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How to become a bookkeeper (no experience needed!) in 2024

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In a lot of ways, “bookkeeping” is exactly what it sounds like it would be. It is the act of “keeping books” — or keeping track of financial transactions for a business, individual or organization.

Traditionally, bookkeepers are the professionals charged with creating and tracking financial documents for the company they work for. These workers record financial details, update financial statements, and read over financial documents for accuracy. If there is a problem or miscalculation within an organization’s accounting or books, it is the bookkeeper’s job to find and fix it.

Keep reading to learn:

Or, if you’re ready to get started, check out our No. 1 recommendation for learning how to become a bookkeeper, as well as launch a profitable bookkeeping business, is Bookkeepers.com (formerly Bookkeeper Launch), an A+ BBB rated and accredited business founded by a CPA and taken by more than 12,000 people. See if bookkeeping is a good fit for you with a free Bookkeeper Launch course >>

1) How to become a bookkeeper: Find an online training course

Online bookkeeping courses allow you to learn the business on your own timeline. Even if you have no formal education, you can get a bookkeeping certification online to present to future clients and employers. 

Here are some options for online bookkeeper training:

Bookkeepers.com

Bookkeepers.com is the first course specifically designed to help you:

  • Learn bookkeeping skills
  • Start your own virtual bookkeeping business
  • Grow your client list through marketing efforts
  • Scale your business to serve more clients efficiently
  • Maximize opportunities to offer additional services through e-learning
  • Add value beyond financial statements and transaction support, such as offering financial advisory services or tax preparation.

Bookkeeper Launch is still the flagship product, but Bookkeepers.com also offers a number of paid online courses. The topics range from basic to more advanced topics:

  • Cybersecurity for Bookkeepers
  • Marketing Machine
  • Build a 6-Figure Bookkeeping Business
  • Outstanding Processes & People (OPP)
  • Pricing & Packaging
  • New Client Onboarding
  • Advisory Services

Price:

Paid courses range from $97 to $2,995. You can get started with Bookkeeper Launch for as low as $249 per month for one year with unlimited access and updates.

Time required:

The Bookkeeper Launch System is made of multiple courses that total 58 hours (suggested pacing is 90 days at a rate of about 5 hours per week). Get the details in our Bookkeeper Launch review or sign up for their FREE courses now >>

Coursera

Coursera is an online learning platform that hosts courses about a range of subjects, including bookkeeping, such as Intuit’s Bookkeeping Basics, which is designed to teach you the ropes as a beginner. It has a score of 4.6 out of 5 stars based on 4,214 reviews. 

Bookkeeping Basics is part of the four-course Intuit Bookkeeping Professional Certificate, and has a score of 4.6 out of 5 stars based on 4,940 reviews.

Bookkeeping Basics is an introductory course, but it’s not enough to get started in bookkeeping as a career. For that, you’ll want to go for the Intuit Bookkeeping Professional Certificate which prepares you to take the Intuit Academy Bookkeeping exam and get certified to demonstrate your competence to future clients.

You’ll learn:

  • The basics of bookkeeping, from accounting tasks and responsibilities to ensuring the integrity and security of financial data
  • How to understand common assets among businesses, depreciation, financial control and transaction recording
  • How to identify liabilities and equity types, understand payroll functions, and analyze the financial position of a business
  • How to reconcile cash and help clients make decision based on financial data

Unlike Bookkeepers.com, there is no help to launch a virtual bookkeeping business, but you can take advantage of free resume help, interview preparation, and use Coursera’s job search if you prefer to work for a company.

Price:

Free 7-day trial. Then, $49 per month until you cancel or pay $399 for one year. 14-day money-back guarantee. Financial aid available.

Time required:

Bookkeeping Basics takes about 16 hours to complete, and the Intuit Bookkeeping Professional Certificate takes two months to complete at the suggested pace of ten hours per week.

Udemy

Udemy is another online educational platform that offers thousands of courses on hundreds of subjects, including bookkeeping. These courses are typically inexpensive, between $50 and $200 on average. This makes them ideal for those who are on a budget, or who are perhaps interested in learning the basics before paying for a more advanced course.

The Bookkeeping Basics #1: Understand the Fundamentals program is an excellent place to start. It  has a rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars, based on more than 5,873 customer reviews.

This is an introductory course to bookkeeping. It’s approved by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) and offers a continuing professional education (CPE) credit of 7.0. At least 40 CPE credits are required by certified public accountants (CPAs) each year to achieve compliance.

The course includes practical, hands-on assignments 

Price: 

$149.99 (Udemy often offers steep discounts) or you can sign up for a monthly plan starting at $20 after a 7-day free trial and a 30-day money back guarantee.

Time required:

The course above takes 4.5 hours to complete and introduces the basics of bookkeeping. There are two follow-up courses in this series that take 3.5 hours and 5 hours each. You could spend as little as a few hours or weeks taking Udemy’s various bookkeeping courses. 

Since these courses are fairly short, they may not be enough to help you launch a career right away, but you can get your feet wet and see if bookkeeping is a potential fit.

LinkedIn Learning

LinkedIn Learning is an online education platform run by the social media company LinkedIn. It used to be known as Lynda.com. LinkedIn Learning offers thousands of online courses and certifications which, once complete, you can display on your LinkedIn profile. This makes them a great option for professionals who actively use LinkedIn to network and job hunt.

LinkedIn Learning offers Accounting Foundations: Bookkeeping, which can be a good option for anyone who is just getting started or a professional who needs to sharpen skills or gain NASBA CPE credits (this course offers 2.8 CPE credits).

The course is self-paced and features video instruction.

You’ll learn:

  • How to analyze transactions
  • How to record the effects of the transactions
  • How to summarize the impact of those transactions
  • How to prepare a financial report

Completing this course can improve your understanding of bookkeeping, but you’ll need more training to get started with bookkeeping as a career. To help you, LinkedIn Learning offers a bookkeeping learning path to help you learn the craft and earn a certificate of completion that you can use to market your skills.

These courses deal strictly with education but do not offer business launch, marketing, or scaling support like Bookkeepers.com.

Price:

You can buy this course for $34.99. Or, subscribe to LinkedIn Learning and get a one-month free trial and pay $39.99 per month or $19.99 per month with an annual subscription. You’ll have access to all courses as a part of your subscription. 30-day money-back guarantee. Access courses via computer, tablet, or mobile phone.

Time required:

This course takes just over 1.5 hours to complete.

NACPB

The National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers (NACPB) is a professional organization that caters to bookkeepers. The organization offers a number of different training programs for bookkeepers, including:

  • Accounting Fundamentals
  • Payroll Fundamentals 
  • QuickBooks Online Fundamentals 
  • Accounting Principles

You can access these courses through the NACPB Education Pathway. These courses offer CPE credits and are for those who want to learn the skill of bookkeeping as well as professionals pursuing continuing education. NACPB is known in the field, so completing their training can be beneficial to get started in your bookkeeping career NACPB also offers a Bookkeeping Certification to obtain the Certified Public Bookkeeper (CPB) license. 

Completing a course can increase your knowledge of bookkeeping, but to prepare for a career, go for the certification so you can obtain the license. You’ll have the CPB credential to add to your credibility as you pursue jobs or start your own virtual bookkeeping business.

Price:

Certifications and courses start at $100. NACPB members get 20% off. An annual NACPB membership starts at $200 (there is a pro membership for $250). 14-day money back guarantee.

Time required:

Most courses range in length from seven to 14 weeks (if you take one session per week). However, all NACPB courses are self-guided, so you could realistically complete any course in less time.

Colleges and universities

A number of colleges and universities offer online and in-person training and certificate programs to become a professional bookkeeper. Search online for “college bookkeeping classes near me” or “online college bookkeeping classes” to find available programs.

Here are a few examples:

  • Cornell University offers eCornell, an online learning platform that offers a self-paced accounting certificate course that is interactive and provides access to a community of like-minded students 
  • Penn Foster offers an online diploma in bookkeeping you can take on your own time and pace
  • Ashworth College has an online bookkeeping course to prepare you for the NACPB bookkeeper certification exam

Costs and completion times vary and are set by each institution. Contact the school directly to learn more.

2) How to become a bookkeeper: Look for internships or on-the-job opportunities while in training

Experience is key in any job market, and bookkeeping is no exception. Aspiring bookkeepers will benefit from finding a paid internship or an entry-level bookkeeping position like a bookkeeping assistant while they complete their training. 

Taking on an entry-level bookkeeping job can allow you to focus on learning the business without juggling the demands of another job. Some companies might offer paid internships.

Here’s how to find bookkeeping internships and on-the-job opportunities while you learn:

  • Check with your training program – Ask your student services office for help on finding a business that will give you a chance to practice your skills 
  • Leverage LinkedIn – Ensure you update your LinkedIn profile to show you are seeking bookkeeping opportunities and engage with companies
  • Use job boards – Search FlexJobs, Indeed, and other online career portals to look for leads
  • Join a bookkeeping organization – Membership often has perks like career assistance
  • Contact local firms – Research firms in your area that are looking for bookkeepers and contact them to ask about part-time or internship opportunities
  • Attend career fairs – Look for fairs with financial companies in attendance and network with the representatives
  • Use an app – Apps like Handshake, Tallo, and Parker Dewey can help you find internship opportunities and freelance gigs in your field

3) How to become a bookkeeper: Find job opportunities “near me” and remote

While many large companies employ a bookkeeper full-time, smaller companies often hire part-time or freelance bookkeepers to help with finances and accounting. Many individual entrepreneurs also hire virtual bookkeepers to help them stay on top of their cash flow and prepare quarterly income tax payments. Some individuals hire bookkeepers.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook (BLS OOH), the demand for bookkeeping is expected to decline by 6% through 2032.1 This data refers to in-house bookkeeping jobs.

BLS data on remote jobs projects that accountants and auditors (professions parallel to bookkeeping) are the fastest growing careers among business and financial operations telework.2

Whether you’re looking for a bookkeeping job “near me” or you’d like to find a remote opportunity, there are several strategies and tips for finding a part-time or full-time bookkeeping job:

  • Reach out to local businesses to network to connect with a business owner who needs bookkeeping services
  • Ask your friends and family if they know anyone looking for bookkeeping support
  • Update your LinkedIn profile to reflect your bookkeeping skills and desire for work so your profile will show up in searches if someone looks for a bookkeeper in your area

Bookkeeper Launch has a whole section on finding jobs online, including specifically on LinkedIn.

This video shows why virtual bookkeeping is a great career, especially for single moms who want to work from home:

If you're first starting out, or you want flexible work, part-time or freelance bookkeeping jobs might be for you. You can find entry-level bookkeeping jobs online at a number of job sites, including:

  • FlexJobs
  • ZipRecruiter
  • Indeed 
  • Networking events near you 
  • Small business organizations in your community 
  • LinkedIn
  • Through marketing efforts including social media, newspaper ads and bus stops

FAQs about bookkeeping as a profession

What does a bookkeeper do?

Bookkeepers help business owners to maintain their business’ financial records. This can include recording sales, revenue, and expenses, check statements for accuracy, verify receipts, billing and account receivables and payroll.

Some bookkeepers work on staff, though it’s increasingly common to work as an independent bookkeeper — especially small or new businesses. Many bookkeepers have multiple clients at the same time.

Who are good candidates to become a bookkeeper?

If you love numbers and math and actually enjoy tracking data in spreadsheets, a career as a bookkeeper can be a great fit for moms — especially since these high-paying jobs are often available on a part-time basis, as a work-at-home side job.

What kinds of tasks do bookkeepers do?

While the exact role of a bookkeeper can depend on the specific job they’re doing, these professionals focus on tasks that help businesses and individuals keep their finances organized. Common job duties bookkeepers perform include:

  1. Learn and use bookkeeping software, databases, and spreadsheets, including Excel, Quickbooks, and Freshbooks
  2. Enter important financial transactions into the appropriate bookkeeping software
  3. Monitor and keep track of client payments
  4. Keep track of business expenses via bookkeeping software
  5. Reconcile discrepancies found in financial records
  6. Produce financial reports
  7. Help clients keep track of receipts that document their expenses
  8. Check financial records for accuracy
  9. Help clients stay on top of their taxes, including withholding or quarterly tax payments

A bookkeeper who is self-employed running her own bookkeeping business may take on a broader range of duties than their peers. They will likely have to track their own finances including income and expenses, for example. They will also be required to make their own tax payments and make sure their business remains in compliance with local and state law.

Self-employed bookkeepers will also need to learn how to market their businesses to attract and keep new clients — not to mention keep their own books!

FAQs about a bookkeeper's earning potential

Can you make good money as a bookkeeper?

Yes, you can make good money as a bookkeeper, and the profession has even greater earning potential as you gain experience. If you pursue a virtual practice, you’ll set your own competitive rates.

Bookkeepers.com’s Bookkeeper Launch, a course run by CPA Ben Robinson, reports many of its students earn $75 per hour in their freelance bookkeeping business.

If you pursue a position at a business, instead of freelancing, the hourly or salary-based pay will be set by the employer and can vary.

How much money can you make as a bookkeeper?

According to the BLS OOH, the median salary for a bookkeeper is $45,860 per year, or $22.05 per hour.3 

As of February 2024, ZipRecruiter reports the national average income for a bookkeeper in the United States is $50,573 per year, or $24 per hour, with higher earners making around $74,000.4

Earning potential for bookkeepers according to the BLS OOH.

Who needs bookkeepers?

Bookkeepers are hired by every single kind of business, nonprofit, and government agency. Many larger organizations hire full-time bookkeepers on staff. Many accountants, CPAs and tax preparers also work with bookkeepers to help support their clients.

Freelance bookkeepers and those who own their own bookkeeping businesses often report that the variety and types of businesses and organizations they support is one of the best parts of bookkeeping. This post details how to start a bookkeeping business, and find and grow clients.

Erin Bardsley was a newly divorced single mom in Vermont, and needed a new career.

Erin says that she loves that she helps a bakery, yoga studio, and an arts non-profit — especially since they are local businesses in her local community. Today she earns $70 per hour and is killing it as a bookkeeper:

FAQs about how to become a bookkeeper

What qualifications do I need to be a bookkeeper?

To get started as a bookkeeper, you do not need a college degree or a bookkeeper certification. These qualifications can help but are not necessary. You just need to be able to demonstrate that you have the skills to handle the tasks your clients need.

These skills are required to be a successful bookkeeper, whether you have your own business, or get a staff job with another company:

  1. Attention to detail
  2. Math
  3. Problem solving
  4. Ability to see the big picture
  5. Facility with technology
  6. Commitment to technology
  7. Great communicators (clients trust you with their bank account information, and trust vendors who respond quickly and thoroughly)
  8. For entrepreneurs: Good at networking, and gaining the trust of new clients

Most bookkeeper clients will look for some or all of these specific, hard skills:

  1. Spreadsheets — typically Microsoft Excel
  2. Quickbooks, or other popular accounting / bookkeeping software
  3. Basic accounting
  4. Basic understanding of bookkeeping ethics and law

In addition to technical skill, certain personality traits can also help you stand out:

  1. Having excellent attention to detail is a must for bookkeepers since they need to ensure accuracy of financial transactions and a wide range of important figures.
  2. Computer and math skills are also required since you’ll be computing numbers regularly with the help of bookkeeping software programs.
  3. The ability to communicate effectively is important since you’ll need to interact and discuss financial matters with either an employer or your clients.

Do I need a college degree in bookkeeping?

A college degree isn’t necessary to become a bookkeeper. No experience is necessary to take classes to learn bookkeeping skills. Eventually, you might want to pursue a bookkeeping certification to demonstrate your competence and increase the legitimacy of your virtual bookkeeping business.

Can I teach myself to be a bookkeeper?

You can become a self-taught bookkeeper using an online course like Bookkeeper Launch. It’s a self-paced course that teaches you the basics and helps guide you on setting up your business successfully.

Is a bookkeeping certificate worth it?

One of the beautiful things about owning your own bookkeeping business is that you do not need any specific bookkeeping certification, degree, or formal training to get started.

Coursework through a community college, or online courses like Bookkeeper Launch will teach you the basics to help you get that first job.

However, having a certification can be helpful when you are building your client base. It shows potential clients that you have taken extra steps to serve their needs.

How long does it take to become a bookkeeper?

With the Bookkeeper Launch course, you can train to become a bookkeeper in as few as 90 days. Each bookkeeping course varies in terms of completion time but most options take less than a year.

Bottom line: You can learn to become a bookkeeper in less than a year and launch a new career

Thousands of people enjoy successful bookkeeping careers, and many of them launch businesses that give them flexibility, freedom of location, a good salary, and the satisfaction of working with successful, interesting entrepreneurs. 

Online courses like Bookkeeper Launch can help you:

  • Gain skills to become a bookkeeper with no prior experience
  • Leverage tools and systems to work efficiently
  • Learn how to market yourself to gain clients
  • Grow your client base over time
  • Connect with other bookkeeping business owners to build a sense of community
  • Scale your business and expand your services as your grow

Bookkeepers.com is an excellent resource to help you launch and maintain a successful bookkeeping business. It offers free courses to give you an idea of what you can expect from a bookkeeping career, so you can determine if it's a good fit. Get started FREE courses from Bookkeepers.com now >>

Related: Bookkeeping not a fit? We have a list of jobs that pay well and do not require a degree.

What does a bookkeeper do?

Bookkeepers help business owners to maintain their business’ financial records. This can include recording sales, revenue, and expenses, check statements for accuracy, verify receipts, billing and account receivables and payroll.

Can you make good money as a bookkeeper?

Yes, you can make good money as a bookkeeper, and the profession has even greater earning potential as you gain experience. If you pursue a virtual practice, you’ll set your own competitive rates.

How much money can you make as a bookkeeper?

According to the BLS OOH, the median salary for a bookkeeper is $45,860 per year, or $22.05 per hour.

Who needs bookkeepers?

Bookkeepers are hired by every single kind of business, non-profit and government agency. Many larger organizations hire full-time bookkeepers on staff. Many accountants, CPAs and tax preparers also work with bookkeepers to help support their clients.

Sources:

  1. “Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks” Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook September 6, 2023 https://www.bls.gov/ooh/office-and-administrative-support/bookkeeping-accounting-and-auditing-clerks.htm
  2. “Working from home: Outlook and wages in occupations with telework” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics career Outlook September 2022 https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2022/article/telework.htm
  3. “Quick Facts: Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks” Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook September 6, 2023 https://www.bls.gov/ooh/office-and-administrative-support/bookkeeping-accounting-and-auditing-clerks.htm
  4. “Freelance Bookkeeper Salary” ZipRecruiter https://www.ziprecruiter.com/Salaries/Freelance-Bookkeeper-Salarykeeper-Salary

2 Comments

Hate to be Debbie Downer but I wish I hadn’t read posts like this when I needed to change careers. I’m good with numbers, but what jobs are you talking about? This can be a wild goose chase for lots of people who simply want to work and need work and are good with numbers (and spent time and money taking classes, and earning their bookkeeping certification and accounting fundamentals certification.) Beware any of these “bookkeeping is hot” especially if the next post is about blogging / making money at home writing (uh, I was a professsional writer for years, the Internet broke that, where now it pays $2 for 500 words with research and copyediting your own work and what not.)

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