What Is Bookkeeping?

Bookkeeping primarily involves keeping track of a business' financial transactions. This career often requires on-the-job training or short-term postsecondary education. Continue reading to find out more about bookkeeping, including job responsibilities, employment outlook and educational program options. Schools offering Bookkeeping degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Bookkeeping Overview

As a bookkeeper, you'd be responsible for tracking the flow of revenue in and out of a business or organization. This lets owners and other stakeholders assess profit margins, cash flow, long-term debt and other factors that are vital to making business decisions. The job can also involve handling a business' taxes, payroll and billing. Since bookkeeping software is often a key component of these processes, you'll need to be proficient with computers and accounting software programs. Depending upon an organization's size, you might work independently as a bookkeeper or as part of a team, especially when handling larger accounts.

Important Facts About Bookkeeping

On-the-Job Training Supervised and may include classroom courses
Key Skills Computer competency, detail oriented, moral integrity, mathematical proficiency
Work Environment Office settings, or clients' place of business
Similar Occupations Accountant, auditor, budget analyst, cost estimator, financial clerk, loan officer, tax examiner, tax collector, revenue agent

Education and Training Requirements

Some companies might require you to have only a high school diploma to work for them as a bookkeeper. In these instances, you'll usually gain most of your training on the job. However, some employers will be more likely to hire you if you complete some post-secondary education, such as a certificate or a degree in accounting or a related field. Whether you complete a certificate or degree program, you can expect to study the following accounting topics:

  • Financial accounting
  • Managerial accounting
  • Accounting software
  • Federal income taxation for businesses and individuals
  • Auditing

Certification Options

You can pursue a Certified Bookkeeper (CB) designation from the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB). Becoming a CB requires possessing two years of work experience and passing their four-part certification exam with a 70%-75% test score (www.aipb.org). However, you can take the exam before you meet the experience requirement. You'll also be required to follow the AIPB's code of ethics. Another certification option is the Uniform Bookkeeper Certification offered by the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers. This is a multiple-choice test that you take online, and you need to earn a score of 80%.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

With training in bookkeeping, you might be hired as a financial clerk, a billing clerk, a payroll clerk or an accounting clerk, depending on your experience and the needs of your employer. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for bookkeepers, as well as accounting and auditing clerks, is expected to increase by 8% between 2014 and 2024. In May 2014, the BLS reported that the median annual wage for bookkeeping, auditing and accounting clerks was $36,430.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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