How To Become a Bookkeeper

Brandi Glass
9 min read
Person Counting Cash Money

Bookkeepers organize and maintain financial transactions for small and large businesses, government agencies, and nonprofits. Your role ensures the accuracy of financial records to help companies make the right calls during critical decision-making processes.

If you always wanted to know how to become a bookkeeper but are unsure how to start, read on. We will delve into bookkeeping, exploring salary expectations, essential skills for the position, and critical insights to prepare you for success in this in-demand career.

What is a Bookkeeper?

A bookkeeper is a financial professional who maintains the day-to-day financial transactions of businesses. They help record and organize financial data like income, expenses, and invoicing to ensure compliance with financial regulations.

Bookkeepers also generate financial reports, reconcile accounts, and prepare essential documents for tax filing purposes. Their attention to detail and expertise in financial record-keeping provides valuable insights to help businesses make informed decisions and maintain healthy financial positions.

Bookkeepers and accountants are different, although their roles may overlap in some areas. While it is true that both professions deal with financial records and data, there are key differences that set them apart. These include their overall responsibilities, education requirements, and their scope of work.

What Does a Bookkeeper Do?

Bookkeepers take on multiple financial tasks essential for maintaining accurate and organized records. Primarily, they systematically record financial transactions like sales, purchases, and payments. They also classify and categorize transactions to facilitate the analysis and reporting processes.

Another role that bookkeepers take on is reconciling bank statements and accounts to ensure data accuracy. They may also assist accountants by handling financial statements to ensure compliance with financial regulations. Bookkeepers also contribute to budget preparation and financial forecasting with accountants, keeping businesses safe from unsound practices or reporting discrepancies.

How to Become a Bookkeeper

Becoming a bookkeeper is not hard. The minimum educational requirement is usually a high school diploma or equivalent, with no college degree requirement for bookkeeper roles. However, a degree or certification in accounting or finance gives you a strong foundation in financial principles and practices, which are necessary for a professional role.

Next, gain practical experience by seeking internships or entry-level bookkeeping, accounting, or finance positions. This hands-on experience familiarizes you with modern bookkeeping software and tools. It helps develop your understanding of daily tasks and responsibilities.

If you want to go the extra mile, you can seek professional certifications such as Certified Bookkeeper (CB) or Certified Public Bookkeeper (CPB). They enhance your knowledge and increase your credibility and marketability to potential employers.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Bookkeeper?

It won’t take a long time to become a bookkeeper at the fundamental level. Becoming a bookkeeper takes two years if you pursue a bookkeeping degree from an accredited institution. But if you are going for a different major, such as accounting, the process takes up to four years if you take full-time courses.

How Long is Bookkeeper Training?

Two years is a standard benchmark when you want to train to become a bookkeeper.

There is no college degree requirement for bookkeeper roles in the US. You can learn from an experienced accountant or certified bookkeeper if you have no experience.

If you are considering pursuing a two or four-year degree, it decreases the time you need to “learn the ropes” and start working.

A Day in the Life of a Bookkeeper

Accountant Counting Money

As a bookkeeper, your day involves maintaining your company’s or business’s financial records. You’ll spend a significant chunk of your time reviewing transactions and financial activities. Using bookkeeping software or tools, you may also verify and record sales, purchases, expenses, and payments into the appropriate accounts.

Other duties involve reconciling bank statements and financial accounts to ensure data accuracy and detecting discrepancies. If you work for a large company, you may collaborate with accountants or financial managers to prepare budgets, forecasts, or financial reports.

Bookkeepers are also responsible for managing accounts receivable and payable, processing payroll, and ensuring timely payments to vendors and suppliers.

Bookkeeper Salary: How Much Does a Bookkeeper Make?

In this segment, we’ll cover the bookkeeper salary ranges and delve into more specific roles and how much you can make.

  • Bookkeeper Average Salary: The bookkeeper average salary is $42,726 in the United States.
  • Certified Bookkeeper Salary: A certified bookkeeper salary in the United States averages $55,000 annually.
  • Entry Level Bookkeeper Salary: The entry level bookkeeper salary in the United States starts at $32,721.
  • Senior Bookkeeper Salary: A senior bookkeeper can make up to $66,768 annually in the United States.

Bookkeeper Salary Ranges

Bookkeeper salary ranges are between $38,215 and $47,421 on average in the United States.

How Much Does a Bookkeeper Make an Hour?

The average bookkeeper salary per hour in the United States is $21.07. However, remember that this number changes depending on the company you work for and the state you live in. For example, the average bookkeeper salary in California differs from the one in Kentucky or Hawaii.

Is Becoming a Bookkeeper a Good Fit for Me?

As with all jobs that relate to finance, there are several factors to consider if you want to determine if bookkeeping is a good fit. If you have an interest in finance, math, and enjoy working with data, a bookkeeping career might be an excellent choice for you.

Bookkeeping requires meticulous attention to detail, including analytical and problem-solving skills. These skills help you identify discrepancies, reconcile accounts, and interpret financial data daily. If you enjoy more active roles and have little interest in data and numbers, being a bookkeeper may not be the best choice.

Where Can a Bookkeeper Work?

You can find employment opportunities in multiple companies and industries as a bookkeeper. Some examples include:

  • Small businesses
  • Large corporations
  • Government agencies
  • Libraries
  • Nonprofit organizations
  • Accounting firms

You can also work as an independent contractor or freelancer, offering your services on a project basis or as ongoing support. This option gives you more flexibility and control over your work-life balance and allows you to choose your clients.

Another growing trend after the COVID pandemic is remote and virtual bookkeeping positions. These roles let you work from home or other locations while you connect with clients and colleagues over video.

How to Apply for Bookkeeper Jobs

Focused Male Accountant doing Paperwork

When applying for bookkeeper jobs, always go through the bookkeeper job description to tailor your resume. But if you already have the information and don’t know where to start, try a bookkeeper sample resume from Rocket Resume.

Rocket Resume’s templates are easy to format and come in multiple templates to choose the one that fits your role best. With thousands of templates available and guaranteed to pass Applicant Tracking Systems, your CV is ready in minutes without hassles.

You can begin by researching the specific responsibilities and requirements in the bookkeeper job description for the positions you want to pursue. This step helps you identify the necessary skills and qualifications to emphasize in your bookkeeper resume and cover letter for bookkeeper positions.

A well-crafted bookkeeper resume from Rocket Resume showcases your experience, skills, and educational qualifications. To make your application stand out, consider using a bookkeeper sample resume as a guide to format and structure your own.

Include specific examples of your accomplishments and how you’ve utilized your bookkeeper skills for resume success. Quantifying your achievements, such as how much money you saved a business or how many financial discrepancies you resolved, also makes a strong impact.

Customize your cover letter for bookkeeper positions for each application, highlighting your understanding of the bookkeeper job description listed and how your skills align with the company’s needs.

Incorporating keywords from the bookkeeper job description for resume purposes into your cover letter demonstrates your attention to detail. It increases your chances of being selected for an interview.

Once you’ve prepared a strong bookkeeper resume from Rocket Resume, it’s time to focus on potential interview questions for bookkeeper positions. Research common interview questions for bookkeeper roles and practice your responses to showcase your knowledge, skills, and achievements confidently. Don’t forget to discuss your experience with specific bookkeeping software, your ability to handle confidential information, and your strategies for maintaining accurate records.

If you want to work as an independent contractor or freelancer, you must prepare a bookkeeper engagement letter. This document outlines your terms and conditions, including your responsibilities, scope of work, and fees. A well-drafted bookkeeper engagement letter is like a contract; it helps establish clear expectations and protects you and your clients. Rocket Resume Bookkeeper Template

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How to become a certified bookkeeper?

Several organizations offer bookkeeper certifications, with the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB) and the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers (NACPB) being two of the most recognized.

To become a Certified Bookkeeper (CB) through the AIPB, you need at least two years of bookkeeping experience and pass four exams covering various aspects of bookkeeping, including adjusting entries, error correction, and payroll.

You can also pursue the Certified Public Bookkeeper (CPB) from the NACPB. You must have at least one year of bookkeeping or accounting experience and successfully pass an exam covering accounting principles, practices, and applications.

How to become a bookkeeper with no experience?

While becoming a bookkeeper without experience is possible, you need to take a few initial steps to build your skills and knowledge before entering the job market.

First, consider pursuing relevant education, such as a degree or certification in accounting, finance, or a related field. While formal education is not always mandatory for bookkeeping positions, many employers value candidates with some level of academic background in the field.

Taking bookkeeping or accounting courses, either online or in-person, can help you become familiar with essential concepts, practices, and software.

As you gain experience and develop your skills, you will become a more competitive candidate for bookkeeping positions and have a better chance of launching a successful career.

How to become a bookkeeper in California?

To become a non-certified bookkeeper, you can take college courses or seek a junior position at a company to hone your skills. To be a certified bookkeeper, you must pass the AIPB exam and have at least two years of experience.

How to become a virtual bookkeeper?

If you are looking for virtual bookkeeping positions, you can use search engines to seek employers hiring remotely. You can also use software to help you work faster and maintain more accurate records as you perform your job.

How to become a freelance bookkeeper?

To become a freelance bookkeeper, build your experience to establish a strong portfolio. Then, you can advertise your services online by creating a website, establishing a solid and professional social media presence, and networking with others.

How to become a bookkeeper in Texas?

If you don’t want a certification in bookkeeping in Texas, you can seek out roles that don’t have this requirement. However, to work as a certified bookkeeper in Texas, you must pass the AITB exam and have two years of experience. Or you must present verified part-time or full-time work totaling 3,000 hours.

How to become a bookkeeper online?

To become a bookkeeper online, you can seek positions advertised on websites that call for remote bookkeeping work. Then, ensure you have the correct requirements to apply to these jobs, as some companies may require certifications or prior experience. Moreover, make sure that you have bookkeeping software experience, which increases your chances of finding a better online job and makes your work smoother with a lower likelihood of errors.

How to become a bookkeeper from home?

To become a bookkeeper from home, you must either have a practice or business or work with a company that offers remote work. If you want to open a practice, ensure your workspace at home has all the tools you need to perform your job remotely. These tools include a proper internet connection, security and antivirus software, and accounting software.

How to become a QuickBooks Live Bookkeeper?

To become a QuickBooks Live Bookkeeper, you must follow the application process outlined by Intuit, the company behind QuickBooks. As per their official site, you need the following:

  • One year of experience using QuickBooks
  • Three years or more experience in small business bookkeeping
  • Getting the QuickBooks Online ProAdvisor Certification
  • Proficiency in using computer software and keeping up to date with technology
  • Customer service experience and skills

How long does it take to become a certified bookkeeper?

Becoming a certified bookkeeper takes at least a few months or up to three years, depending on your circumstances. Pursuing the Certified Bookkeeper (CB) designation requires at least two years of full-time bookkeeping experience.

If you already have the required experience, preparing for the exams takes a few months, depending on your study schedule and commitment. The Certified Public Bookkeeper (CPB) credential requires at least one year of bookkeeping or accounting experience and to pass the exam.

Create your bookkeeper resume today with Rocket Resume!