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  • Makes it possible for students to earn a bachelor’s degree in 2.5 years or an associate’s in 1.5 years by providing a year-round schedule.
  • Offers externships and clinical experience that help students prepare for life after they graduate.
  • Has 10 campuses across the mid-Atlantic, plus online degree programs.
Good for Working Adults
  • Online Courses
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1 Program(s) Found
  • Online bachelor's and master's level Business programs are available.
  • Courses are designed to teach practical business solutions, with a career-focused curriculum.
  • Students can study in areas such as business, applied management, and business administration.
  • Experienced professionals equip students with a working knowledge of marketing, financing, accounting, and sales.
  • Students who have graduated high school in or before 2015 are eligible to apply.
  • Online Courses
3 Program(s) Found
  • Average class size is 25, allowing for more one-on-one time with instructors.
  • Has a 97% employment rate among available graduates.
  • All  graduates receive Lifetime Employment  Assistance—free and forever.
  • Michigan's largest independent college.
  • Most instructors are working professionals in the fields they teach.
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