You’ll need some training and certification to become a professional bookkeeper. It's also a good idea to check out local government requirements for setting up a bookkeeping business.
What qualifications do you need to become a bookkeeper?
Some people get their first bookkeeping role with a high school qualification, then learn everything else on the job. But it certainly helps to get further education. A degree isn't required. Most bookkeeping qualifications are at diploma or certificate level.
What training can you get?
Courses are available through technical institutes, polytechnics, colleges and universities. There are online courses where you can learn the basics of bookkeeping.
Certification and training through institutes
The American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB) offers anyone the ability to become a Certified Bookkeeper (CB) by passing a certification exam. You must have at least two years of full-time work experience, or the equivalent in part-time or freelance bookkeeping work. You must also sign the AIPB’s code of ethics.
Learning the technology side
Software will improve your efficiency and reporting capabilities so many clients will expect you to use it. If you plan to learn a particular software package, find one that provides good learning resources and certification.
As an extra tip, look for software that is commonly used by the types of clients you want to work with. Some types of software are more suited to certain industries.
Key skills to become a top bookkeeper
Beyond your bookkeeping training there are some other crucial skills you’ll need:
- numerical accuracy and attention to detail – you’re being employed to keep things tidier than the business owner can
- an analytical mind – you enjoy solving problems and persist in getting an answer
- strong communication skills – you need to be able to explain things simply to the business owner and gain their trust and confidence
- good organization and multitasking skills – if you have your own business, you’ll have more than one client on the go and you’ll need to juggle regular tasks with unexpected requests
- strong computer skills and a willingness to keep learning – software and apps keep improving and you need to stay on top of things in order to understand what can best help your employer’s or client’s business
What do you need to set up your own bookkeeping business?
To get yourself to the stage where you’re ready to start your own business, a combination of education, certification, and mastery of the work tools are a good foundation. And most clients are going to want to see that you have some experience, including endorsement from business owners like themselves. On top of that, a desire to help others run their business well is a sound driver for starting a bookkeeping business.
You don’t need accounting qualifications but some level of knowledge can’t hurt, especially when you’re often the messenger between the business owner and their accountant.