How to become a bookkeeper in less than a year

We get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. Here's more on how we make money.

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.

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. Some bookkeepers earn $75 per hour from home, making their own hours.

Our No. 1 recommendation for learning how to become a bookkeeper, as well as launch a profitable bookkeeping business, is Bookkeeper Launch, founded by a CPA and taken by more than 8,000 people, many of whom have launched six-figure bookkeeping businesses.

Check out this A+ BBB company and see if bookkeeping is a good fit for you with this free Bookkeeper Launch course >>

Before you decide to look for work-from-home bookkeeping job opportunities, it’s smart to learn more about the job and what it entails.

Keep reading to learn how to become a bookkeeper and how much entry-level bookkeepers get paid.

How to become a bookkeeper in less than a year in 3 steps

  1. Find an online training program that fits your schedule.
  2. Look for internships or on-the-job opportunities to gain experience while you’re in training.
  3. Look for job opportunities, both “near me” and remote.

How to become a bookkeeper in less than a year: Find a highly-related 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. 

1. Udemy

Udemy is an online educational platform that offers thousands of courses on hundreds of subjects, including bookkeeping. These courses are typically inexpensive, between $50 and $100 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: Understanding the Fundamentals program is an excellent place to start. It costs $75 and has a rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars, based on more than 15,000 customer reviews.

Time required to become a bookkeeper with this training program: 

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 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.

2. Coursera

Coursera is another online learning platform which, like Udemy, hosts courses about a range of subjects, including bookkeeping. This content is typically created from other educators, who are passionate or knowledgeable about the area of focus.

For example, Intuit, a company that sells popular accounting software TurboTax and QuickBooks, offers two training programs on Coursera for free. The first, Bookkeeping Basics, is designed to teach you the ropes as a beginner. It has a score of 4.5 out of 5 stars based on 322 reviews. The second, Intuit Bookkeeping Professional Certificate, is a bit more technical and has a score of 4.4 out of 5 stars based on 369 reviews. Both are free to enroll in, making them a great free way to gain exposure to bookkeeping.

Time required to become a bookkeeper with this training program: 

Bookkeeping Basics takes about 16 hours to complete, and the Intuit Bookkeeping Professional Certificate takes about 4 months to complete at the suggested pace of 4 hours per week.

3. 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 again be a good option for anyone who is just getting started.

The course can be purchased for a one-time fee of $34.99. If you subscribe to LinkedIn Learning (at a cost of about $30 per month) you will have access to the course as a part of your subscription. It comes with a 30-day money back guarantee, can be accessed through your computer, tablet, or mobile phone, and consists of 34 videos.

Time required to become a bookkeeper with this training program: 

Accounting Foundations: Bookkeeping takes just over 1.5 hours to complete. 

4. 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

The cost for each of these certifications ranges from $399 for nonmembers, or $319 for members of the NACPB. You can also bundle courses to save 36% as a member and 20% as a nonmember. 

Because the NACPB is known in the field, completing their training can be beneficial.

Time required to become a bookkeeper with this training program: 

Most courses range in length from 7 to 13 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. 

5. Bookkeepers.com

Bookkeepers.com was originally known as Bookkeeper Launch — the first course they offered specifically designed to walk aspiring bookkeepers through every step of launching their own business.

Bookkeeper Launch is still the flagship product, but Bookkeepers.com has expanded into additional offerings, including a free bookkeeping workshop specifically geared toward individuals who are launching a bookkeeping business. The free course is taught by Ben Robinson, CPA, founder of bookkeepers.com.

In addition to their free training, Bookkeepers.com 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

Prices for paid courses range from $97 to $3499

Time required to become a bookkeeper with this training program:

The Bookkeeper Launch System is made of multiple courses that total about 64 hours of coursework (suggested pacing is 90 days).

Get the details in our Bookkeeper Launch review.

How to become a bookkeeper in less than a year: Look for internships or on-the-job opportunities.

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. According to Glassdoor, an assistant bookkeeper makes an average base pay of $17 an hour. 

How to become a bookkeeper in less than a year: 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.

Researchers from Ladders, a career site for jobs that pay $100,000 or more, project that 25% of all jobs in the U.S. will be remote by the end of 2023. That’s up from about 4% before the start of the pandemic. 

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.

The first is reaching out to local businesses and networking to see if you can connect with another business owner who has a need.

Also, make sure to update your LinkedIn profile to reflect your bookkeeping skills and desire for work. That way, you 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.

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.com

FlexJobs is an online membership site that posts work-from-home, career-level jobs. A search for bookkeeping positions on Flexjobs brings up dozens of freelance, part-time, and full-time jobs posted in the last 30 days. Most openings are remote, but some hybrid positions are available. 

Upwork

Upwork is a site built for freelancers and the people who want to hire them. When you join, you get to set your own pay rate. There are currently 1,800+ bookkeeping jobs posted on Upwork, some seeking full- or part-time employees and others seeking contractors for short- or long-term projects. 

ZipRecruiter

When you search for jobs on ZipRecruiter using your location, you’ll get a mix of bookkeeping jobs nearby and remote options. You can also toggle the Remote button if you exclusively want to find virtual positions. The list of bookkeeping jobs on ZipRecruiter includes full-time, part-time, and contract positions. 

FAQs about how to become a bookkeeper

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.

Freelance bookkeepers and those who own their own bookkeeping businesses often report that the variety and types of business 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:

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!

How much money can you make as a bookkeeper?

Bookkeeper Launch, a course run by CPA Ben Robbinson, reports many of the students who have taken his course earn $75 per hour.

As of January 2022, ZipRecruiter reports the national average income for a freelance bookkeeper in the United States is $55,094 per year, or $26 per hour, with higher earners making nearly $100,000.

Bookkeepers on salary, according to ZipRecruiter, earn an average of $40,406 per year, or $19 per hour, with top earners reaching $60,000.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook lists the median annual wage for bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks as $42,410 as of May 2020, the most recent data available.

Bookkeeping salary outlook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What skills, degrees, or qualifications do you need to be a bookkeeper?

One of the beautiful things about owning your own bookkeeping business is that you do not need any specific 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.

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.

Get started with a bookkeeping at-home business with Bookkeeper Launch now >>

Related:

If you're great with words, detail and grammar, you may also be interested in a proofreading career, which can pay $15-$30 hour from home, on your schedule. Learn more about what it takes to get started in proofreading and land your first client.

Bookkeeping not a fit? We have a list of jobs that pay well and do not require a degree. Also, check out these related posts:

How to become a graphic designer

How to become a coder (high paying and you can work from home)

How to become a medical biller and coder

Top at-home career-level jobs for moms

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.

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: learning and using bookkeeping software, keep track of client payments, produce financial reports, and more.

How much money can you make as a bookkeeper?

As of January 2022, ZipRecruiter reports the national average income for a freelance bookkeeper in the United States is $55,094 per year, or $26 per hour, with higher earners making nearly $100,000.

Holly Johnson is a financial expert, award-winning writer, and Indiana mother of two who is obsessed with frugality, budgeting and travel. Her personal finance articles have been published in the U. S. News, Wall Street Journal, Fox Business, and Life Hacker. Holly is founder of of the family finance resource, ClubThrifty.com, and is the co-author of Zero Down Your Debt: Reclaim Your Income and Build a Life You’ll Love. Learn more about Holly here.

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.