Bookkeeping qualifications typically depend upon the size of the company or organization needing financial recordkeeping services. Small firms might hire a bookkeeper with little experience and a secondary education with sufficient math courses. Larger companies commonly set more stringent bookkeeping qualifications, including some postsecondary education or certification. The extent of duties also varies by size of the organization, and could range from keeping track of income and bills to preparing profit-and-loss statements using spreadsheets.
Basic bookkeeping qualifications usually include an aptitude for numbers and good math skills. These employees should also be honest and trustworthy because they handle money and have access to confidential financial information. Some employers require a criminal background check to identify any offense related to theft. Bookkeeping qualifications typically include computer skills because most companies keep electronic financial records.
Bookkeeping duties often include preparing and making bank deposits after reconciling income and expenses. These professionals usually pay bills in a timely manner and keep track of customer accounts. In some cases, they assume responsibility for payroll and purchase orders. They usually possess good written and oral communications skills to handle clients with courtesy and professionalism.
Professional bookkeeping organizations might offer certification if it is required. Courses typically cover acceptable bookkeeping practices within the industry. In some regions, a bookkeeper needs two or more years' experience before he or she is eligible for certification. Ongoing refresher classes might be needed to maintain certified status.
Financial accounting might include monthly or annual reports to company owners or a board of trustees that oversees an organization. Preparing documents for internal or external auditors is required in some jobs. Some agencies use specific codes to record revenue and expenditures; these codes might be taught in-house. Small companies commonly offer training for bookkeepers to familiarize them with certain software and company policy pertaining to finances.
A fairly common practice, especially in smaller operations, involves promoting bookkeepers from within as they gain experience. A clerk might move up to a supervisory position as business manager or oversee finances within a certain department. Some bookkeepers start their own business after gaining experience, while others might become auditors.
Bookkeepers typically work in an office environment and maintain regular hours, unless the company requires after-hours financial assistance. The work might require long periods of concentration to avoid making errors. One of the risks of this profession concerns repetitive strain injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, from working on computers. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs from frequent pressure on nerves in the wrist.