Overview

The role of a bookkeeper is broadly similar to that of an accountant in terms of everyday tasks but may lack formal responsibility for tax returns, focusing more on the day to day finances of small to medium sized businesses and therefore often requiring less formal qualifications. Bookkeeping courses are easy to access and can often be completed via home learning.

Your day to day tasks may include processing payroll, arranging payments of accounts and invoices, carrying out bank reconciliations and preparing financial documents and reports. You will require a sound understanding of numbers, good IT proficiency and organizational skills, analytical thinking and the ability to compile and present detailed and accurate reports, often to tight deadlines.

Something else to consider is that many companies are happy to take on a freelance bookkeeper, meaning that if you are good at what you do and you can generate recommendations, you may well have the key to working from home!

In terms of outlook for the future, bookkeeping is predicted to be one of the slower growing industries, so if this is your choice, you need to be sure that you can be the best at it. Your resume should be skills focused and highlight numeracy, organization, presentation and communication. You also need to be trustworthy and have good sound references.

Pay

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics states the median pay for bookkeepers is around $37,000 per year,  and popular salary aggregator site pay scale.com states a somewhat higher median salary of a little over $40,000 per year.

Hourly rates can vary greatly from as little as $12 per hour for entry-level part time assistant work, to $24 an hour for more experienced professionals.

It should also be noted, pay can vary greatly depending on whether the bookkeeper works for an accounting firm, for a corporation, or as an independent contractor. The above figures are median figures and do not reflect the outliers such as high-level bookkeepers for Fortune 500 companies, or sole proprietorships, which can greatly exceed $37,000 per year.

Bookkeeping, Account, and Auditing Clerk Salary Statistics

2016 Median Pay$37,250 per year
$17.91 per hour
Typical Entry-Level EducationAssociates, Some College or none
Work Experience in a Related OccupationNot Required
On-the-job TrainingCommon short-medium length on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 20161,760,300
Job Outlook, 2014-2024-8%
Employment Change, 2014-2024-148,700
Sources: U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics & Payscale

Industry Forecast

The industry forecast for bookkeepers is not a particularly sunny one, adding -8% growth rate between the years of 2014 and 2024.

One market segment in which bookkeepers are still in moderate demand are small businesses. Small business owners may prefer to hire in-house bookkeepers rather than accountants from large accounting firms as over time they are much more cost efficient than paying a corporation.

Still, due to advances in technology, particularly software improvements and widespread use of cloud computing, many on-site bookkeeping positions have been made redundant for many fast growing, technologically savvy companies.

Advances in ease-of-use in terms of software will continue to chip away at the total number of bookkeeping jobs. The profession is expected to shed over 148,000 positions between 2014 and 2024, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

For these reasons, it is important to write your resume in a way that it can be used to advance your career beyond simple bookkeeping, such as more advanced accounting or financial controller positions. The skills honed in bookkeeping can be of immense value when translated into more in-demand positions within the broader accounting industry.

Types of Bookkeepers

Bookkeeping is a relatively specific job title, However, many bookkeepers find themselves performing tasks often assigned to other professions such as accountants, controllers, and managers. Within the bookkeeping profession, however, there are  generally considered to be three main types of bookkeepers.

General Bookkeepers

General bookkeepers are exactly that, a person who deals with the day-to-day financial transactions of company, and records single entry bookkeeping or double entry bookkeeping with tools like Quicken or QuickBooks.

General bookkeepers are also responsible for recording all company transactions and the general ledger, processing invoices and payments, and keeping up with regular bank reconciliations. This can be done with software, as mentioned, or with an actual physical book, in some cases.

The position can range from entry-level to mid-level, depending on the size of the company and the total skill set of the individual. The general bookkeeper is on the slightly lower end of the median salary scale, because the skill set is more broad, and supply is slightly higher.

Full Charge Bookkeepers

Full charge bookkeepers are bookkeepers whose responsibilities include all of the above-mentioned, plus a few other critical functions, namely organizing and distributing payroll.

Full charge bookkeepers are usually responsible for managing the financial transactions of small to medium-size businesses and generally are more experienced than entry-level bookkeepers, usually because they have taken accounting specific courses while pursuing some form of higher education.

It goes without saying, then, that with increased responsibilities, and increased educational requirements, full charge bookkeepers generally make a little bit more money than their general bookkeeper counterparts.

Certified Bookkeepers

Certified bookkeepers are the kings of their domain. They do everything full charge bookkeepers do and more. Four star, certified bookkeepers must have at least two years of real life experience working within the accounting industry, and must also pass a standardized national exam.

Certified bookkeepers are very close to certified accountants, in that they manage all financial and income reporting, process all daily transactions for all accounts both payable and receivable, and keep a general ledger for other accounting purposes..

There are many places nationwide where you can take a certified bookkeeper exam, which is administered by the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers. Once you have passed the exam, you can include “CB” with your name at the top of your resume, just like certified accountants include CPA at the top of their resumes.

Because this type of bookkeeper requires the most work, the supply is the least of the three, and generally speaking, the salary for these types of experience professionals is much higher than the above two.

Sample Resume Download

Below is an example of a professionally written bookkeeper resume that you can use for reference when writing your own. Downloaded it, print it, memorize it, whatever you have to do to get an idea of the types of things you should be including in your own resume.

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How To Write Your Own

Bookkeeper resumes are relatively standard affairs. As with all resumes, it is the general policy to limit it to one page in length, with standardized margins all around, and a generally conservative font selection.

You will start your resume with the career objectives, where you state your experience level. In just a couple of sentences you want to state why you are qualified for the position and why the company should hire you. This usually means emphasizing the experience, but can also include specific accreditation such as being a “certified bookkeeper” or “CB”.

In the body of your resume you want to include only the most relevant experiences, and avoid listing daily routine responsibilities that are expected of any and all bookkeepers. You want to share experiences that will indicate to the employer that you are something special, that you have experiences and skills that they need to help grow their business in the future.

You can best do this by quantifying your achievements numerically whenever possible on your resume. This is the quickest and most direct way to communicate to the reader exactly what it is you did previously and how impactful these responsibilities were.

For example, you can list a dollar evaluation of the company or what you did bookkeeping in the past. You can also include numbers on savings you made for a company in dollar figures or percentage points.

Do not list experiences that are not relevant to the industry or experiences that are more than 15 years old as they are not really relevant anymore. In your bullet points, older experiences should be listed last and with less detail, while your newer experiences should be listed first and with more detail included.

Compare your finished resume to the professionally written sample above, and try to identify the differences. This is for improvement on your resume.

Also, before sending your resume to any employer, be sure you send it to at least two friends or family members to not only proofread, but also to make sure that your wording is correct and you are presenting yourself in the best possible light. This is something that can be at times difficult for individuals to identify, themselves.

Sample Bullet Points

Below are a selection of bullet points specifically selected for bookkeeping professionals and which you can use for inspiration when trying to compose your own selection of action-oriented bullet points.

Sample Bookkeeper Bullet Points

Task
Operate computers programmed with accounting software to record, store, and analyze information.
Check figures, postings, and documents for correct entry, mathematical accuracy, and proper codes.
Classify, record, and summarize numerical and financial data to compile and keep financial records, using journals and ledgers or computers.
Debit, credit, and total accounts on computer spreadsheets and databases, using specialized accounting software.
Operate 10-key calculators, typewriters, and copy machines to perform calculations and produce documents.
Receive, record, and bank cash, checks, and vouchers.
Comply with federal, state, and company policies, procedures, and regulations.
Compile statistical, financial, accounting, or auditing reports and tables pertaining to such matters as cash receipts, expenditures, accounts payable and receivable, and profits and losses.
Code documents according to company procedures.
Reconcile or note and report discrepancies found in records.
Access computerized financial information to answer general questions as well as those related to specific accounts.
Match order forms with invoices, and record the necessary information.
Perform general office duties, such as filing, answering telephones, and handling routine correspondence.
Perform personal bookkeeping services.
Prepare bank deposits by compiling data from cashiers, verifying and balancing receipts, and sending cash, checks, or other forms of payment to banks.
Prepare trial balances of books.
Calculate, prepare, and issue bills, invoices, account statements, and other financial statements according to established procedures.
Calculate and prepare checks for utilities, taxes, and other payments.
Compute deductions for income and social security taxes.
Prepare and process payroll information.
Compare computer printouts to manually maintained journals to determine if they match.
Reconcile records of bank transactions.
Transfer details from separate journals to general ledgers or data processing sheets.
Complete and submit tax forms and returns, workers' compensation forms, pension contribution forms, and other government documents.
Prepare purchase orders and expense reports.
Monitor status of loans and accounts to ensure that payments are up to date.
Perform financial calculations, such as amounts due, interest charges, balances, discounts, equity, and principal.
Calculate costs of materials, overhead, and other expenses, based on estimates, quotations and price lists.
Compile budget data and documents, based on estimated revenues and expenses and previous budgets.
Maintain inventory records.

Career Objective

The career objective is a very important part of a bookkeeper’s resume, as it sets the tone for the professional experience, additional skills, and educational sections.

Be sure to specify whether you are a general bookkeeper, a full charge bookkeeper, or a certified bookkeeper right away in your career objectives so that HR managers know exactly who you are when viewing your resume.

The goal of the career objective is to pique the reader’s interest and get them to read the rest of your resume, so stay with your bookkeeper level, experience, and certification, if you have any, in achieving this goal. Also, include other bookkeeping specific information such as whether you had experience with double entry methods or single entry methods of recordkeeping. Likewise, you can include any specific industry software knowledge you have that is pertinent to the position you are applying for.

If you are an entry-level candidate, mention your educational experience if it is specific to accounting, or any other bookkeeping-related internships or experience, as these will serve to qualify you in place of actual work experience.

Additional Skills & Certifications

Additional skill sets bookkeepers can include should be analytical in nature, such is the ability to process large amounts of data, sometimes known as data mining. You also want to emphasize your wizardry of Excel and your ability to effortlessly organize and manage a company’s financial records.

Also, do not forget to mention accounting specific software such as Quicken, QuickBooks, intuit, TurboTax.  The list goes on, and by listing more tools, you will make yourself more attractive to different employers.

It may seem excessive to list all of your software knowledge, but you never know what type of system the employer uses or has used in the past. By listing all of your experiences, the likelihood of matching increases, which, in turn, increases your desirability as a candidate.

Include any accounting-related certifications you have, as well. Obviously, if you are a certified bookkeeper, you will include this, Both an abbreviation forming your title at the top of your resume, and also again here in your certification section, written out longform.

Useful Skills to Include

In addition to the other above-mentioned skills you can include, we have selected a few bookkeeping specific skills that you can use on your resume in the table below. Obviously, in addition to the below provided points, you want to stand out from the pack by including skills that are unique to you and which you do not think many other applicants will have.

Useful Bookkeeper Skills

SkillSkill Description
Reading ComprehensionUnderstanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
Active ListeningGiving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
SpeakingTalking to others to convey information effectively.
WritingCommunicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
MathematicsUsing mathematics to solve problems.
Critical ThinkingUsing logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
MonitoringMonitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Time ManagementManaging one's own time and the time of others.
Social PerceptivenessBeing aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
Active LearningUnderstanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
CoordinationAdjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
Service OrientationActively looking for ways to help people.
Complex Problem SolvingIdentifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
Judgment and Decision MakingConsidering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
PersuasionPersuading others to change their minds or behavior.
NegotiationBringing others together and trying to reconcile differences.
Management of Personnel ResourcesMotivating, developing, and directing people as they work, identifying the best people for the job.
Learning StrategiesSelecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.
InstructingTeaching others how to do something.
Systems AnalysisDetermining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.
Systems EvaluationIdentifying measures or indicators of system performance and the actions needed to improve or correct performance, relative to the goals of the system.
Management of Financial ResourcesDetermining how money will be spent to get the work done, and accounting for these expenditures.
Operation MonitoringWatching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
Management of Material ResourcesObtaining and seeing to the appropriate use of equipment, facilities, and materials needed to do certain work.
Operations AnalysisAnalyzing needs and product requirements to create a design.
Technology DesignGenerating or adapting equipment and technology to serve user needs.
ProgrammingWriting computer programs for various purposes.
ScienceUsing scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
Equipment SelectionDetermining the kind of tools and equipment needed to do a job.
Quality Control AnalysisConducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.
InstallationInstalling equipment, machines, wiring, or programs to meet specifications.
Operation and ControlControlling operations of equipment or systems.
Equipment MaintenancePerforming routine maintenance on equipment and determining when and what kind of maintenance is needed.
TroubleshootingDetermining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.
RepairingRepairing machines or systems using the needed tools.