A bookkeeper is a financial professional responsible for overseeing the financial transactions and accounts of an organization, as well as the compliance with federal and state laws and regulations. Furthermore, their duties also include maintaining accurate financial reports, releasing and recording payrolls, and creating and inspecting general ledger entries and payment records. They may also assist other departments with various processes, such as the organization and filling out of documents of newly hired employees and the payment and setting up of insurances and benefits.

Summary. We reviewed real candidate profiles to learn the best path to become a bookkeeper. We'll guide you through the education, experiences, and skills hiring managers look for in a bookkeeper.

  • Most companies require a bookkeeper to have a bachelor's degree degree in a related field, such as accounting or business.

  • It's important to have relevant work experience, with typical job requirements ranging from 2-4 years in related fields.

  • Common job titles before becoming a bookkeeper include office manager, administrative assistant, and cashier.

  • Hiring managers expect a bookkeeper to have soft skills such as computer skills, integrity, and detail oriented.

  • Once you have all the required skills and experience, it takes an average of 1-3 months of job training to become a bookkeeper.

  • Getting a certification as a Certified Management Accountant (CMA) will help you to earn more as a bookkeeper.

How to become a Bookkeeper in 6 steps:

  • Step 1: Explore bookkeeper education
  • Step 2: Develop bookkeeper skills
  • Step 3: Complete relevent training/internship
  • Step 4: Get bookkeeper certifications
  • Step 5: Research bookkeeper duties
  • Step 6: Prepare your resume
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Key Steps To Become a Bookkeeper

  1. Explore Bookkeeper Education

    If you're interested in becoming a bookkeeper, one of the first things to consider is how much education you need. We've determined that 46.1% of bookkeepers have a bachelor's degree. In terms of higher education levels, we found that 4.7% of bookkeepers have master's degrees. Even though most bookkeepers have a college degree, it's possible to become one with only a high school degree or GED.

    Choosing the right major is always an important step when researching how to become a bookkeeper. When we researched the most common majors for a bookkeeper, we found that they most commonly have accounting, business and finance.

    Bookkeeper Degrees


    46.1 %


    29.5 %

    High School Diploma

    12.5 %

    Bookkeeper MajorPercentages
    General Studies2.80%
    Other Degrees24.60%

  2. Develop Bookkeeper Skills

    It'll be a good idea to develop bookkeeper skills before applying for a job. Here are some skills commonly requested in bookkeeper job descriptions:

  3. Complete Relevent Training/Internship

    Bookkeepers spend an average of 1-3 months on post-employment, on-the-job training. During this time, new bookkeepers learn the skills and techniques required for their specific job and employer. The chart below shows how much time it takes to gain competency as a bookkeeper based on U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data and data from real bookkeeper resumes.

    Average Amount Of Time At Training

    Less than 1 month

    1-3 months

    3-6 months

    6-12 months

    1-2 years

  4. Get Bookkeeper Certifications

    Certifications can show employers you have a baseline of knowledge expected for this position. They can also make you a more competitive candidate. Even if employers don't require a certification, having one may help you stand out in an application. Plus, the process of getting a certification can teach you new skills that you can bring to your work. We determined the most common certifications for bookkeepers. The most common certification is Certified Management Accountant (CMA), but Bookkeepers Certification is also frequently seen in bookkeepers resumes.

    1. Certified Management Accountant (CMA)
    2. Bookkeepers Certification
    3. International Accredited Business Accountant (IABA)
    4. Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
    5. Nationally Certified Medical Office Assistant (NCMOA)
    6. Certified Bank Teller (CBT)
    7. Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP)
    8. Professional Credit Specialist (PCS)

    More About Certifications

  5. Research Bookkeeper Duties

    When you decide to become a bookkeeper, It's important to know what duties and responsibilities are required for this position. Some common responsibilities are a part of most bookkeeper jobs. Here is a list of the main duties that define the role:

    • Manage AR, prepare deposits and perform basic receptionist/customer service tasks in office.
    • Perform journal entries, balance ledger, perform bank reconciliations, control inventory, coordinate proper guest accommodation.
    • Post and update of daily sales and purchases into QuickBooks system.
    • Execute monthly collection of Medicaid surplus funds from clients on a monthly basis.
    • Post resident receipts, Medicaid remittance, and process adjusting entries to the A/R detail.
    • Work closely with QC personnel for the planning of tooling and the flow process of PWB's.

  6. Prepare Your Resume

    Finally, when you already have checked the skills and responsibilities for this role, you can start creating your resume. Everything that goes into creating a perfect resume can take hours, days, or even weeks. No worries, we created a resume builder to make this process as easy as possible with tips and examples of skills, responsibilities, and a summary.

    Choose From 10+ Customizable Bookkeeper Resume templates

    Build a professional Bookkeeper resume in minutes. Browse through our resume examples to identify the best way to word your resume. Then choose from 10+ resume templates to create your Bookkeeper resume.

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  7. Apply For a Bookkeeper Job

    With your ready resume, it's time to start searching for a new job. Consider the tips below for a successful job search:

    1. Browse job boards for relevant postings
    2. Consult your professional network
    3. Reach out to companies you're interested in working for directly
    4. Watch out for job scams

    Bookkeeper Jobs

  8. How To Become a Bookkeeper
    How To Become a Bookkeeper Career Overview

Becoming a Bookkeeper FAQs

How To Start A Bookkeeping Business

To start a bookkeeping business, you should determine your market, develop a business plan, and get certified as a bookkeeper. For details on each of these steps and others you can take to start a bookkeeping business, use this guide:

  • Determine your market. When starting any new business, it is important to determine the market in which it is going to operate.

    New businesses are often most successful when they pick a niche market, and with a bookkeeping business, you can pick to service many different industries. Every kind of company and business, across every industry, needs to keep track of its finances and make improvements to its operations based on bookkeeping.

    To make marketing your business easier you should pick one specific industry and niche to provide bookkeeping services to, at least in the early years of your business. Doing this helps you to gain a reputation within one industry and possibly get referrals from similar clients or companies.

    To find the right niche for your bookkeeping business you should do a fair amount of market research. This is also a critical step for developing a proper business plan.

    You need to look into all types of bookkeeping businesses, and the markets they operate in. To not get overwhelmed you should try to narrow your research just to a few industries that you find appealing, or ones that you think could be underserviced in terms of bookkeeping.

    Understanding your competition, who they serve, the price quotes they have, and their clientele, will help you determine how you can make a successful bookkeeping business that will stand out.

    One great way to learn about competitors is to talk with their clients. Here you can get information on what they are doing right and what they are doing wrong, and you'll be doing customer research at the same time. This will be of great value later when you plan your business and decide on marketing strategies.

  • Develop a bookkeeping business plan. Your business plan should cover customer research, competitors, a startup budget, and financial projections for your bookkeeping business.

    This document can be on the longer side and sometimes takes a while to craft, but it is very important. It will assist in focusing your business and its objectives, and provide a smoother startup process overall.

    Other things you should list out on your business plan include the problems you will be solving for clients and customers, what sets your business apart from the competition, the resources your business will depend upon, and your mission statement and vision for the future of the company.

    Your business plan is a critical document for yourself, especially if you are looking to get a small business loan or investors in your company. At this stage, you should also choose a name for your business. Pick something concise, catchy, and memorable. Remember, your business name will be the first impression for your potential clients, so it's actually really important to put a lot of thought into this.

    It helps to come up with several different business names and run them by friends, family, and professionals to see which they like. Then once you have decided on a name, you should check in your secretary of state's business name database to make sure it is not taken already.

  • Get certified as a bookkeeper. Certification helps prove your qualifications and can be a selling point for your bookkeeping services to potential clients.

    Technically, you are not required to gain certification to run a bookkeeping business, but it is encouraged. This will help your business stand out amongst competitors, and signal to potential clients that you are a professional bookkeeper.

    The certified public bookkeeper (CPB) certification is a great option. You can also consider getting certified in specific bookkeeping software, such as QuickBooks.

  • Register your bookkeeping business and research insurance. The exact process of registering your business will vary, depending on how you choose to structure your business.

    Depending on the size of your business, you have two solid options. If you are operating the business completely on your own you can form a sole proprietorship, but if you plan to have other employees now, or soon in the future, you might want to consider structuring your bookkeeping business as a limited liability company (LLC).

    If you operate as an LLC, your personal and company information is entirely separate. While this changes your tax status, it does protect you from personal losses based on the company's performance.

    Once you have this determined you'll also want to get a Federal Tax ID number. This helps you get a license to run your business. This is also referred to as an EIN or Employer Identification Number. Requirements will vary from state to state, so it's important to do your own research into your specific state's requirements.

    Business insurance is necessary to protect you from liabilities, and other possible claims. Liabilities for a bookkeeping business include things like making mistakes on a company's financial books.

  • Purchase bookkeeping software. This is an essential element of any bookkeeping business. Your software is the foundation your business will be built upon.

    There are many different options in this area. The most common one used in the industry is QuickBooks. Another popular software program for bookkeeping is Xero, but if you have one you are more familiar with or any kind of preference regarding this, that's fine too.

    As was mentioned earlier, you can also gain certifications for most bookkeeping software, so if you have more experience with a particular one, you should probably choose that to be your standard software and get certified in it.

    If you happen to be starting this business with a team of bookkeepers, take their opinions into account when making this decision, but it is ultimately up to you to choose.

  • Set up your bookkeeping business. This includes items like your website, your client database management system, file-sharing, and a business bank account.

    A website is a great marketing tool for your bookkeeping business. This is where potential clients can go to find out about you, or your team, and your experience, services, and pricing.

    Many bookkeeping businesses operate completely in the virtual space, so it's important to have a good website. If you have the extra money, you can also hire a professional to build you a website.

    Your client database management system is a critical tool that you need to think about, especially if you want your business to grow. You need to be able to track your clients efficiently and effectively. A good client database management system and project management tool can help you to design your workflow.

    You should also consider purchasing accounting practice management software; oftentimes these types of software easily integrate into your bookkeeping software, like QuickBooks.

    File-sharing is a crucial tool for any bookkeeper.

    If your clients are going to be emailing you receipts or other financial documents, you need a good tool to have them do so. Dropbox is perhaps the most common file-sharing tool, however, there are many options. The goal is to have a file that both you and your clients can access.

    You also need to look into starting a business bank account, this should be separate from your personal bank account, and is a necessary step to take for tax purposes.

  • Determine your pricing. You should reference the market research on your competitors you performed when taking this step.

    Business owners often find this step difficult. As they want to price their services low enough to attract new customers, yet high enough to make their business sustainable, of course, profitable.

    The average charge for a bookkeeper in the United States is around $17 per hour. On the very low end, the average fee is $10 per hour, and on the high end it is $24 per hour.

    Keep in mind you want an attractive rate when first starting out. Your pricing should also reflect your education, experience, and certifications. Other factors include whether you specialize in a specific industry's bookkeeping and the local average rates of bookkeepers in your area.

    If you get overwhelmed with this step, don't worry, your rate does not have to be fixed, and you can always change it later if you feel you made a mistake.

  • Obtain clients. Marketing is crucial for any kind of business. Those with the most successful marketing strategies usually determine a target client base and create marketing strategies tailored directly to them.

    Think about what sets your business apart from competitors and market accordingly. You should utilize the internet heavily by creating social media business accounts, and paying for social media ads, if possible.

    Other ideas for marketing include email campaigns, direct mail ads, radio spots, as well as some other strategies.

    Remember that one of the best forms of marketing for a bookkeeping business is word of mouth. Here you don't actually have to do much of the marketing at all, just simply provide excellent bookkeeping services to your clients and ask them to recommend you to other possible clients.

  • Determine your costs. Luckily, starting a small bookkeeping business is not a very expensive endeavor, especially when compared to some other small businesses.

    The minimum cost can be as low as several hundred dollars, while if you are starting a larger-scale bookkeeping business, it might cost you $10,000+.

    The high-end estimate should be used if you are hiring employees and running your bookkeeping business out of a physical office, meaning you would need the funds to lease out a space, and then also purchase all the supplies that go with that, computers, furniture, printers, etc.

    However, a completely virtual bookkeeping business doesn't really cost much at all, depending on how prepared you already are with necessary items like a reliable computer, software, and other supplies.

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