Last Updated: April 4, 2017
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What Do Bookkeepers Do?
With all the talk these days about jobs being outsourced to other countries, here’s one that is unlikely to do so any time soon: working as a bookkeeper. Because bookkeepers provide hands-on services to local companies, governments, charitable organizations and small businesses, it follows that they are needed either on site or in close touch with a client. In addition, their jobs are unlikely to go out of fashion any time soon; they have been around since modern businesses have been functioning and will continue to be so.
Bookkeeper Job Description
Bookkeepers use standard accounting procedures to prepare, balance and maintain financial records. They handle such aspects of record keeping as accounts payable and receivable, bill payment, payroll, customized reports, budgets and tax returns. They ensure they are accurate and when required to do so break accounts down into meaningful segments in terms of history and type. However, bookkeepers do more than simply enter and balance figures. They are key elements in the functioning of a business operation. The reason is that they are responsible for tracking the institution’s money, which is the hub around which an organization moves. Indeed, monitoring cash flow is an important ingredient in assessing how well the company is doing, what it needs to do to stay on track, and whether it needs to change direction. As a bookkeeper, you might not have to make crucial decisions on the running of the company, but you will be required to provide the company’s executives with the information they need to make those decisions. Bookkeepers will find that they become accustomed to a company and the field in which it operates. So, they become a valuable resource. Often, they will be called upon to draw up financial reports. While doing so, they will assess and analyze incoming and outgoing figures that indicate in which direction the company is moving. For example, has profit been moving upward up in the last six months or is it going steadily down? For this reason, bookkeepers can be promoted in the company, by becoming, say, supervisors. Or bookkeepers might want to study further to become accountants, who work at a higher level and undertake research, analytical and problem-solving assessments in addition to checking and compiling financial records. Bookkeepers will often find that accountants are called in to assist them should the bookkeeping methods change, to coach them on a new approach, or to audit their work. Accountants generally have a higher level of education.
Bookkeeper Job Requirements
Clearly, anyone who wants to be a bookkeeper must not only want to work with figures, but must also can do so efficiently and accurately. Depending on the size of the company, they may be required to work with large sums of money and even small mistakes can be costly. Time often is an important element as a financial report may be needed for a meeting or to assess a crucial business decision. It is no surprise, therefore, that bookkeepers need to be reliable workers who understand deadlines. Above all, honesty and integrity are crucial elements. Because money is such an important part of an organization, the bookkeeper needs to be completely trustworthy. A high school diploma and basic computer and mathematics skills are essential, but in most cases a bookkeeper also needs to have taken courses in accounting or bookkeeping either in high school or at a college level. A higher level of education can command a more significant position so it is a good idea to add courses that will equip you to undertake a higher level of work and will look good on your resume. Knowledge of spreadsheets and bookkeeping software, such as QuickBooks, is essential for most positions, although it may be necessary to learn the system that the organization uses if it is not a commonly used one. As always, experience is an important ingredient that can make up for a lack in advanced education. A bookkeeper does not have to occupy a full-time position in an organization. In 2012, 25 percent worked part-time.
How Much Do Bookkeepers Make? (Bookkeeper Salary)
Per 2016 figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean average pay for a bookkeeper was $40,220 a year or $19.34 an hour. In 2016 an estimated over 1.5 million were working as bookkeepers and projections were that employment of bookkeepers, accountants and auditing clerks are showing a decline in growth, however, this due to replacement needs so there will be plenty of job openings. As the economy starts to see a large increase in bookkeeping retirement, companies still expand and more small businesses are established, so the demand for bookkeepers is expected to grow despite job losses from workers retiring. Any increase in financial regulations often leads to more jobs for bookkeepers who will be required to interpret and implement the news ways of keeping the books as well. For additional bookkeeper salary information, try payscale.com