Bookkeeping Jobs – Challenging and Plentiful
Bookkeeping Jobs continue to grow as businesses recognize the need for quality record keeping. The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics predicts an additional 259,000 roles will be created in the next 10 years.
The bookkeeper’s role is an essential component of small and mid-size companies in nearly every industry. If you are interested in an influential, dynamic position, there’s opportunity for you.
The Bookkeeping Role
Bookkeepers are responsible for recording the financial transactions and maintaining financial records for an organization. The level of responsibility is actually higher in smaller organizations because there are fewer employees to handle key tasks.
Bookkeepers often work closely with business owners to give operational and management advice and manage cash flow. Here are some typical responsibilities you may have as a bookkeeper.
- Accounts Receivable - Your tasks will likely include creating invoices, posting customer payments, creating bank deposits, and collecting on past due accounts. Often you will also be asked to review customer credit applications and maintain customer accounts.
- Accounts Payable – How are you at managing your own finances? As a bookkeeper, you will receive the bills for your organization and be asked to investigate and validate them as if they were your own. Once you’ve validated amounts, you will pay the bills according to the cash flow policies of your organization.
- Customer Service – In your role as bookkeeper, you will resolve issues with customers and vendors on behalf of the company. A calm, professional demeanor is necessary, as well as a dedication to represent the company in the best way while protecting its profitability. You will find yourself negotiating with vendors and customers alike.
- Purchasing – Most bookkeepers regularly purchase office equipment and supplies. In some companies, you will also purchase raw materials and services.
- General Ledger Maintenance – Here’s where your accounting knowledge really shines. Bookkeepers use their judgment to make accounting decisions every day. You will maintain the chart of accounts and divide transactions into their appropriate categories. You will also make a number of standard journal entries and generate financial statements and other reporting.
- Maintain Bank Accounts – Most organizations have multiple bank accounts. You will reconcile them monthly, investigating any discrepancies until they are resolved. You will make bank deposits, transfer funds, and sometimes initiate electronic payments.
- Payroll – In many companies, the bookkeeper is responsible for payroll. Not only will you prepare the paychecks or direct deposit payments for all employees, you will maintain the payroll related information for each employee. If you process payroll you will usually also prepare the related tax deposits, journal entries, and quarterly payroll tax returns. Even if your company outsources payroll, you will prepare and post payroll related journal entries and maintain employee records.
- Benefits Administration – Bookkeepers routinely fill basic human resources functions as a part of their role. Be prepared to coordinate health insurance benefits and worker’s compensation paperwork for your organization.
Independence and Responsibility
Most bookkeepers are employed by small and mid-size businesses. These organizations are often full of entrepreneurial spirit and a drive to do whatever it takes to make the business succeed. As bookkeeper, you will function as a financial manager of sorts for the entire organization. The owner or principle manager will look to you for advice on cost saving measures, cash flow, and employee management.
Bookkeepers work very independently. You may find you are the only office employee, besides a receptionist, for the entire organization. Time management and self-motivation are essential if you hope to succeed.
Can you multi-task?
Imagine working with an intricate bank reconciliation, fielding a vendor inquiry, and answering an employee payroll question in the same fifteen minute time frame. Seem challenging? Wait until the owner asks you to stop what you’re doing and review damaged raw materials which have just arrived or call a customer to explain a shipping delay. The roles in companies like this are fluid, with employees performing whatever tasks are required at a given time.
What about accounting supervision?
Businesses that employee bookkeepers frequently retain a CPA firm for tax preparation and business advice. These CPA firms have small business experts that provide accounting guidance and bookkeeping supervision as a part of their services. This expert often gives direction on journal entries, reviews the general ledger at the end of a month or quarter and recommends adjustments, and prepares quarterly financial statements.
Qualifying for Bookkeeping Jobs
Technically, you can qualify for a bookkeeping job with a high school diploma and some general accounting knowledge. Most companies, however, are looking for an Associate Degree or 2-3 years of accounting related experience.
The high level of responsibility requires knowledge and skill you can’t easily acquire by attending high school alone. Here are some of the things employers are looking for.
- Computer Skills – Bookkeeping jobs are automated using software such as QuickBooks, Peachtree, or Great Plains. If you are able to work efficiently with software like this, you have an advantage. You must also be able to generate and maintain spreadsheets and create business documents using software such as Microsoft Excel and Word.
- Work Ethic – Can you work hard? Are you willing to work long hours if the business needs require? Employers are looking for bookkeepers with a strong work ethic and the flexibility to adapt to the changing needs of the business.
- Detail Oriented – Seems obvious, doesn’t it? You will handle multiple details with minimal direction. Accuracy is vitally important. Humility is also. When you make a mistake, you will be expected to correct it, learn from it, and not repeat it.
- Business Acumen – Some call it common sense, some call it wisdom. Whatever the title, employers want bookkeepers who make sound common sense decisions and run the business as if it were their own. Your daily decisions impact the profitability of the entire organization.
- Integrity – Business owners need bookkeepers they can trust without question. You must be able to keep your word and hold yourself to the highest possible ethical standards. Confidential employee and financial information will cross your path. Your work must be transparent, auditable, and above reproach.
Bookkeeping Jobs – The Center of Small Business
Bookkeeping jobs are demanding and stressful at times, but they are also very rewarding. Especially in smaller but growing businesses you have the opportunity to have a significant impact.
A skilled bookkeeper often functions as a key manager, with more operational influence than you could expect to find elsewhere without a higher degree.
If you are considering a career in accounting, bookkeeping jobs are a great way to gain experience and insight before pursuing a degree beyond the associate level. You will learn managerial skills and gain insight into nearly every aspect of business operation just by mastering bookkeeping in a small company.