Bookkeepers record and assemble the day-to-day financial transactions of an organisation or company, consisting usually of sales, purchases, payments and receipts. They ensure all financial transactions are documented in the appropriate (day) book and general ledger, and that they are balanced out. Bookkeepers prepare the recorded books and ledgers with financial transactions for an accountant to then analyse balance sheets and income statements.
Bookkeepers typically do the following:
- Record day to day financial transactions and complete the posting process
- Verify that transactions are recorded in the correct day book, suppliers ledger, customer ledger and general ledger
- Bring the books to the trial balance stage
- Perform partial checks of the posting process
- Complete tax forms
- Enter data, maintain records and create reports and financial statements
- Process accounts receivable/payable and handle payroll in a timely manner
The following job titles also refer to bookkeeper:
account information clerk
Bookkeepers work in a variety of settings, including corporate offices, government agencies, and small businesses. Most bookkeepers work full time, and some work more than 40 hours per week.
Many bookkeepers work in cubicles or small offices with computers, printers, and other office equipment. Some bookkeepers may be required to work in noisy environments, such as stockrooms or warehouses, where they may be exposed to dust and other airborne particles.
Bookkeepers need at least a high school diploma or equivalent. Some employers prefer candidates who have completed some college coursework or have a bachelor’s degree in accounting or another related field. Courses in bookkeeping, accounting and business are useful for those who want to advance their careers.
Most bookkeepers learn the specific software and processes related to their role while on the job. Training for this role typically lasts between one and three months. During training, a bookkeeper will learn how to use the company’s financial management software, how to record and track financial transactions and how to complete daily tasks. They will also learn how to interact with other employees, such as accountants and auditors.
ISCO skill level
ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:
- the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
- the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
- the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.
Bookkeeper is a Skill level 3 occupation.
Bookkeeper career path
These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to bookkeeper.
Long term prospects
These occupations require some skills and knowledge of bookkeeper. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of bookkeeper with a significant experience and/or extensive training.
Essential knowledge and skills
This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of bookkeeper.
- Accounting department processes: The different processes, duties, jargon, role in an organisation, and other specificities of the accounting department within an organisation such as bookkeeping, invoices, recording, and taxing.
- Bookkeeping regulations: The methods and regulations involved in the process of accurate bookkeeping.
- Financial statements: The set of financial records disclosing the financial position of a company at the end of a set period or of the accounting year. The financial statements consisting of five parts which are the statement of financial position, the statement of comprehensive income, the statement of changes in equity (SOCE), the statement of cash flows and notes.
- Depreciation: The accounting method of dividing the value of an asset over its useful life for the allocation of cost per fiscal year and in parallel to decrease the value of the asset from the accounts of the company.
- Accounting techniques: The techniques of recording and summarising business and financial transactions and analysing, verifying, and reporting the results.
- Accounting entries: The financial transactions recorded in accounting systems or books of a company together with the metadata linked to the entry such as the date, the amount, the accounts affected, and a description of the transaction.
- Commercial law: The legal regulations that govern a specific commercial activity.
- Tax legislation: Tax legislation applicable to a specific area of specialisation, such as import tax, government tax, etc.
- Company policies: The set of rules that govern the activity of a company.
Essential skills and competences
These skills are necessary for the role of bookkeeper.
- Perform balance sheet operations: Make up a balance sheet displaying an overview of the organisation’s current financial situation. Take into account income and expenses, fixed assets such as buildings and land, intangible assets such as trademarks and patents.
- Prepare financial statements: Collect, entry, and prepare the set of financial records disclosing the financial position of a company at the end of a certain period or accounting year. The financial statements consisting of five parts which are the statement of financial position, the statement of comprehensive income, the statement of changes in equity (SOCE), the statement of cash flows and notes.
- Follow the statutory obligations: Understand, abide by, and apply the statutory obligations of the company in the daily performance of the job.
- Identify accounting errors: Trace accounts, revise the accuracy of the records, and determine the faults in order to solve them.
- Use accounting systems: Employ accounting systems for recording and managing the accounts, obligations, and rights that the company possesses. Utilise these systems for accounting operations, financial analysis, and preparation of financial statements.
- Manage the general ledger: Enter data and revise the adequate maintenance of general ledgers in order to follow up on the financial transactions of the company, and other non routine transactions such as depreciation.
- Attach accounting certificates to accounting transactions: Collate and link documents such as invoices, contracts, and payment certificates in order to back up the transactions made in the accounting of the company.
- Prepare trial accounting balances: Ensure that all transactions are recorded in the books of the company and totalise all the debits and the credits of the accounts to find out balance in the accounts.
- Maintain financial records: Keep track of and finalise all formal documents representing the financial transactions of a business or project.
Optional knowledge and skills
This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of bookkeeper. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- Labour legislation: Legislation, on a national or international level, that governs labour conditions in various fields between labour parties such as the government, employees, employers, and trade unions.
- Financial department processes: The different processes, duties, jargon, role in an organisation, and other specificities of the financial department within an organisation. Understanding of financial statements, investments, disclosing policies, etc.
- Statistics: The study of statistical theory, methods and practices such as collection, organisation, analysis, interpretation and presentation of data. It deals with all aspects of data including the planning of data collection in terms of the design of surveys and experiments in order to forecast and plan work-related activities.
Optional skills and competences
These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of bookkeeper. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- Support development of annual budget: Support the development of the annual budget by producing base data as defined by the operations budget process.
- Prepare tax returns forms: Totalise all the deductible tax collected during the quarter or fiscal year in order to fill tax return forms and claim it back to the governmental authorities for declaring taxation liability. Keep the documents and records supporting the transaction.
- Allocate bills: Prepare and issue bills to clients and debtors taken from the accounts receivable of the financial statements. Disclose the amount to pay, the due date, taxing information, and additional details as necessary.
- Calculate tax: Calculate the taxes which have to be paid by an individual or organisation, or paid back by a governmental institution, compliant with specific legislation.
- Manage cash desk: Ensure compliance with company operating procedures and relevant legislation for cash desk activities. Apply the CCF policy and actively control debt management and recovery within agreed parameters.
- Organise business documents: Put together documents coming from the photocopier, the mail, or the daily operations of businesses.
- Manage payroll reports: Maintain personnel records as well as payroll reports. Record evaluations, promotions or disciplinary actions.
- Interpret financial statements: Read, understand, and interpret the key lines and indicators in financial statements. Extract the most important information from financial statements depending on the needs and integrate this information in the development of the department’s plans.
- Handle petty cash: Handle petty cash for minor expenses and transactions required for the daily running of a business.
- Archive documentation related to the work: Select relevant documentation related to the ongoing or complete work and take steps to archive it in a way that ensures its future accessibility.
- Follow up accounts receivables: Revise the accounts receivables section in the financial statements in order to breakdown the financial rights that the company has over other entities. Take actions in order to close the accounts and collect the money.
- Ensure compliance with accounting conventions: Exercise accounting management and abidance by generally accepted accounting conventions such as recording transactions at the current price, quantifying goods, separating personal accounts of managers from those of the company, making effective the transfer of legal ownership of assets in its realisation time, and ensuring the principle of materiality.
- Manage accounts: Manage the accounts and financial activities of an organisation, supervising that all the documents are correctly maintained, that all the information and calculations are correct, and that proper decisions are being made.
- Issue sales invoices: Prepare the invoice of goods sold or services provided, containing individual prices, the total charge, and the terms. Complete order processing for orders received via telephone, fax and internet and calculate the customer’s final bill.
- Handle financial transactions: Administer currencies, financial exchange activities, deposits as well as company and voucher payments. Prepare and manage guest accounts and take payments by cash, credit card and debit card.
ISCO group and title
3313 – Accounting associate professionals
- Bookkeeper – ESCO
- Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks : Occupational Outlook Handbook – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Bookkeeper job description template | Workable
- Bookkeeping Clerk Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More – Climb the Ladder