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Being a Bookkeeper

Updated on January 20, 2015
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Rebecca Graf is a seasoned writer with nearly a decade of experience and degrees in accounting, history, and creative writing.

If you were contemplating becoming an accountant and read my article on the accounting profession, you might have sworn against it.  Yet, a part of it still intrigues you.  The world of figures is not limited to accounting and similar type profession.  If keeping track of day to day transactions is all you wish to deal with, then maybe bookkeeping is for you.

What is It?

A bookkeeper is the person who records the daily transactions. That would include any sales, payment of bills, and use of inventory. This almost sounds like an accountant, but the bookkeeper would not be the one creating financial statements and reports. Their job is solely to record all transactions. They are the record keepers for the financial end of a business.

The record keeping that a bookkeeper might do could be as simple as just recording deposits and checks in a checkbook register (single sided transactions). Some small businesses just need this simple of a process. A bookkeeper keeps the register updated and reconciles with the bank each month. I’ve worked at two businesses that only at bookkeepers that handled their books and only used an accountant at year end to prepare taxes. This is a steady job as most business owners that use this method are more focused on growing their business.

The record keeping could also be more of the traditional accounting method. This is usually called the double sided entry method. This is slightly more complicated as the job responsibilities go past the simple check register and into the various journals. For example, an entry will be made for the purchase of inventory in the checking account and another entry made in the inventory account. This begins to use more of the basic accounting skills and helps the accountant prepare the final yearend reports and tax papers.

Many could consider bookkeeping a boring job. But if you are person you likes things orderly and precise, this might be the profession for you. Bookkeeping is keeping a business’s books in order. The bookkeeper makes sure all transactions are recorded and recorded properly. They keep the finances running smoothly month to month.

You’ll usually find the position of bookkeeper in small businesses. Let me rephrase that. You will find the title of “bookkeeper” in smaller businesses. In large corporations the need for bookkeepers is still present, but instead of “bookkeeper” you will find the titles “accounting clerk” and “accounting technician” used more often. These positions are usually working alongside the accountant daily to keep the multitude of transactions flowing smoothly.

You’ll also hear the term “bean counter” used to describe a bookkeeper and sometimes applied to accountants in general. Some will take this as a derogatory term, but many others take it in stride and joke amongst themselves using this term. In a sense they are bean counters. The beans just happen to be dollar signs.

Education and Experience

So, if you are interested in this profession what do you do?  Start off by talking to a bookkeeper.  Find out what they do on the job and what they like and dislike about it.  Maybe even shadow them while they are on the job.  Seeing things firsthand really puts it all into perspective. 

                If you are still interested, check into a local college.  An associates or bachelors degree will help you get the necessary knowledge of your belt for bookkeeping.  You might find a bachelors degree more than you need for bookkeeping, but it does not hurt.  If you want to move up in a company and become an accountant, the bachelors degree is needed. 

                While you are getting your education, check for any internships or part-time jobs in the bookkeeping field to help gain experience and give you real life feel for the classroom.  Once you experience it first hand, the classroom activities make much more sense.  Take this from someone who did just that.  I understood it all much better once I actually used it on the job.


Is being a bookkeeper worth it? Can you make a living as one? The answer is yes. You won’t be the next Donald Trump, but you will be able to meet your basic needs. The average salary is around $30,000. This, of course, changes from area to area depending on the cost of living. Los Angeles will have a higher salary while Dothan, Alabama will be much lower. I’ve known bookkeepers who said that their salaries were more than enough. I’ve also known some who had to take on second jobs. It all depends on your location and your specific life needs.

Like order and numbers?  Check out the bookkeeping profession.  It might be just the job for you.  The following links could give you more information.  Check them out.


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    • profile image

      accounter 6 years ago

      check out They really helped me.

    • profile image

      Althea Wolhuter 6 years ago

      Hi RGraf,

      From one bookkeeper to another, this is a fabulous Hub. In my experience, bookkeeping is the most under-rated profession. I am a senior bookkeeper doing most of the jobs that used to be the pervue of the accountant. I also love setting up systems and streamlining the work flow. I am working on this at the moment and will be writing teaching materials for seminars.

      I am also a freelance writer, so these two careers go hand in glove.

      If you want to be a sucessful bookkeeper, you really do have to love working with figures. It is a high-pressure job and you need a good disposition to ride the pressure.

      Thanks again for this Hub!

    • applecsmith profile image

      Carrie Smith 6 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Nice hub, very easy to understand and gives good information about being a bookkeeper. Thanks for posting-voted up and useful!

    • tbodley74 profile image

      tbodley74 6 years ago from Alabama

      Oh well you beat me to it. I was going to write something about this topic. I took a bookkeeping course that taught me all I need to know about bookkeeping. I was going to start my own business also, then other creative ways to make money detoured my attention else where. Nice hub you got here.

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      Kathy 7 years ago

      Great ideas. Thank you. I work mostly out of my home but I find it becoming more necessary to go to the clients office. Paperwork, copies, invoices.

      My business is still growing and I'm never bored!

    • profile image

      Chris R. Keller 7 years ago

      If you are looking for easy to learn, low cost and flexible program that will allow you to be your own bookkeeper check out Profitworks’ Easy To Use Accounting Software. You can find it at

    • profile image

      Andrew Smale 7 years ago

      Thank you so much this information helped in making my decision to follow the bookkeeping profession

    • profile image

      Beverley Hall 7 years ago

      Many book-keepers will want to work from home. This is fine, but please be aware that they sometimes require you to photocopy all of your invoices, receipts, statements etc before sending off the data to the book-keeper. This can be a time consuming practice, that could be avoided if you can find a freelance book-keeper that will work from the clients premises. You may not be able to find one in your area, but it is definitely worth trying before dealing with a remote book-keeper.

      Thanks for a really in-depth article ;-)

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      online bookkeeping courses 7 years ago

      Good thorough information, always a pleasure to find info that is useful, will be very happy to see more from you in the future

    • emievil profile image

      emievil 8 years ago from Philippines

      Hi RGraf. I'm a bookkeeper also, I run my own accounting firm. It's enough for a decent living but for some people, it can make them rich especially if they have the high-paying big clients. Thanks for this hub. Wish I thought of this first =).

    • Lisa Luv profile image

      Lisa J Warner AKA Lisa Luv 8 years ago from Conneticut, USA