You want to know how to become a bookkeeper. But you are confused about how to start.
It’s either because (1) you have no experience, or (2) you want to work from home.
In this blog post, I will guide you through the steps of becoming a successful bookkeeper and give you some recommendations.
Here are the things you will learn in this guide:
- What does a bookkeeper do?
- How much does a bookkeeper earn?
- What makes a good bookkeeper?
- How to become a bookkeeper with no experience
- Where to find remote bookkeeping jobs for beginners
- How to start a bookkeeping business
Before diving deeper…
What Does a Bookkeeper Do?
A bookkeeper is an accountant slash office admin of some sort.
They have a variety of responsibilities, including but not limited to, collecting, preparing, and updating information related to a business’s fiscal activities.
These may include:
- Tracking expenditures
- Handling payrolls
- Reconciling payment discrepancies
- Creating financial reports
- Updating financial records
- Paying bills
- Collecting payments on invoices
- Reimburse work-related expense
- Posting financial records in computer programs
- Placing credits and debits to accounts
- Receive receipts
- Keep accounts receivable
Bookkeepers are NOT accountants by any means.
Bookkeepers prepare financial data, while accountants interpret financial data.
Before the accountant can use financial data to make reports and determine what a business should do next, it’s the bookkeeper who ensures that these data are correct and up to date.
Therefore, bookkeeping is a great start for people who aspire to become accountants.
How Much Does a Bookkeeper Earn?
Bookkeeping does not require more education and has less difficult certification processes than accounting.
But this does not always mean bookkeepers earn less money than accountants, though that’s often the case.
Bookkeepers can earn about $20 per hour as a start.
And with additional education, training, and experience, this can increase to between $50 to $100 per hour.
The salary for a bookkeeper in the United States ranges anywhere between $40,000 to $57,000 per year.
This figure isn’t bad at all, especially if you are only starting out.
What Makes a Good Bookkeeper?
You want to know how to become a bookkeeper.
But know that bookkeeping requires certain skills and qualities that are predisposed to make you a successful professional bookkeeper.
Here are some good qualities and key skills of people who are cut out for the bookkeeping duty:
1. Good Math Skills
In bookkeeping, numbers are the name of the game.
You use numbers literally every single day.
From budget monitoring to tracking credits and debits, you must be good at moving numbers around.
If you think of yourself as a math person, then bookkeeping might just be your cup of tea.
2. Strong Attention to Detail
Bookkeepers are responsible for many important financial docs.
Hence, thoroughness and accuracy are fairly critical qualities for them.
Whether it’s to prepare or update financial statements, your ability to dot the i’s and cross the t’s at all times will get your far in the profession.
If you are someone who does not let tiny details fall through the cracks, then bookkeeping might be for you.
3. Problem Solving Skills
Problem-solving skills in bookkeeping are different.
You need to reconcile discrepancies in financial reports, closing balances in balance sheets, expenses.
And all these have to be done to a tee while you are chasing deadlines.
No compromises are allowed.
If you are someone who obsesses at evening out inconsistent numbers, then bookkeeping might be the right profession for you.
4. Strong Organizational Skills
Bookkeepers often have to juggle various tasks at once every day.
Thus, having exceptional organizational skills is something you can use to your advantage.
But we are not just talking spatial organizational skills.
We are also looking at how you are handling information properly.
5. Multitasking Skills
As mentioned, bookkeepers have to deal with different tasks every day.
Therefore, you should be comfortable doing multiple tasks throughout the workday without stressing out when you have to shift your focus.
If two or more simultaneous tasks can’t easily overwhelm you, then you might become a good bookkeeper.
Because bookkeepers are dealing with essential and sensitive business and financial information, being reliable at all times can guarantee you a successful profession.
Clients depend on bookkeepers. They trust their taxes and financials to their bookkeepers.
Mishandle it, and it’s going to cause you a lot of trouble.
7. People Management Skills
Bookkeepers work with clients, banks, government employees, etc.
Often this entails patience, understanding, and professionalism.
Being good at people management is one way to build a strong foundation for your successful bookkeeping profession or business.
How to Become a Bookkeeper (5 Methods)
Finally, we’ve come down to the gist of this post — the reason you are here.
Without further ado, here are five different ways on how to become a bookkeeper with no experience:
1. Enroll in a Complete Bookkeeping Course Online
The easiest way to become a bookkeeper is to enroll yourself in an online bookkeeping course.
Through an online course, you can learn how to become a bookkeeper from home or wherever you are in the world.
One online bookkeeping course that I highly recommend is Bookkeeper Launch by Ben Robinson.
Ben is an accounting firm owner and a veteran accountant himself.
Formerly known as Bookkeeper Business Launch, in this course, you will learn everything you need to know about bookkeeping, plus how to launch a bookkeeping business — at the comfort of your home.
So it’s not just about bookkeeping per se.
Bookkeeper Launch will also groom you for a successful six-figure business.
The course is divvied up into three main sections:
This part will teach you the basics of bookkeeping, how to brush up your bookkeeping skills, and how to earn from your bookkeeping skills.
This part will teach you how to run your bookkeeping business, understand the technologies you need, how to keep your startup costs low, and some secrets to becoming a successful bookkeeper.
This part will teach you how to find the right clients, how to deal with them, and how to close sales.
At the end of the course, you will get a bookkeeping certificate, which is very important for your next steps.
The course is self-paced and requires 58 hours to finish.
If you currently have a full-time job, you can complete the whole program in 2 months for 1 hour per day or 7 hours per week.
So far, Ben has trained over 6,000 bookkeepers since he launched the course in 2015.
And a lot of them have inspiring success stories to tell.
You can read my in-depth Bookkeeper Launch Review here.
2. Self-Educate With the Help of Online Courses
Self-education is a good way to start if you are tight on money. But it will be a very challenging and tedious undertaking.
There are ways to get self-taught knowledge. The most effective would be with the help of online education platforms like Udemy and Skillshare.
For a minimal fee, you can find short bookkeeping courses on the platforms.
However, the downside is that there’s no complete program there that will walk you through the process from A to Z.
You need to check and enroll in each and every topic, which is kind of counterintuitive and counterproductive.
These courses do give bookkeeping certificates but do not hold as much weight as enrolling yourself in a complete bookkeeping program.
But if you are really tight on money, self-education is a good start.
3. Get a Bookkeeping Certification From Professional Organizations
There are professional organizations that offer national certifications for bookkeeping.
These certifications, however, often require education and work experience.
If not, you need to pass an exam before being able to get a bookkeeping certification, whether it’s a certified bookkeeper or certified public bookkeeper.
Another way to get a bookkeeping certification is through voluntary work.
The American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB) does give certifications to people who work for at least 2 years as a full-time bookkeeper or equivalent part-time hours.
And you have to pass an exam.
Other organizations you can apply for a bookkeeping certification in the United States is the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers (NACPB).
Alternatively, you can take the Uniform Bookkeeper Certification exam online.
4. Get an Associate Degree in Bookkeeping
Getting an associate degree in bookkeeping is another way to become a bookkeeper, although this is going to take a while.
Most associate degrees in bookkeeping will require you to go through training in the core tasks, including managing the general ledger, recording financial transactions, and organizing invoices.
Getting an associate degree usually takes 2 to 3 years of training.
5. Get a Bachelor’s Degree
Getting a bachelor’s degree helps bookkeepers stand out.
Did you know?
Only 12% of bookkeepers have a bachelor’s degree.
Having a bachelor’s degree in accounting or any business-related degree helps largely impact your competence as a bookkeeper.
However, getting a bachelor’s degree takes 3 to 5 years, so it’s a long game.
Where to Find Remote Bookkeeping Jobs for Beginners
As soon as you get your bookkeeping certificate or degree, you can start looking for remote entry-level bookkeeping jobs or gigs.
Here are three ways to land your first-ever bookkeeping job:
1. Online Job Boards
Some good places to start finding remote bookkeeping jobs are online job boards like:
Note that online job boards might not be as lucrative as working directly with clients.
You don’t have much control over your rate because you are competing with so many other candidates.
But the goal here is to get your foot in the door.
2. Word of Mouth
Word of mouth is still one of the most effective ways to score some high-paying clients.
Tell your friends, your family, or your neighbors that you have just started a bookkeeping business.
You will be surprised at how many people are business owners who may need your help.
Also, you can make a list of small businesses in your locale and reach out to them.
Even if they don’t work with you for some reason, they might be able to give you a lead or refer you to someone they know.
Networking — whether done online or in real life — is one good way to start your bookkeeping journey.
LinkedIn groups, Facebook groups, Reddit communities, and local events are great places to find leads.
Use your customer service skills to deal with strangers and random people online or in-person.
How to Start a Bookkeeping Business
If you think you are ready for bigger things, don’t be afraid to consider starting a bookkeeping business.
If you have enrolled yourself in the Bookkeeper Launch program, then it should be easy for you to get started.
More than learning all the ropes of bookkeeping, Ben walks you through the process of starting a bookkeeping business.
Here are some tips on how to become a virtual bookkeeper at your own company:
1. Find Your Niche
Finding a niche is an important first step to building a profitable and lucrative business.
It’s what smart business people do — finding their tribe.
What niche are you most interested in?
Who do you want to work with?
Do you want to work with one large company?
Or do you prefer to work with multiple small businesses?
I recommend specializing in a particular service so you will be regarded as an expert in your field.
For instance, handling payrolls is one good niche.
Another is preparing quarterly taxes for small businesses.
If you are putting yourself or your business in a narrow field, you can pretty much charge a premium for that.
If you are just starting out, do not overthink it.
Make sure to try new things and see whether it’s what you want to do with your business moving forward.
2. Set Up Your Business
Set your business.
Start with a computer, internet connection, and bookkeeping software.
You can then move on to building your website and other online assets.
Make sure to display your bookkeeping services online and optimize your website for search engines.
Also, decide which business structure to go for:
- Sole proprietorship
- Limited liability company (LLC)
If you are a one-person team, sole proprietorship or LLC is the best route to take.
But do your research — what your needs and what your taxes and liabilities are.
That’s all for this post on how to become a bookkeeper with no experience.
Becoming a bookkeeper comes with pros and cons.
And it pays to keep these benefits and downsides in mind early on so you can set your business with realistic expectations.
Some of the pros are:
- Low startup costs
- Freedom to work at your own time, from home, or anywhere
- Earn a full-time income without leaving your home
- Easy to get started without a certificate or degree
Some of the cons are:
- Little room for mistakes
- Need to be sensitive with data
- Challenging to land your first clients
Do you have questions on how to become a bookkeeper from home?
Let me know in the comments!