Companies, schools and government agencies couldn't keep up with transactions and payments without bookkeepers. Also called bookkeeping or accounting clerks, they record checks, credit card and cash transactions in computers, and produce reports -- such as income statements and balance sheets -- for managers and executives. If you are detail-oriented and conscientious about accuracy -- as shown by the way you balance the checkbook at home -- you already have some skills of a bookkeeper. The next step is taking some related courses and getting training.
Most bookkeepers are required to have high school diplomas. Some employers prefer that you have some postsecondary education, especially with coursework in accounting, finance and business -- with a general understanding of recordkeeping. Twenty-five percent of bookkeepers had at least an associate's degree as of 2009, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Bookkeepers usually get their training on the job with employers. You may train under a supervisor or experienced bookkeeper and learn the basics of double-entry bookkeeping. Double-entry bookkeeping involves keeping track of all debits, or costs, and credits, or income. Two entries are made for each transaction to make sure all accounts are balanced. Along with on-the-job training, you might be required to attend classroom training to learn your company's or agency's computer software. Training for bookkeepers usually takes about six months, according to the BLS.
Some employers require that bookkeepers be certified, and certification can increase your employment opportunities. You may earn the designation of certified bookkeeper, or CB, through the American Institute of Professional Bookkeeping when you complete the certification process. You must have two years of experience in bookkeeping to qualify for certification and pass a four-part exam. Another option is to take the Uniform Bookkeeper Certification Exam through the national Bookkeepers Association, according to the BLS. You must score at least 80 percent on a 50-question multiple-choice exam to attain this certification.
Bookkeepers must be highly detailed-oriented to ensure accuracy with all book entries they make. They must check their work periodically, learn to recognize errors and correct them immediately. As a bookkeeper, you must also be proficient in basic math because you will be using it daily on your job. Computer skills are also required to manipulate spreadsheets and use bookkeeping software.
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