Bookkeepers, also known as accounting clerks keep track of basic financial records. Their main functions are to keep track of accounting records including expenditures, receipts, accounts receivable/payable, and whether or not the business is profitable. Bookkeepers can be found in all industries and in businesses of all sizes. Bookkeepers who work in small businesses often have a wide range of responsibilities and record all transactions.
In addition to recording financial transactions they usually create financial reports for the business’s managers and owners. They also perform payroll functions, create invoices and track accounts that are overdue.
In larger companies bookkeepers usually have specialized tasks which is often reflected in the name of their title such as accounts payable clerk or accounts receivable clerk. Regardless of job title all bookkeeping clerks must be proficient in using financial software such as QuickBooks and Peachtree.
Most bookkeeping clerks work regular business hours Monday – Friday 8 am – 5 pm or some similar variation. They may be required to work longer hours during important times of the year such as fiscal year-end, tax time, and month-end reporting.
The majority of bookkeeping jobs require an associate’s degree in bookkeeping or accounting. Common courses include:
- Principles of Accounting
- Business and Payroll Tax Accounting
- Federal Income Taxes
- Computerized Accounting
- Fraud and Accounting Information Systems
- Business Mathematics
Most two-year accounting/bookkeeping programs operate under the auspices of a community college. To increase odds of employment students can earn an industry certification from the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers. This industry designation assures employers that the bookkeepers have the required skills to be successful on the job.
The job outlook is expected to be fairly positive through 2018. Recent employment data released by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics projects job growth to be at least 10%. Growth is expected to be driven by retirement and business expansion requiring the need for more positions.
As the economy grows more financial transactions will take place requiring trained bookkeeping skills. Also, as accounting and bookkeeping standards continue to tighten in an era of increased financial transparency the need for bookkeepers should continue to rise. While more jobs are expected to be created because of these various factors the main growth will come from current bookkeepers retiring and leaving the workforce.
The median annual wage for a bookkeeper, accounting clerk, and auditing clerk is $33,000. Wages vary dramatically based on geographical region, experience, and industry. The middle 50% earned between $26,500 and $41,000.
Students who have a two-year associate’s in bookkeeping or accounting along with experience should be positioned well to get the highest paying positions. The more skills a bookkeeper has the more likely they will be hired as organizations are asking people to perform a wider range of bookkeeping functions in order to save on personnel costs.