What Does It Take to Be a Bookkeeper?

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Bookkeepers are responsible for performing basic accounting duties such as balancing the general ledger, keeping track of financial reports and verifying the accuracy of financial documents. There are no formal licenses or certificates required to become a bookkeeper, but successful bookkeepers typically complete at least a 2-year accounting program. Here's what you need to become a bookkeeper.

Things You'll Need

  • High school diploma
  • Strong interest in finance and economics
  • Some clerical experience in the field
  • Complete high school courses in accounting and business. Taking high school courses such as basic accounting, business management and marketing can provide a solid foundation for continuing studies as a bookkeeper.

  • Complete at least a two-year degree program in accounting or finance. Many technical and community colleges offer associate's degrees in accounting, which can help you learn the basic principles and methods of accounting and bookkeeping.

  • Complete an internship or work-study program in accounting. If you are enrolled in college, you may be eligible for school credit while completing a work-study program. These opportunities can give you preliminary experience in the field.

  • Learn how to use accounting software. The most commonly used software include QuickBooks, Peachtree and NetSuite. These are used in both small and large businesses.

  • Contact accounting firms for job openings. Many companies hire bookkeepers as accounting assistants who can then complete their accounting degree to become certified public accountants. If you are interested in making accounting a long-term career path, working as an assistant or bookkeeper for an accounting firm can be a step toward success in the field.

  • Take continuing education classes to refine your skills and keep up with changes in the accounting industry. Many colleges conduct workshops and seminars for accounting professionals; these give you a chance to improve your skills and learn about changes in the industry.

Tips & Warnings

  • Having an associate's degree in accounting is attractive to employers interested in hiring bookkeepers.
  • Focus on math, finance and basic accounting classes during high school for a well-rounded education before college.
  • Experience in the field of accounting or bookkeeping is more valuable than an education alone.
  • Becoming a public notary can also be an attractive asset for a bookkeeper; many bookkeepers are in charge of notarizing financial documents on a regular basis and being a notary can speed up the process.
  • Online bookkeeping degree programs can help you pursue an accounting career on your own time.
  • You will need to learn at least one accounting software to succeed as a bookkeeper; almost all businesses use computers for record-keeping and analyzing financial documents.
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