Those who work in bookkeeping maintain the financial records of a business. Their primary job is to complete the basic accounting tasks that are necessary to keep the financial journal and general ledger of a business up-to-date. Even though a bookkeeper does many of the tasks that an accountant would do, the job is basically entry-level and the educational requirements are lower. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) tags the bookkeeper as making a median salary of $34,030 per year and can expect a 14% job growth rate through 2020 which is about as fast as average.
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Bookkeepers no longer use bound paper journals and general ledgers to do their jobs. Today, they use sophisticated software packages to post the daily financial transactions of a business. They use the double entry method of recording transactions where there is a balanced debit and credit for each. They also adhere to generally accepted accounting principles or GAAP as it is known in the accounting profession.
They take the day’s receipts and payments and enter them into software programs (or spreadsheets) so that the transactions can be posted to the general ledger. Large businesses have nightly posting computer runs and the next day the bookkeeper checks that everything ties down and balances.
Those who work in bookkeeping check reports each day and work to resolve discrepancies. At the end of the month, they prepare reports to upper level management that indicate the financial health of the company. These reports go by names such as cost of goods sold and income statements.
A person can enter the bookkeeping field with only a high school diploma. However, employers would like to hire someone with some basic education in accounting. Once employed, bookkeepers gain experience on-the-job. They can continue their education and get a bachelor’s degree in accounting which will open more doors to them. There is also a certification program available through the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers and requires two years of experience before sitting for the exam.
Bookkeepers work for businesses that don’t outsource their accounting services. They work in an office environment during normal business hours but may incur overtime during end-of-month/end-of-year reporting cycles and at tax season.
Working as a bookkeeper gives the on-the-job experience necessary to move up to the accountant level. It gives you the chance to test the waters and see if this is the career for you. If you believe it is the career for you then check out the educational opportunities available and get enrolled today.
 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/office-and-administrative-support/bookkeeping-accounting-and-auditing-clerks.htm (visited June 07, 2013).
Image Source: BLS.gov