Bookkeeping and life in Colombia

The IAB has thousands of members around the world who work in a range of different job roles and study an extensive range of courses with us. Our latest blog post is from Richard Spicer who speaks about his experiences of living and working in Colombia.

The IAB is keen to hear from our members around the world so if you would like to contribute please email Kelly at


The structure of the finance profession here in Colombia is very different from that in the UK. Bookkeepers study at College to obtain a Technical Labour Certification, there appears to be no recognised bookkeeping institute or association. Accountants take a degree at university and can then register with the National Public Accountants institute, a requirement if they are in practice.

The technical labour certification for bookkeepers is normally a one year course and requires typically 1080 hours of study including 80% of that time in the classroom. There is also a practical element, usually 200 hours working in a company. It was many years ago when I took a bookkeeping course but it seems a lot more work than I remember. For those of you studying a bookkeeping course at the moment do you have to put in as much time?

Once the qualification is achieved a bookkeeper can expect to earn between 600,000 and 1,000,000 Colombian Pesos (£200 to £335) per month. It is almost impossible for the ambitious individual to step up to the role of Accountant unless they take a University degree.

With this information, I decided not to look for work in Finance but to start a new career as an English teacher. There is an increasing demand for the language especially since a free trade agreement was signed with the US. I have continued to provide bookkeeping and accounting services to a few friends in the UK and work as an agent in Latin America for a Kosher food certification agency based in London. The work has allowed me to have a much better work-family life balance and the variety of jobs stops me slipping into a monotonous routine.

I have been speaking to a number of American friends who have been suggesting I should start a cloud or offshore accounting business. This type of business usually has an office in the client’s country and then an office in a country with cheaper labour costs. Do any members know of this type of business in the UK? Is this the future? If you are in practice, is it a threat to your business?

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