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What Does it Take to Become a Bookkeeper?

by William Beel

To become a professional bookkeeper, you’ll need to complete some basic training and certifications. It’s also a good idea to look into local government requirements for starting a bookkeeping firm because if you’re providing BAS and GST services, you’ll need to be a registered BAS agent.

In addition to creating financial statements and other reports for management and supervisors, bookkeepers are responsible for managing a business or company’s financial records, monitoring transactions, updating statements, and assuring correctness.

Bookkeepers record key data from invoices, bills, and receipts in accounting software, spreadsheets, and databases in order to make reports and compile statistics. Additional responsibilities, such as purchasing, payroll, and invoicing, are frequently assigned to them, and they may be required to deal with clients on some occasions.

Do you find comfort in numbers, databases, and spreadsheets? Do you get a sense of fulfillment from accuracy and order?

If so, bookkeeping may be the right career for you.

You can become a bookkeeper by following these instructions.

Step 1: Complete a certificate program.

Completing a certificate IV or higher in bookkeeping or accounting is the first step in becoming a bookkeeper. This course will teach you how to create reports, interact with accounting software, and keep track of your records. In order to apply for BAS Agent registration, it is also advised that you complete GST and BAS units within the certificate courses.

A Certificate IV course will teach you the core skills you’ll need to get started as a bookkeeper, such as:

  • Creating and keeping payroll systems up to date
  • Keeping track of ledgers and accounts
  • Completing BAS and activity statements for instalments
  • Creating and processing financial statements

In Australia, there are several ways to become a certified bookkeeper.

Some online training programs provide a full Nationally Recognised Certificate IV in Accounting and Bookkeeping as a six-month face-to-face course with a twelve-month completion period or as a fully flexible online study at your own pace option. Perform a basic online search to see what’s available.

Step 2: Get some work experience

Once you have completed a course and attained the right certification, you will have the basic abilities needed to apply for bookkeeping jobs; however, you will not be able to do BAS-related work until you are more qualified. You’ll need 1400 hours of relevant job experience to legally create and lodge Business Activity Statements, so start looking around for a certified BAS Agent from whom you can learn, either as a volunteer, intern, or entry-level bookkeeper.

There are a few ways to apply for work experience once you’ve finished your course:

  • Make sure your CV is up to date and ready to send out.
  • Sign up with a temp agency, as many temp bookkeepers become full-time employees.
  • Publish your resume in a Job Placement Register. Use personal networks or LinkedIn to find suitable job opportunities.
  • Examine the careers pages of companies where you’d like to work.

With a Certificate IV and a can-do attitude, you should soon secure a role at a great company. After you’ve gained some expertise, you can advance your career by working on BAS and other tax-related responsibilities.

Step 3: Apply to become a BAS Agent.

After you have gained the right certification and sufficient experience, you can register as a BAS agent with the Tax Practitioners Board. While a BAS Agent certificate is not required for a career as a bookkeeper, it will considerably increase your employment chances.

Many bookkeepers will be engaged to maintain track of funds in order to prepare a Business Activity Statement (BAS), a report that every business must file with the IRS.

The good news is that you can become a registered BAS agent with a Certificate IV in Accounting and Bookkeeping. You can apply for registration directly through the Tax Practitioners Board’s website; this link has all of the necessary information. Once you have been accepted, you will be a Nationally Registered BAS Agent.

Becoming a registered BAS agent expands your job opportunities and allows you to work on a variety of projects. It is not, however, required to work as a bookkeeper. If you’re a registered bookkeeper searching for a new challenge, becoming a BAS agent may be just what you’re looking for.

Step 4: Obtain insurance coverage.

You will be bound by a code of professional behaviour once you have qualified and been registered as a BAS Agent. This code imposes numerous requirements, one of which is the requirement that you hold a particular level of Professional Indemnity (PI) Insurance. This insurance protects Bookkeepers from any losses incurred by their clients as a result of their negligence or errors.

Competencies for Success

A bookkeeper must be systematic and meticulous, paying close attention to the smallest details. You’ll require strong problem-solving abilities, an analytical and well-organized mind, and a fondness for numbers and mathematics. Because much accounting is now done digitally, a bookkeeper should have some technical competence and be familiar with at least the fundamentals of computer use, particularly databases and spreadsheets. The most successful bookkeepers are persistent and diligent, with a commitment to precision and accuracy.

Attributes & Skills

Many people who work as a freelance bookkeeper or own a bookkeeping business choose the field because they enjoy dealing with numbers and following a systematic approach to their work. Solid computer skills and the capacity to adapt to new software applications and internet platforms are required, as are an analytical mind and good problem-solving skills. After all, ‘keeping books’ is a thing of the past, and the majority of bookkeepers’ roles are now computer-based, so you’ll need to be comfortable with spreadsheets and databases.

You’ll also need to demonstrate the following skills:

  • Methodical work habits.
  • Exceptional attention to detail.
  • Fluency with numbers.
  • Outstanding organizational abilities.
  • Technical aptitude.
  • Problem-solving abilities.


Currently, bookkeepers work in a variety of businesses. In 2016, the financial services industry employed 12% of all bookkeepers. The majority of these positions were in tax preparation, payroll, and general accounting. The second-largest segment, accounting for around 10% of the workforce, worked in retail services. Healthcare, wholesale, and insurance were the other industries that employed less than 10% of bookkeepers. Bookkeepers can also work as freelancers or as part of a small firm.

What are the requirements for starting a bookkeeping business?

A mix of education, certification, and mastery of the job tools is an excellent foundation for getting to the point where you’re ready to start your own firm. Most clients will want to see that you have some experience, as well as a recommendation from other business owners. Furthermore, a strong motivation for starting a bookkeeping firm is a desire to assist others in successfully running their businesses.

You don’t need accounting credentials, but having some understanding can’t hurt, especially if you’re the go-between for the business owner and their accountant.

Trends in Job Creation

Through 2026, the job forecast for bookkeepers is flat. The majority of new jobs are likely to be created as a result of people retiring or advancing in their accounting careers. Bookkeepers’ opportunities are being dwindled as a result of automated technology. By 2026, there will be a net loss of 25,000 bookkeeper employment due to a lack of growth.

Bookkeeping is an interesting career that opens chances for people who enjoy order, balance, and numbers.

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Bookkeepers are in charge of keeping track of money coming in and out of businesses across the country, paying employees and bills on time, and keeping financial records up to date down to the smallest detail.

Salary Averages

What is a bookkeeper’s salary in Australia? The average yearly pay for a bookkeeper in Australia is roughly $53,584, although this varies depending on credentials and experience, so this amount is simply indicative.

Bookkeepers are essential to the success of any business. A bookkeeper’s role in the accounting cycle’s data collection and data entry is crucial. When a solid system is in place to prevent problems like fraud, financial data may give meaningful, actionable information.

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