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7 Min. Read

How to Become a Bookkeeper: A Step By Step Guide (2022 Edition)

How to Become a Bookkeeper: A Step By Step Guide

Did you know that you can learn how to become a bookkeeper in less than one year with no experience? It’s true. This makes bookkeeping a popular choice for those without degrees or those ready for a career change.

Learning how to become a bookkeeper is also a great career choice if you like the idea of working remotely.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps needed to become a bookkeeper and start your own bookkeeping business.

Here’s What We’ll Cover:

Can I Really Become a Bookkeeper Without Qualifications?

Bookkeepers Vs. Accountants

How Do I Get Started in Bookkeeping?

Step 1: Determine if You Want to Work From Home

Step 2: Gain bookkeeping skills

Step 3: Get First-Hand Bookkeeping Experience

Step 4: Research Bookkeeping Certifications

Become a Bookkeeper From Home

More Resources on Small Business Accounting

Can I Really Become a Bookkeeper Without Qualifications?

Many people confuse accounting and bookkeeping. To be an accountant, you generally need education requirements like a bachelor's degree in accounting. To be a bookkeeper, you don't. You can even become a bookkeeper fresh out of high school.

Bookkeepers Vs. Accountants

Bookkeepers do more administrative tasks, like constantly updating and maintaining financial transactions and preparing financial reports.

Accountants are more like financial strategists. An accountant is the one to help the business owner make sense of their numbers, generate financial documents, and plan for the upcoming tax period.

How Do I Get Started in Bookkeeping?

To get started in bookkeeping, all you need are a few basic skills. These don’t require you to go to school or gain any special training, but they may be skills you’ll need to develop over time.

These skills can help set you up for success as a bookkeeper:

  • Math skills: You’ll regularly produce and maintain accurate financial reports for clients. Although technology does a lot of the calculations for you, basic math skills will help you determine if the numbers generated by the software are reasonable or if an error has occurred.
  • Computer skills: You’ll regularly use accounting software, bookkeeping software, and some form of spreadsheets like Excel.
  • Time management skills: You’ll often have to go from client to client.
  • Attention to detail: Your day-to-day tasks will include regularly recording financial transactions where even being a couple of dollars off can be problematic. The data you input needs to be 100% compliant and accurate so that your client is able to do tax returns easily.

You'll be dealing with a lot of financial data and numbers in this career path. If you’re not a numbers person, it may be worth it to practice some basic accounting and math skills on your own to prepare for this type of career.

Step 1: Determine if You Want to Work From Home

As a bookkeeper, you’ll have three options:

  • Work as an employee in the office
  • Work as a virtual bookkeeping employee
  • Work as a virtual bookkeeper by starting your own bookkeeping business

If you want to become a bookkeeper and also start a bookkeeping business, there are a few things to consider.

Being Your Own Boss

As a business owner, you’ll have startup costs to consider. These include:

  • Bookkeeping software
  • Registering your business
  • Marketing expenses

As an independent business owner, you’ll have to learn how to do your freelancing taxes too.

Benefits of this option include potentially fewer hours, choosing how many clients you work with, and the freedom to partner with bookkeeping companies to free up even more time.

Working as an Employee

This is a great route to gain some real-world experience as you become a bookkeeper and, potentially, a bookkeeping business owner. Previous work experience makes finding clients as a bookkeeping business owner much easier.

Bookkeeping jobs are flexible, so if you hate telecommuting, you can still work from home by looking for remote bookkeeping jobs.

Step 2: Gain bookkeeping skills

Some bookkeeping skills you’ll need to begin developing as you learn how to become a bookkeeper include:

  • Accounting software proficiency
  • Personal and business finance basics
  • Basics of tax returns
  • Financial reports

The good news is that you can do bookkeeping training from the comfort of your home. There are a lot of cheap bookkeeping courses online and a lot of free content too. You can find bookkeeping courses on standard bookkeeping work tools like accounting software and financial reports.

Although you don't need a bachelor's degree, it can make you more competitive. Only 12% of entry-level bookkeepers have a bachelor’s degree, so having one is an easy way to gain an advantage. Consider a bachelor's degree in accounting, business administration, or finance.

Step 3: Get First-Hand Bookkeeping Experience

Once you’ve had some bookkeeping training, you’re ready for real-world bookkeeping jobs or experience.

Finding Work as an Employee

Search through popular job sites. Pay attention to the job description to identify which jobs are remote bookkeeping jobs and which are in-house.

Other ways to get valuable bookkeeping experience and on-the-job training is through an internship. You can then learn how to use multiple accounting software programs and work tools on the job. Internships can also provide ways for you to get your foot in the door with a specific organization.

Find job opportunities and internships through job boards, your university’s networks, and by asking around.

Finding Clients for Your Bookkeeping Business

Never underestimate the power of word-of-mouth advertising. Mostly every business could find value in having someone look after their financial books and records. Spread the word.

Another way to find clients is through marketing yourself. Follow these tips:

  • Niche down: Choose to focus on a specific industry. This makes you stand out from the crowd if down correctly. Each industry has unique financial challenges when it comes to financial activities, so niching down allows you to become an expert to certain businesses quicker.
  • Write blogs: Write blogs that answer popular questions potential clients would have about bookkeeping to demonstrate your expertise.
  • Use LinkedIn: Become active in making connections and interacting with potential clients. Demonstrate your expertise by providing insightful posts, engaging with potential clients and their posts, and optimizing key sections of your profile.

Step 4: Research Bookkeeping Certifications

Once you've learned how to become a bookkeeper and have two years of work experience, you can become a certified bookkeeper. Becoming a certified bookkeeper requires you to pass an exam to get a bookkeeping certificate.

Becoming a certified bookkeeper not only enhances your credibility, but increases your earning potential too.

One organization to look into is The American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers. They provide bookkeeping certifications and training, which can officially make you a Certified Bookkeeper.

Another route to take is to look into the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers’ online Uniform Bookkeeper Certification Exam, which will also allow you to earn a bookkeeping certification to be a Certified Public Bookkeeper. You can take this exam from anywhere, as long as you have a reliable internet connection.

These exams test you on your knowledge around analyzing business transactions, payroll taxes, financial statements, and more.

Taking software-specific certifications can also enhance your credibility. These will help prove your expertise on specific accounting and bookkeeping software to clients.

Become a Bookkeeper From Home

As you can see, the steps on how to become a bookkeeper are quite simple. Every bookkeeping skill you need to become a bookkeeper can be found from the comfort of your own home.

Enjoy the idea of being your own boss? Or still wondering if it’s for you? If so, check out this guide on how to start a bookkeeping business.

More Resources on Small Business Accounting