CareerBuilder | October 13, 2017
Bookkeepers work with the financial transactions and records of business clients. These records typically include expenditure, receipts, accounts payable, accounts receivable, and profit and loss records.
Many organizations employ bookkeepers, including accounting firms, tax preparation services, and payroll organizations. However, government departments, schools, and small and medium-sized business owners from a range of industries also employ bookkeepers. Some bookkeepers dedicate themselves to working for a single client, while others work for many businesses.
What does a bookkeeper do? Recording and balancing financial transactions for an employer or client are among some of the responsibilities. While the specific responsibilities may vary from client to client, a typical bookkeeper job description includes the following tasks:
Typically, small employers and clients give their bookkeepers a significant number of responsibilities. For example, bookkeepers may process payroll for a small organization that does not maintain its own payroll department.
Bookkeepers typically work in the offices of their employers or business clients, which permits easy access to managers for questions about transactions and accounts. Bookkeepers may generally work in quiet office environments, although the pace of workflow may escalate at the end of the fiscal year and around tax time.
Some bookkeepers, however, work from their home office, a trend that is especially common for self-employed bookkeepers. These bookkeepers rely on phones and digital communication methods, such as video calls, emails, and instant messages, when they need to verify information with their clients.
Bookkeepers typically keep regular business hours, working from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or similar hours from Monday to Friday. Weekend and public holiday work is limited, although bookkeepers may need to work extended hours during busy periods, such as leading up to tax season or at the end of the fiscal year.
Most bookkeepers working for large organizations typically work full-time hours. Part-time work is more common among people who work for small and medium-sized firms. Bookkeepers who work for a number of business clients, including self-employed bookkeepers, may not keep regular full-time hours, but they are likely to be busier than bookkeepers working for a single small or medium-sized business.
Even though bookkeepers are responsible for maintaining financial records, these professionals do not need special certifications to perform their duties. A high school diploma is typically the education level required to work as a bookkeeper, especially if the candidate has studied accounting or interned at a bookkeeper's office. However, companies are increasingly looking for bookkeepers with degrees in relevant fields, including finance, accounting, and business studies.
Alternatively, a bookkeeper can gain certification through a professional organization such as the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers, AIPB. This certification can help bookkeepers gain an advantage in the job market without seeking a higher educational degree.
On-the-job training is also important for bookkeepers. All businesses have slightly different processes that bookkeepers must understand so that financial matters can be seamlessly resolved. The best bookkeepers try to follow established business practices, but they may also suggest ways to streamline these practices to improve efficiency.
Since bookkeepers do not need formal qualifications, employers may value experience over education. This value can be reflected in the higher salaries that bookkeepers receive as they gain more experience. Experienced bookkeepers may actually save businesses money because they can complete work more efficiently than recently hired bookkeepers. Once you have established yourself in your career as a bookkeeper, you should find securing new employment opportunities easier.
Bookkeepers need a variety of skills to succeed in this financial specialty. Below are some of the skills employers and business clients consider when hiring bookkeepers:
How much do bookkeepers make? This answer depends on their experience. The national median salary for bookkeepers is around $41,500 annually. Bookkeepers can look forward to their salary increasing throughout their careers in line with their growing experience.
Some U.S. cities pay their bookkeepers much more than this amount. Bookkeepers earn an average of $48,843 in San Francisco, $48,079 in Boston, and $46,000 in New York City.
Bookkeepers are classified with accounting and auditing clerks by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS. While this official body does not offer statistics for bookkeepers specifically, it predicts job opportunities for bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks will fall by 8 percent between 2014 and 2024. This decrease will lead to about 148,700 fewer bookkeepers, accounting clerks, and auditing clerks in the United States within the stated time span.
Changes in technology that allow business owners without financial backgrounds to handle their own bookkeeping needs are expected to influence this decrease. The drop in available positions means bookkeepers may need more experience and higher qualifications to distinguish themselves from future job candidates.
What does a bookkeeper do after several years? The individual might remain working as a bookkeeper or pursue other opportunities, such as working as an accountant. Many of the roles of a bookkeeper and accountant overlap, especially for bookkeepers working with small to medium-sized businesses, which can often make the transition an easy one to make. However, accountants tend to focus more on reporting and business analysis and processes than bookkeepers.
While accountants do not need formal qualifications, most professionals who hire accountants look for candidates with a bachelor's or master's degree in accounting or a related field. With the rise of online degrees, many bookkeepers study for this qualification while working in full-time positions.
The skills bookkeepers develop also readily translate to positions such as financial supervisor, financial analyst, and financial manager.
A job as a bookkeeper is an ideal choice for people passionate about helping businesses better manage their finances. With positions available in almost every business sector, aspiring bookkeepers have the freedom to work in almost any industry. Begin your search for a bookkeeping job today.
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