What is a bookkeeper?

Bookkeeping Careers & Qualifications

Every business by law must ‘keep the books’ – hence the term bookkeeping. But what do you know about bookkeepers? Ever wondered:

  • What tasks they do every day?
  • Why they are highly sought-after?
  • What opportunities there are for qualified bookkeepers?

Good bookkeeping is essential business maintenance. In short, a bookkeeper keeps track of monies coming into and out of the business. By maintaining accurate financial records, bookkeepers help SMEs and micro businesses:

  • Prepare for year-end tax and VAT returns
  • Keep on top of day-to-day cash flow
  • Efficiently run their finances

Traditionally, bookkeepers kept paper records of business transactions. Today, a bookkeeper’s tasks are diverse and highly sophisticated – requiring skilled knowledge.

If you are considering a career  in bookkeeping, please click on our infographic below to view the top reasons to become a bookkeeper.

What’s on a bookkeeper’s ‘to do’ list?

As well as keeping a financial ‘paper trail’ to balance the accounts, a bookkeeper’s role is extensive. Here’s just a snapshot of different tasks undertaken:

  • Purchase orders and invoicing
  • Sales accounting and credit control
  • Cash and banking admin
  • Completing VAT returns
  • Data processing
  • Payroll accounting

On top of this, bookkeepers use data to prepare financial statements – ensuring annual returns are smoothly administered.

And because qualified bookkeepers are experts at accounting ledger systems, they help business owners stay in complete control of their finances.

How to get qualified … and what opportunities there are

You can study a range of level 1-4 bookkeeping, payroll and accounting qualifications through the IAB. As well as flexible study options, you can also get on-the-job training through an apprenticeship.

Afterwards, with recognised qualifications under your belt, you can opt to:

  • Enrol onto a degree course to further your accountancy career
  • Set up a lucrative business as a Registered Bookkeeper™ – providing financial skills to a host of industries
  • Secure a job as a bookkeeper or payroll clerk in a local accountancy practice

Whether you’ve just left school, you’re ready for a career change or want to extend your skills, bookkeeping qualifications open new doors to a better future.

Bookkeeper and accountant… What’s the difference?

In essence, bookkeepers are technical wizards! They set up and oversee day-to-day record keeping in a client’s business – then monitor the accounts ensuring they are up-to-date.

By comparison, it’s the accountant’s job to interpret bookkeeping data to assess whether a business is running efficiently. Without well-kept books to refer to, an accountant can’t give invaluable tax and financial advice to business owners.

So if you’re meticulous, have a head for numbers and enjoy problem-solving, bookkeeping offers you countless career choices.

Ready to find out more?

Check out the four steps to starting a new career in bookkeeping here. For further enquiries or to talk to one of our advisers, contact the IAB team.