How to Become a Bookkeeper

Bookkeeper Key Stats
Avg. Salary / year $38,120
Avg. Pay / hour $18.33
Education 0-6 Months
Job Outlook -1.5%

If you enjoy accounting, and get a good sense of satisfaction when you solve a problem, then you might like to become a bookkeeper. A bookkeeper looks after the financial accounts for a business, or sometimes an individual, completing a range of accounting and administrative duties.

The best bookkeepers have a good eye for detail, a head for figures, and a patient demeanor.

Working as a bookkeeper can mean many hours in front of a computer, and not a lot of contact with other people.

Many bookkeepers enjoy this aspect of their work the most!

Educational Requirements to Become a Bookkeeper

There are a few different pathways to become a bookkeeper.

If you’re in high school, the best way to prepare is by taking subjects in math and English.

You can complete a two year associate’s degree in an area like accounting to become a bookkeeper.

Your selected course should have a strong focus on topics like accounts payable and receivable, invoicing, computerized accounting, ledger balancing, and tax preparation.

You’ll also need to have strong computer skills, since most accounting is done on computers these days.

If you already have strong accounting skills, taking a short course in a computerized accounting software system might be all you need to land the job.

You don’t need to have an associate’s degree to work as a bookkeeper.

Many actually learn on the job, after being trained and promoted from other position.

For example, many receptions, accounts assistants, administrators, and clerks go on to be promoted to the position of bookkeeper.

This career path is a good choice if you don’t want to spend time at school; however there is no guarantee of promotion.

Another alternative route to become a bookkeeper is to attend night school.

If you already have an administrative role, or are just working full-time, attending night classes to attain a degree could be the way for you getting the job you want.

Bookkeeper Job Description

A bookkeeper looks after the financial and bookkeeping needs of a company.

They keep a track of the money coming into and going out of a business.

In smaller businesses, they are often also responsible for payroll.

They keep computerized records of invoices and outstanding accounts.

When money is owed they may need to follow up on debts.

A bookkeeper will also have to generate reports, usually on a monthly or weekly basis, for senior management to look at.

This could be a cash flow, a profit and loss statement, or a record of performance and sales for example.

Here are some of the responsibilities of a bookkeeper:

  • Accounts payable
  • Accounts receivable
  • Trust accounting
  • Payroll
  • Invoicing
  • Debt Collection
  • Ledger balances
  • Monthly rollover
  • End of year rollover

Bookkeeper Salary and Career Path

Many bookkeepers are promoted from similar positions within the same company, for instance administration.

Others are employed as trainee or assistant bookkeepers, and learn on the job.

With a year or two of experience, you could expect to be working without any supervision.

Many bookkeepers go on to complete further studies and become accountants.

Others go on to advanced positions within finance or administration.

Job prospects in this industry remain good.

Strong growth is predicted, and competition for jobs is not any higher than normal.

A qualification as a bookkeeper is once that will likely secure you a job for life, almost anywhere in the world.

If you’re looking for part-time work then you might like to become a bookkeeper.

Many of the positions available for this role are part-time or casual.

It’s also a good field to enter if you are planning on starting a family and working part-time later on.

The median salary of a bookkeeper is $32,000.

Those that work in a specialized field, such as auditing, may earn more.

The top 10% of earners make more than $49,000 a year.

Some similar roles to that of a bookkeeper include:

When you become a bookkeeper, you open yourself up to many job opportunities around the country.

Not only that, but you also have a flexible occupation that can change with your lifestyle requirements.

BLSThe below information is based on the 2021 BLS national averages.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary


Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
District of Columbia$60,130
New Hampshire$44,190
New Jersey$49,290
New Mexico$40,600
New York$50,720
North Carolina$41,130
North Dakota$42,840
Rhode Island$48,010
South Carolina$40,360
South Dakota$37,640
West Virginia$37,880
Puerto Rico$24,790
Virgin Islands$44,250

The top earning state in the field is District of Columbia, where the average salary is $60,130.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

District of Columbia - $60,130
Massachusetts - $53,340
Washington - $51,460
California - $51,080
Connecticut - $51,050
* Salary information based on the May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks, OCC Code 43-3031, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a bookkeeper do?

Bookkeepers produce financial records for organizations, businesses or individuals.

The profession of a bookkeeper is widespread; you can find specialists not only in businesses, but also schools and in different levels of government, for example.

The typical responsibilities of a bookkeeper include posting financial transactions; recording checks, vouchers, and cash; using different software, as well as spreadsheets and databases; producing reports; assigning each cost and income to an appropriate account in the software; checking the reports for accuracy, and so on.

Bookkeepers work with all sorts of records; some of those include bills to be paid, invoices, expenditures, etc.

Some bookkeepers can be responsible for specific tasks, while others are fully in charge of all the records of an organization.

A bookkeeper should certainly be great at math and be able to use various computer programs.

How much do bookkeepers make?

On average, bookkeepers make around $30.000 per year in the United States.

You can expect to earn anywhere between $26.000 and $46.000.

An entry-level bookkeeper, for example, can be paid a little more than $12 per hour; while a top-level professional can make over $22 every hour.

Of course, the salary of the bookkeeper would depend on the size of the company that he or she decides to work for.

Some specialists prefer to become freelancers and handle certain reports of a few companies or individuals at a time.

Many bookkeepers also offer tax preparation services.

How much does it cost to become a bookkeeper?

You wouldn’t necessarily need a degree in order to become a bookkeeper; in most cases, a high school diploma would do.

However, you might want to undergo some computer courses, for example, to get familiarized with bookkeeping software.

You can find some free courses online; others can cost you a few hundreds of dollars.

In case you want to become a certified bookkeeper, you can complete one out of many certification courses.

A lot of programs are available online and can cost you anywhere between $500 and $3.000.

What is the demand for bookkeepers?

From 2016 to 2026, the bookkeeper job market is expected to shrink by 1.5%.

In the near future, this career path is going to provide poor employment opportunities.

Nowadays, there is such technology that can easily perform the tasks that were previously done by humans.

However, there will be a demand for workers that understand how these new systems work and are able to control them.

Certified bookkeepers will have better chances of getting employed in the industry.

How long does it take to become a bookkeeper?

Certified bookkeepers will have better chances of getting employed in the industry.

In most cases, you would need only a high school diploma to apply for entry-level positions in the industry, as on-the-job training will be provided by the company.

However, if you decide to complete computer courses, it can take you a few weeks.

Bookkeeping certificate programs last anywhere between a few weeks and a couple of months.

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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