How to become a Bookkeeper

Bookkeeping is a growing profession in Australia and offers great opportunities for those who have a head for numbers. If you plan on working in the bookkeeping industry, there are a range of attributes and professional skills you’ll need to prepare yourself for a bookkeeping role.

A Bookkeeper’s responsibility is to be an accounts ‘all-rounder’; tracking the comings and goings of money, paying bills on time on behalf of the business you’re working for and keeping an eye on accounts received. 

As a Bookkeeper, you also a play in part in ensuring everyone gets paid regularly and ensure the company’s financial records are accurate and up-to-date. Read more about the job description of a Bookkeeper.

What technical and professional skills do I need to become a Bookkeeper?

OTEN (Open Training and Education Network) Acting Head Teacher of Accounting, Penny Bowden, explains that most contract Bookkeepers will be hired by a business for one key reason: to record all business financial transactions leading to the preparation of their Business Activity Statement (BAS).

The BAS is an essential tax report that businesses have to send to the Tax Office during the year, with particular qualifications and registration required to perform this duty.

“You must be registered as a BAS Agent with the Tax Practitioners Board if you provide BAS services for a fee or other reward,” says Penny.

For example, to apply for BAS Agent registration you’ll need to have completed at least a Certificate IV in Bookkeeping (FNS40215) or Certificate IV in Accounting (FNS40615). 

Registering as a BAS Agent also requires you to complete suitable GST and BAS units, which can be included as part of the Certificate IV course, as well as work experience supervised by a BAS Agent.

These certificates will teach you how to work with different accounting and payroll systems, prepare financial reports and maintain inventory records, giving you the practical skills you’ll need to apply for bookkeeping roles with confidence.

Is work experience important if you want to become a Bookkeeper?

Work experience is a great way to get a better understanding of what a Bookkeeper does every day, and will help you expand your industry networks too.

“Volunteer or paid, knock on some doors to see if anyone would like some Bookkeeping work, or if they would mind if you shadowed a BAS Agent,” suggests SEEK Learning Consultant Stephen Merry. 

“SEEK Volunteer is an invaluable resource to find charitable and not-for-profit organisations that would love your help while you’re studying.”

Should I become a Bookkeeper?

The traits you’ll need to be successful as a Bookkeeper include:

  • Strong analytical and problem solving skills
  • Good organisation skills
  • Numerical accuracy and diligence
  • Good computer skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Patience and dedication

“Anyone who likes solving problems and mathematics is perfect for this profession,” says Stephen. “When the accounts add up and everyone has been paid up to date, it’s like solving a Sudoku puzzle - it’s a great sense of accomplishment!”

There are two main types of Bookkeepers: contract Bookkeepers who work from home, and workplace Bookkeepers who work in an office environment. Being able to work both independently as well as in a team is an important skill too.