Bookkeeping and Accounting Clerks


Education and Training Requirements

High School

In order to be a bookkeeper, you will need at least a high school diploma. It will be helpful to have a background in business mathematics, business writing, typing, and computer training. Pay particular attention to developing sound English and communication skills along with mathematical abilities.

Postsecondary Training

Some employers prefer people who have completed a junior college curriculum or those who have attended a post-high school business training program. In many instances, employers offer on-the-job training for various types of entry-level positions. In some areas, work-study programs are available in which schools, in cooperation with businesses, offer part-time, practical on-the-job training combined with academic study. These programs often help students find immediate employment in similar work after graduation. Local business schools may also offer evening courses.

Some employers prefer bookkeeping and accounting clerks to have some postsecondary education in accounting and business. Approximately 25 percent of bookkeeping and accounting clerks have an associate's degree or higher.

Other Education or Training

Keeping up with industry developments is key to success as a bookkeeping and accounting clerk. Professional associations often provide continuing education (CE) opportunities. For example, the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers provides CE opportunities for bookkeeping and accounting clerks. Recent classes included "Mastering the Statement of Cash Flows," "Mastering Double-Entry Bookkeeping," "Mastering Payroll," and "Mastering Adjusting Entries: Accruals and Deferrals." The National Bookkeepers Association also provides CE opportunities. Contact these organizations for more information.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

The American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers offers voluntary certification to bookkeepers who have at least two years of full-time experience (or the part-time or freelance equivalent), pass an examination, and sign a code of ethics. Bookkeepers who complete this requirement may use the designation certified bookkeeper. The National Bookkeepers Association offers seven certification categories: bookkeeper, accounting, QuickBooks, payroll, tax, Excel, and office management. Applicants become certified by passing a national uniform examination.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

No experience is needed to become a bookkeeping or accounting clerk, but those with prior work experience will increase their chances of landing a job, getting promoted, and possibly earning higher pay.

Bookkeepers need strong mathematical skills and organizational abilities, and they have to be able to concentrate on detailed work. The work is quite sedentary and often tedious, and you should not mind long hours behind a desk. You should be methodical, accurate, and orderly and enjoy working on detailed tasks. Employers look for honest, discreet, and trustworthy individuals when placing their business in someone else's hands.