Bookkeeper Job Description: 9 Skills Needed to Bookkeep
Here’s what you need to know about the bookkeeper job description before you start your bookkeeping career.
RELATED: Starting a Bookkeeping Business
In this article:
- Has Knowledge on Bookkeeping and Familiar with General Accounting Principles
- Able to Deal with Complex Processes
- Has Problem-Solving Skills
- Excellent Data Entry and Record-Keeping Skills
- Attentive to Details and Thorough
- Has Organizational Skills
- Has Good Communication Skills
- Honest and Able to Work with Discretion
Bookkeeper Job Description: Bookkeeping Skills You Need to Have
Bookkeeper Job Description: What Does a Bookkeeper Do?
Bookkeepers are responsible for administrating over a business’ financial transactions. They record these transactions, make payments, balance the books and bank statements, and generate financial reports.
It’s important you’re familiar with the bookkeeper duties and responsibilities before anything else. This way, you’ll know what to expect from the job and what you need to learn or develop within yourself.
We listed down the nitty-gritty details of the job that’ll allow you to understand the kind of skills you need to have to take on a bookkeeping role:
- Keep track of all the business’ financial transactions
- Maintain accurate financial records
- Keep the accounting filing system in order
- Oversee the business’ inventory and cash flow
- Manage the annual budget and petty cash fund
- Calculate budget variances and report any significant issues
- Pay suppliers, customers, and debts on time
- Manage debt levels to ensure debt covenant compliance
- Enforce sales tax collection from customers and remit them to the government
- Ensure the prompt collection of receivables
- Balance the financial books by reconciling them with bank statements
- Communicate financial issues to the management
- Generate financial reports with analysis of the financial statements
- Provide the information accountants and auditors need for their reports and audit
- Follow the standard accounting procedures and policies
- Ensure compliance with the local, state, and federal government’s reporting requirements
Variance Definition: This is the difference between the actual cost and the standard cost.
Receivables Definition: These are the monetary obligations of customers and debtors to the business.
There are nine general skills and characteristics you need to have and develop to land the bookkeeper jobs you want. These will make it easier for you to grow into the role and do your job well.
1. Has Knowledge on Bookkeeping and Familiar with General Accounting Principles
Working in the accounting field, you must have a knack for crunching numbers. Your work will involve a lot of computations, and you need to be able to do this efficiently.
A know-how on bookkeeping work and being familiar with accounting procedures and policies will help you pick up your tasks faster. It’s very important you learn these before taking on jobs and immersing yourself in the role.
You can learn how to do bookkeeping through online training courses such as Bookkeeper Launch. Another option is to personally ask professional bookkeepers to teach you the ropes.
If you want to study how to become a bookkeeper in your own time, learning through an online course is the best option. You can even get help in growing your bookkeeping business through courses such as Bookkeeper Lab and Bookkeeper Elite.
Even as a rookie bookkeeper, you need to be familiar with creating financial reports such as a Balance Sheet and Income Statement. Generating financial reports with analyzed financial statements will be part of your bookkeeper job description.
Some clients also expect bookkeepers to have a working knowledge of accounting software like QuickBooks®.
This will help you maintain accurate financial records for your client. The automation also allows you to accomplish your work more efficiently.
You need analytical skills to accurately keep track of your client’s financial transactions. When you work with single- and double-entry bookkeeping systems, you have to analyze and reconcile revenue, expenses, and bank statements.
Double-entry systems are more complex, and you have to tag the right transaction on the right account. If you’re not careful, you might incorrectly pay or charge the bill to someone else.
The financial statements you’ll create should have analyses so your clients can understand their financial standing. Thus, you need to accurately explain the data you’ve recorded and how they affect the business.
3. Able to Deal with Complex Processes
Accounting procedures and policies, as well as the government’s financial regulations, aren’t always straightforward. They have complex processes that require compliance.
As a bookkeeper, you need to stay on top of all these things. This means keeping yourself updated on the latest procedures and policies related to your field or the industry you’re serving.
You must be able to roll with the changes and apply them immediately. This is especially important if the new regulations you need to implement overlap with the old ones.
4. Has Problem-Solving Skills
Bookkeepers need problem-solving skills since they manage the business’ inventory, cash flow, and budget. They also take care of the supplier and customer payroll, as well as ensure that the business pays its debts on time.
Different problems can arise in overseeing these financial transactions. In the first place, there should be preventive measures in place to avoid running into problems.
In case a problem arises within the scope of your work, you need to find effective and feasible solutions. Solving problems may come with time pressure as well.
It’s good to possess problem-solving skills prior to taking on bookkeeping jobs, but the best way you can get better at it is to constantly apply it. Don’t shy away from problems — face them head-on so you’ll learn and grow into the job.
5. Excellent Data Entry and Record-Keeping Skills
One of the main tasks of a bookkeeper is to record all the business’ financial transactions. This includes keeping track of earnings, expenses, receivables, payables, and even procurement.
Bookkeepers religiously record everything and ensure that they have all the documentation they need to support their records.
Tedious as it sometimes can be, it’s the bookkeeper’s job to ensure they enter the correct data into the books and the accounting system. This is very important, as the accuracy of financial reports and analyses rely on the accuracy of the available data.
6. Attentive to Details and Thorough
Attention to detail and thoroughness are key to maintain accurate financial records. These characteristics are natural for some people, but if these aren’t in your nature, you need to train yourself.
Practice paying more attention to the little things and nuances. You can also train yourself to be thorough by going through your work meticulously before turning it in.
Your work doesn’t always have to be perfect. Yet, paying attention to details and being thorough can save you from putting in unnecessary time and effort in the long run.
7. Has Organizational Skills
Bookkeepers keep the accounting filing system in order and organize the business’ financial records. It’s no wonder that organizational skills go hand in hand with the previous bookkeeper job description we discussed.
With all the transactions and documents you need to keep track of, working in an organized manner is a must. More importantly, keeping things organized will give you peace of mind that everything is where it should be and you can produce accurate data because of it.
You can start small — for example, apply proper labeling and encode the right data accordingly. Then, work your way through your whole bookkeeping system and organize everything properly.
The organizational skills you’ll need also include good time management. You need to organize your short- and long-term responsibilities to ensure that you’re able to accomplish them all on time.
8. Has Good Communication Skills
Though bookkeepers mostly cover the administrative side, you’ll still need to be customer service-oriented.
As a bookkeeper, you will deal with suppliers and customers. You need to communicate with them properly to achieve your business goals.
If there is a need for you to negotiate, it will help if you are able to properly express yourself and persuade people to agree with you.
You’re also expected to report financial issues to your client. Good communication skills will come in handy so you can thoroughly explain the situation and propose viable solutions.
9. Honest and Able to Work with Discretion
Bookkeepers often deal with sensitive and confidential information. All businesses need an honest worker, but especially so if they’re hiring someone to manage their finances.
Aside from honesty, you should also be able to work with discretion. Handle your client’s financial information carefully and keep their data private.
Your good character can exceed your skills, so it’s essential that you develop the right characteristics expected from a bookkeeper. When you stick to good practices, your reputation will precede you and gain you a loyal clientele.
It’s important to learn what bookkeepers do, but it’s just as valuable to possess the skills and characteristics required for this job. Remember this bookkeeper job description list so you can develop the qualifications you need to improve on before you immerse yourself in the role.
Keep on learning and practicing to succeed in your bookkeeping career.
Which bookkeeping skills are you good at, and what do you need to improve on? Share them with us in the comments section below.