Bookkeeping is a commonly confused job title. Many people think that bookkeepers and accountants are the same thing. In reality, the roles are very different. Bookkeepers are more concerned with the day-to-day financial records for a business, while an accountant looks at the bigger picture. While the two might work hand in hand, their job roles are very different. 

If you’re interested in becoming a bookkeeper, you first need to understand the intricacies of the role. As part of your bookkeeping training, you will learn everything you need to know in order to carry out your job. There are some qualities which will make you a more successful bookkeeper. For example, you will need a keen attention to detail as mistakes can be problematic for a company. Read on to discover what is required of a bookkeeper and how to move into this field.

Bookkeeper job description

As a bookkeeper, you will be responsible for keeping track of the day-to-day accounts of a company or organisation. The bookkeeper will either work to set procedures or define their own. At the end of the financial year, you will prepare the financial documents for the accountant. The bookkeeper will also manage client invoices and payments, including chasing late payments when required. In some companies, the bookkeeper will also be responsible for accounts payable, which means you will have to pay invoices sent from other companies and suppliers.

In small companies, the bookkeeper might be the first point of contact for clients, suppliers and banking contacts. In a large organisation, you might be part of a team of bookkeepers who divide the responsibilities between them.

The ideal candidate

In order to be successful as a bookkeeper, you will need to have strong numerical skills. If you’re the kind of person who can work out everyone’s share of the bill when you go out for dinner with friends, you could have the skills to become a successful bookkeeper. Don’t worry if the last time you did any mathematics was in high school. You bookkeeper training will tell you everything you need to know to be able to complete any task.

Bookkeepers also need to be organised. You’ll be responsible for the financial documents of an entire company, which are very valuable. Once a company has filed its VAT and company accounts for the year, you’ll need to know how to archive them correctly. As more companies are switching to digital accounts, you’ll also need strong computing skills. Being able to use basic computer software such as spreadsheets and databases will serve you well.

As many bookkeepers will be the main point of contact for anything related to the finances of the company, you will need to have strong communication skills. Being able to communicate with people at all levels of the organisation by phone and email will be essential. You also need to know how to be firm when it is required. One of the less favourable aspects of being a bookkeeper is chasing late invoices. While some people relish this aspect of the role, it can be difficult for those who aren’t naturally assertive.

Bookkeepers typically work very sociable hours and you may even have the chance to work from home on occasion. Although this might be a perk of the job, you will still be required to work to strict deadlines. You might feel like a small cog in a larger machine, but the work of the bookkeeper is vital to ensuring that a business has the cash flow to keep running. Some bookkeepers go on to train as accountants which gives them a broader view of company finances. This can be a natural career progression for many bookkeepers who want more responsibility within a company.

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