What you need:
- Two-year associate degrees in accounting or finance are often prefered by high-profile employers. Those without these credentials may have difficulty ascending the ranks of an in-house accounting department.
- A high school diploma or equivalent is a minimum to be competitive in the job market.
- Most employers remain willing to take three to six months to train a newly-hired clerk.
- Many with a high school diploma or post-secondary certificate choose to return to school after working for several years in order to obtain two-year or four-year accounting degrees that may dramatically increase their potential earnings.
What you study:
Bookkeeping clerks that decide to pursue more advanced degrees take many of the same prerequisite courses as accounting majors. These include:
- Basic and advanced accounting concepts
- Basic finance
- Basic business law
Since bookkeeping clerks are trained to spot inconsistencies in financial statements they need a significant amount of advanced accounting coursework. They may also need a basic understanding of business law.
What courses you’ll take
Below are examples of courses that you’ll likely take as a bookkeeping student pursuing an associate degree in accounting or possibly a certificate.
|Introduction to Accounting||Overviews accounting as a process of recording classifying and analyzing business transactions. Covers basic topics such as: accounting cycles; financial statements; bank reconciliation payrolls; double-entry bookkeeping; journals; adjustment of entries; and closing entries.||Provide students with foundation bookkeeping and accounting knowledge to be applied in later studies.|
|Financial Accounting||Presents the basics of financial accounting concepts and procedures including: Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP); ethical standards for those doing bookkeeping and accounting; double-entries; accounting cycles; accruals; internal controls; cash; receivables; inventories; plant assets; liabilities; partnerships; corporations; investments; cash flows; and understanding of financial statements including balance sheets.||Prepare students to support the management of their employer’s or customer’s financial status as part of their bookkeeping responsibilities.|
|Managerial Accounting||Reviews managerial accounting concepts and practices as related to businesses such as those in manufacturing retail and services. Topics can include: job orders; process costs; activity-based costs; budgeting; ways of controlling costs; profits; pricing; measuring operational performance; and reporting.||Ready students to apply bookkeeping and accounting knowledge to support the collection and analysis of financial data used by management.|
|Income Tax||Surveys taxation and preparation of returns for individuals partnerships and corporations. For individuals topics cover: use of computing technology for storing and processing tax data; deductibility rules for expenses; types of taxable and untaxable incomes; ow to report various items; financial decision making related to tax impacts; and use of the web for research. For businesses studies cover relevant tax laws as enforced by the Internal Revenue Service and details on preparation of taxes for partnerships and corporations.||Prepare students to complete income tax returns for their individual and business clients.|
|Payroll Accounting||Covers aspects of payroll taxes collected by federal state and local governments including: payroll accounting systems and procedures; evaluation of claims; calculations of gross and net wages; calculations of taxes due and deductions; legal requirements; and preparation of payroll tax returns.||Ready students for bookkeeping of business payrolls.|
|Accounting Computing Systems||Presents the roles of computing systems for accounting record keeping and decision making. Topics can include: recording of daily business transactions; updating of accounts receivable and payable; generating invoices; paying bills; recording deposits; bank reconciliations; and creation of financial statements. Coursework typically involves use of a popular accounting software application such as ones from Intuit or PeachTree.||Familiarize students with the use of typical accounting software applications as part of their bookkeeping responsibilities with a focus on the use of the most popular ones.|
Briefly shows what bookkeepers and accounting clerks or assistants do as part of their daily activities. Created for the US Dept. of Labor.
Certifications and Licensing
Aspiring bookkeepers who pass a rigorous certification exam may receive an industry-standard Certified Bookkeeper award from the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers. Although this is not required for entry-level positions many employers refuse to hire non-certified bookkeepers for senior-level positions within their accounting departments. However some will pay for non-certified employees’ test materials as a courtesy.
Bookkeeping clerks must amass at least two years of relevant experience before taking the AIPB’s exam. The organization requires all of its certified members to pass occasional continuing-education courses. Unlike certified accountants professional bookkeepers are not generally held to state-level licensing requirements.
Full-time versus part-time:
Most bookkeeping clerks work at professional offices or in the accounting departments of larger businesses and agencies. Thanks to the prevalence of powerful computer-based accounting software some clerks work from home on a contract or part-time basis. However most put in 30 to 45 hours of work per week.
These professionals tend to work during regular business hours and typically aren’t required to be at the office on the weekends or in the evenings. However bookkeeping clerks in certain industries may experience periods of high volume towards the end of the fiscal year or during the holiday season. During these interludes clerks may have to work 50 hours or more per week to keep up with the demands of the job.
These resources can help aspiring bookkeeping clerks learn more about the field and advance their professional credentials.
- iSeek Careers Database — The iSeek Careers Database provides comprehensive information about bookkeeping clerks’ annual salaries work environments and minimum educational requirements. It also features a lengthy description of the typical bookkeeper’s on-the-job responsibilities.
- State of Virginia Jobs Database — Although this resource is administered by the Virginia Employment Commission the information that it contains can be applied on a national level. The highlight of this fact sheet is a detailed breakdown of the skills that all successful bookkeepers must have.
- International Association of Administrative Professionals — A non-profit professional organization that supports bookkeeping clerks as well as workers in related professions the International Association of Administrative Professionals provides continuing-education and certification resources for aspiring bookkeepers. It also administers local professional-development events on a year-round basis.
- U.S. Department of Labor — The U.S. Department of Labor’s helpful primer on bookkeeping clerks includes a detailed industry outlook that covers the coming decade. It also breaks down the licensing educational and day-to-day professional requirements for aspiring bookkeeping clerks.
- American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers — This full-service organization provides certification continuing education and job-search resources for bookkeepers and bookkeeping clerks across the country. It also works directly with the business community to connect employers with qualified bookkeeping professionals.
Salaries by City
See typical salaries and ranges for this career below*. Shift click to sort by more than one column — for example first shift-click on state and then shift-click on salary to find best and worst salaries in each state.
|State||City / Region||Typical Salary||Salary Range||Job Count||% of All Jobs|
|AL||Anniston – Oxford||$32700||400||0.90%|
|AL||Auburn – Opelika||$29650||600||1.23%|
|AL||Birmingham – Hoover||$34340||6740||1.39%|
|AL||Florence – Muscle Shoals||$30440||560||1.08%|
|AR||Fayetteville – Springdale – Rogers||$31550||2020||0.99%|
|AR||Little Rock – North Little Rock – Conway||$32840||3740||1.12%|
|AZ||Lake Havasu City $ Kingman||$31040||410||0.94%|
|AZ||Phoenix – Mesa – Glendale||$35810||18750||1.08%|
|CA||Bakersfield – Delano||$37760||2650||0.97%|
|CA||Hanford – Corcoran||$34790||460||1.23%|
|CA||Los Angeles – Long Beach – Glendale (Metro Area)||$39200||49960||1.29%|
|CA||Madera – Chowchilla||$35130||440||1.14%|
|CA||Oakland – Fremont – Hayward (Metro Area)||$44240||10420||1.07%|
|CA||Oxnard – Thousand Oaks – Ventura||$40740||3460||1.20%|
|CA||Riverside – San Bernardino – Ontario||$36210||11690||1.01%|
|CA||Sacramento – Arden – Arcade – Roseville||$39390||9520||1.16%|
|CA||San Diego – Carlsbad – San Marcos||$39270||14190||1.13%|
|CA||San Francisco – San Mateo – Redwood City (Metro Area)||$47840||12170||1.22%|
|CA||San Jose – Sunnyvale – Santa Clara||$45460||8890||0.99%|
|CA||San Luis Obispo – Paso Robles||$36730||1480||1.48%|
|CA||Santa Ana – Anaheim – Irvine (Metro Area)||$40400||17360||1.23%|
|CA||Santa Barbara – Santa Maria – Goleta||$43280||2240||1.34%|
|CA||Santa Cruz – Watsonville||$43100||1200||1.44%|
|CA||Santa Rosa – Petaluma||$42080||2420||1.40%|
|CA||Vallejo – Fairfield||$39600||1450||1.20%|
|CA||Visalia – Porterville||$33800||1380||1.05%|
|CO||Denver – Aurora – Broomfield||$36190||17460||1.42%|
|CO||Fort Collins – Loveland||$32320||1920||1.45%|
|CT||Bridgeport – Stamford – Norwalk||$43250||5410||1.31%|
|CT||Hartford – West Hartford – East Hartford||$42550||6290||1.14%|
|CT||Norwich – New London||$38300||1610||1.25%|
|DC||Washington – Arlington – Alexandria (Metro Area)||$43950||22370||0.95%|
|DE||Wilmington (Metro Area)||$38380||4630||1.44%|
|FL||Cape Coral – Fort Myers||$33490||2790||1.37%|
|FL||Crestview – Fort Walton Beach – Destin||$30840||770||1.05%|
|FL||Deltona – Daytona Beach – Ormond Beach||$30150||1660||1.09%|
|FL||Fort Lauderdale – Pompano Beach – Deerfield Beach (Metro Area)||$34170||10340||1.44%|
|FL||Lakeland – Winter Haven||$30510||2260||1.19%|
|FL||Miami – Miami Beach – Kendall (Metro Area)||$33210||12840||1.29%|
|FL||Naples – Marco Island||$33250||1280||1.11%|
|FL||North Port – Bradenton – Sarasota||$33740||3010||1.26%|
|FL||Orlando – Kissimmee – Sanford||$31670||11760||1.16%|
|FL||Palm Bay – Melbourne – Titusville||$31620||2310||1.21%|
|FL||Panama City – Lynn Haven – Panama City Beach||$29820||700||1.00%|
|FL||Pensacola – Ferry Pass – Brent||$30280||1740||1.16%|
|FL||Port St. Lucie||$34070||1430||1.18%|
|FL||Tampa – St. Petersburg – Clearwater||$31620||15340||1.36%|
|FL||West Palm Beach – Boca Raton – Boynton Beach (Metro Area)||$34920||6260||1.23%|
|GA||Athens – Clarke County||$29020||800||1.04%|
|GA||Atlanta – Sandy Springs – Marietta||$35810||28300||1.25%|
|GA||Augusta – Richmond County||$31220||2020||1.00%|
|GA||Hinesville – Fort Stewart||$29580||150||0.91%|