How to Become a Bookkeeper

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How to Become a Bookkeeper

If you’re you’re looking for a job with a nice salary that doesn’t require a college education, bookkeeping could be a great option. According to ZipRecruiter, the average annual pay for a bookkeeper in the United States is over $58,000, with high earners making over $100,000.

Not only does it offer excellent income potential, but working as a bookkeeper may also give you the opportunity to work from home, as a growing number of bookkeeping jobs are being done remotely.

This article will cover all of the details related to what a bookkeeper does, qualifications for the job, and how to become a bookkeeper.

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What Qualifications Do You Need to Become a Bookkeeper?

There is no education or certification officially required to work as a bookkeeper. Many entry-level bookkeeping jobs require only a high school diploma, although the specific requirements can vary depending upon the company and the position.

Some bookkeeping jobs may require an associates degree or some comparable work experience, which can also include other types of administrative work. Many companies also offer internships in bookkeeping and related roles, so high school and college students may be able to gain some valuable experience this way.

Most companies that hire bookkeepers will be willing to provide on-the-job training, so even without a college degree and without experience, you may be able to find work as a bookkeeper, making it one of the best entry-level work from home jobs.

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How Do You Get a Bookkeeping Certification?

The American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB) offers a certified bookkeeper program that may be something you want to pursue after you have some experience. In order to qualify as a certified bookkeeper, you will need at least two years of work experience in the field and you’ll need to pass a test.

Obviously, with the requirement for previous work experience, getting certified is not something that you can do to get into the field, but once you have the two years of experience, the certification can help to open up new opportunities and/or increase your income.

What is the Difference Between a Bookkeeper and an Accountant?

Bookkeepers are sometimes called accounting clerks. While the exact details will vary depending on the job, bookkeepers generally deal with the day-to-day financial duties, which can include:

  • Managing payroll
  • Entering debits and credits
  • Managing receipts and invoices
  • Managing and maintaining financial records
  • Reconciling any discrepancies
  • Running and reading financial reports

While bookkeepers will usually manage the daily finances, accountants may be responsible for:

  • Preparing tax returns
  • Providing advice related to tax issues
  • Ensuring compliance with legal regulations

Overall, accounting is more analytical in nature and requires more experience and knowledge, while bookkeeping is more administrative. In some cases, bookkeepers may be supervised by or report to an accountant. The accountants may rely on the information and data prepared by bookkeepers.

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How Much Does a Bookkeeper Make?

Bookkeeping can be a great job, especially considering the fact that a college degree is generally not required. As was mentioned in the intro, ZipRecruiter reports that the average annual income of bookkepers in the United States is $58,233, with the majority ranging between $28,000 and $71,500. According to ZipRecruiter, some bookkepers earn salaries as high as $140,500!

Of course, there are a lot of factors that will influence how much you can make as a bookkeper. Entry level jobs will often be at the lower end of the range, but you may also want to consider that self-employed freelance bookkeepers typically have the potential for higher income, as compared to bookkeepers who work for an employer.

Another factor to keep in mind is the fact that there is a lot of demand for bookkeepers. Just like accountants, bookkeepers are needed by almost every business.

The combination of excellent income potential, high demand, and low requirements in terms of education and experience make working as a bookkeeper a very appealing option. And if you’re working as a freelancer, you can add flexibility and the opportunity to work from home to the list of reasons to consider a career as a bookkeeper.

How to Get Started as a Bookkeeper

Now that we’ve looked at what’s involved and you’ve seen that it looks pretty enticing, you may be wondering how get started as a bookkeeper. Here are some steps that you can follow.

Step 1: Meet the Basic Requirements

Like any other type of job, the exact requirements can vary depending on the company that is hiring, but in general, the minimum requirement to work as a bookkeeper is a high school diploma. If you’re a high school graduate, you’ve got enough qualifications to consider pursuing work as a bookkeeper.

Step 2: Look for Openings

Bookkeeping jobs are pretty common, so general job boards like Indeed can be a good starting point. Alternatively, here are two other sources that you might want to consider:

  • FlexJobs – FlexJobs specializes in remote jobs and all opportunities are vetted for legitimacy. It costs a little bit of money, but a FlexJobs subscription can save you a lot of time and help you to find a remote job as a bookkeeper.
  • AccountantList – This site posts bookkeeping jobs, as well as a list of companies that hire remote bookkeepers and accountants.

Step 3: Apply

Get your resume ready and apply to any job listings that look like a good fit.

Step 4: Get Some Experience (if Needed)

If you don’t have any luck getting a job right now, you may want to consider some ways that you can prepare yourself for a bookkeeping job in the near future. Here are a few options:

  • Take an internship that will give you bookkeeping experience.
  • Take another administrative role that will give you some valuable skills or experience that could help you to land a bookkeeping job.
  • Get training or certification for QuickBooks. Intuit will help you to get training and prepare you for the exam to earn certification. Having this certification can be a big help with proving your qualifications for a job.

Starting a Freelance Bookkeeping Business

An alternative to finding a job as a bookkeeper would be starting your own freelance bookkeeping business. Freelance bookkeepers have a higher income potential, as well as the flexibility to work from home and adjust their working hours.

Of course, your success and income would depend on your ability to find clients. The good news is that as a freelance bookkeeper, most of your clients would be on-going, so once you have several clients, you shouldn’t need to spend much time looking for new work.

As a freelancer, you’ll need to be sure that you have the necessary skills and experience before taking clients. You won’t benefit from the same on-the-job training that you would likely get from an entry-level position with an employer. Ideally, you’ll have some experience before starting to work as a freelancer, but some people have gotten training independently and began their career as a bookkeeper by freelancing.

The QuickBooks certification front Intuit can be great training to improve your skills in preparation of freelancing. You could also take a course like Bookkeeping Basics at Udemy.

Finding Clients

Here are a few different ways that you could find clients for your bookkeeping services.

Set Up Your Own Website

Having your own website can make it easier for potential clients to find you, and it also gives you some added credibility. Your website can provide information about the services you offer, answer any frequently asked questions, provide your bio and qualifications, and make it easy for people to get in touch with you.

Optionally, you could also have a blog at your website and publish articles on related topics, which could result in more traffic for your site and more new clients.

Starting a website is pretty easy. You can sign up with Bluehost for just $2.95 per month here.


One of the best ways to find clients is through your personal and professional network. Tell people what you’re doing, especially those who are business owners or people who work for businesses that may benefit from your services. You can also attend local networking events, like chamber of commerce functions.

Post an Ad on Craigslist

You can post an ad in the services section of your local Craigslist page to easily and quickly increase visibility. You may be surprised at what can happen with a simple Craigslist ad. You can also post ads in other nearby locations to increase exposure even more.


Indeed is one of the easiest job boards to search. A simple search for “freelance bookkeeper” will find a number of listings, and then you can filter the results from there to get more specific.


FlexJobs, also mentioned earlier, will cost a monthly subscription, but it’s an excellent service that can help you to find opportunities. Some of the opportunities are for remote workers who would be employees, but there are freelance opportunities available too.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for a great career option that doesn’t require a college degree, working as a bookkeeper could be a great choice. Follow the steps in the article to look for jobs or launch your own freelance business

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