To become a bookkeeper, a person should concentrate on certain key skill sets while in high school, and expand upon them over the following years. Doing so will fulfill the main requirements of the bookkeeper position, and make it much easier to find a job. Here are several key skill areas:
- Basic math skills. The key math requirements involve basic addition, subtraction, and division. There is no need for any type of more advanced mathematics, such as calculus or statistics. However, a person should be very good at the key math requirements, since they will be used every day.
- Calculator skills. Using a 10-key calculator is still a good skill, though it is needed more for manual accounting systems, which are increasingly rare. At a minimum, the prospective bookkeeper should be very familiar with an electronic calculator.
- Electronic spreadsheet skills. One should be able to construct a basic electronic spreadsheet for common requirements, such as maintaining the detail for an account, or listing a group of fixed assets. This does not require knowledge of the more complex spreadsheet features.
- Bookkeeping classes. A person should attend classes that provide instruction in a number of areas, including how to issue invoices to customers, how to pay bills, how to record inventory, how to calculate employee pay, how to prepare journal entries, and how to create financial statements.
- Use accounting software. There are a number of accounting software packages on the market, most of which follow the same basic pattern for recording financial transactions and producing financial statements. It is critical to gain an excellent knowledge of at least one of these software packages, since a person will be expected to use accounting software in almost any organization. All software packages for which a person has a good operating knowledge should be prominently displayed on his or her resume.
To provide extra training rigor, consider earning an associates (two year) degree in accounting from a local community college. This is also an excellent resume item.
The next step is to work under the tutelage of an experienced bookkeeper, so look for junior bookkeeper job postings. Remain in this role for at least a year before making the jump to an in-charge bookkeeper position.
It is also possible to obtain a bookkeeper certification, though it typically requires that a person have at least two years of experience in the role before the certification can be completed.