Bookkeeper Job Duties and Career Options

Bookkeepers require little formal education. Learn about the training, job duties and optional certification to see if this is the right career for you.

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Essential Information

Bookkeepers record financial transactions for businesses and organizations. They are tasked with writing daybooks, keeping track of credit lines and fixing accounting discrepancies. To prepare for this career, aspiring bookkeepers need a high school diploma and on-the-job training, although individuals can take college-level courses in accounting to improve their career prospects. Bookkeepers can seek voluntary certification from the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB) or the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers (NACPB).

Required Education High school diploma with on-the-job training; some college coursework in accounting or business preferred
Certification Optional certification through the AIPB and NACPB
Projected Job Growth 11% from 2012-2022*
Median Salary (2013) $35,730 annually*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Bookkeeper Job Duties

Bookkeepers record financial transactions, such as revenues, expenses and costs. A bookkeeper must make sure all transactions are included in the accurate general ledger, customer ledger, suppliers ledger and daybook. Bookkeepers also prepare bank deposits, keep track of overdue accounts, prepare invoices, make purchases and handle payroll issues. Accountants use information prepared by the bookkeeper to produce balance sheets and income statements.

More experienced bookkeepers may also be asked to prepare reports or produce financial statements. In fact, is not uncommon for some bookkeepers to take on the role of accountants for smaller organizations that do not keep an accountant on staff. Bookkeepers should be knowledgeable in preparing income statements and balance sheets, fraud prevention, basic payroll procedures such as wages and taxes, correcting accounting errors, merchandise inventory and adjusting entries.

Career Options

Employment settings for bookkeepers vary greatly, from government agencies and educational services to restaurants and hotels. Organizations commonly offer bookkeepers room for advancement toward finance, accounting, managerial or supervisory positions. Bookkeepers also have the option to become certified through the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB). This certification requires bookkeepers have two years of experience and pass a 4-part examination.

A number of colleges and technical schools offer programs preparing bookkeepers for certification, covering topics such as financial accounting, introductory auditing, principles of management and human resources management. Bookkeepers must renew certification every three years through continuing education courses and programs.

The National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers also offers a certification that requires passing a multiple-choice test.

Bookkeepers, along with accounting and auditing clerks, are expected to see employment growth of 11% between 2012 and 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). The BLS also reports these occupations had median annual earnings of $35,730 in May 2013. Bookkeepers are only required to have high school degree. However, postsecondary education in areas such as accounting or business is often preferred.

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    • Illinois (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Northwestern University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Coursework
      • Post Degree Certificate: Post Master's Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Business
      • Accounting and Bookkeeping
        • Bookkeeping
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    • Illinois (2 campuses)
    Areas of study you may find at Northwestern College include:
      • Non-Degree: Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate
    • Business
      • Accounting and Bookkeeping
        • Bookkeeping
      • Business Management and Operations
      • Business Support and Administrative Services
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    • Idaho (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Boise State University include:
      • Graduate: Master
      • Non-Degree: Certificate, Coursework, Diploma
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Business
      • Accounting and Bookkeeping
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  • School locations:
    • Montana (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at The University of Montana include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Business
      • Accounting and Bookkeeping
        • Bookkeeping
      • Business Economics
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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics