By Gladys Mae
Gladys is the Associate Director of Admissions & Student Services with over 10 years of experience at the International Career Institute.
Bookkeeping and accounting often get used interchangeable, however there are a few differences between the two. Both accountants and bookkeepers are essential to the successful operation of a business, and both are great assets to the financial side of things. However some people will refer to an accountant as a ‘giant sifter’, with bookkeepers being the process of pouring stuff into the sifter. You can’t be an accountant without being a great bookkeeper. So what skills do you need to be a great bookkeeper? Here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re thinking about becoming a bookkeeper.
Having great computer skills is a necessity when working as a bookkeeper. Knowing how to keep up with technology and being able to add in data in an accurate and timely manner is going to benefit you greatly. Touch typing skills are an added bonus that will save you time in the long haul. If you have trouble with new software changes, technology upgrades, or learning these kinds of skills quickly, you may find that you will struggle slightly with this kind of role.
If working in a large company, you may be required to work alongside accountants and other departments within the company that may require your assistance. Being able to communicate with everyone easily and effectively will make your job (and everyone else’s) a lot easier. Whether it be face-to-face communication or phone and email, being able to communicate effectively is essential to the role.
It goes without saying that you should have a great knowledge of bookkeeping, and where necessary, the essential qualifications. Understanding accounting language and having the skills and education to undertake your role is a huge part of the role. You can gain qualifications from courses and schools all across the country and they will all help in your path to gaining a role as a bookkeeper.
If you’re the type of person that gets sweet relief from organising files and numbers, then you would be perfect as a bookkeeper. Being able to organise and maintain financial records is essential to the role, and it certainly helps if you enjoy working in this kind of position. If you’re more of an “outdoors” person who hates sitting in front of a PC for extended hours looking at numbers and figures, bookkeeping might not be for you.
If you work fast, you need to also be accurate. If you like looking at the details of a project and making sure no leaf is left overturned, this is definitely going to help you in your role as a bookkeeper. Paying attention to detail not only makes for accurate workings and numbers, it also means less issues and hassles in the future for both yourself and your colleagues. Understanding that a simple mistake in one area can cause bigger issues down the track is needed to ensure you perform well in your role.
It’s all well and good to understand the cost of equipment or a new employee, but do you know how this will affect the business six months from now? Or 12 months from now? Understanding how a decision that’s made now can affect the bigger scheme of things, and how a payment or purchase will affect the daily runnings of the company later on down the track, is going to make you a great asset to the company.
It’s easy to say you’ll get to a project or job when you can, but ensuring you actually follow through with it and make sure it is completed is another story. It’s important to understand that the role of the bookkeeper is relied upon by other areas of the company, and the company’s’ financial records are at stake. Being able to say that you will take on a project and complete it within a timeframe specified means that you can be reliable in your position.
Once you have the skills and knowledge to be a great bookkeeper, it doesn’t stop there. To keep up to date with many changes and updates that happen in this field of work, you should have an interest in learning more about the position and furthering your education when the opportunity arises. This may be in the form of short courses, or even a degree to become an accountant. You may also want to explore mentoring options as a means of gaining more hands-on experience. Wanting to work well and understand more will only work to improving your career prospects in the long run.
Showing that you are committed to your role is one thing, but showing you are committed to a business or company and their bookkeeping is essential. You will need to show that you are committed to providing the skills and outcomes for the business, and you aren’t going to just “squeeze them in” when you get around to it. This is especially true if you work part-time for a business. Showing you are dedicated to a business and their needs not only improves your work ethic, but also the relationship between you and the company.
Showing a business that you have all of these skills and traits will ensure that your client is a happy one. With so many changes happening in the industry and a business always going through many changes financially and with its daily runnings, it’s important to be flexible yet committed to providing a great bookkeeping service to your client.
If you think you have what it takes to be a bookkeeper, check out the courses available from ICI now.