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How to become a bookkeeper

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Bookkeeping isn’t just about bills and invoices, and tracking numbers in spreadsheets. It’s about the flow of money and helping businesses to thrive. Here’s some information on how to get started.

All businesses need bookkeepers as it’s the law to keep a record of financial transactions, but a bookkeeper is essential to keep track of where cash flows in and out of the business. This is the only way to know if the business can continue operating and turn a profit.

So how do you get into this interesting and essential career?

What qualifications do I need to be a bookkeeper?

You don’t need to have a degree or any prior knowledge to start learning about bookkeeping. The most common route for someone new to accountancy is to study the AAT Professional qualification. This gives you a solid overview of accounting principles, with modules dedicated to bookkeeping and preparing accounts.

AAT also has a shorter bookkeeping qualification which focuses on the core bookkeeping modules. This allows you to qualify in a shorter period, with the option to return to the full diploma at a later date.

You could also do a three or five day ACA Practical Bookkeeping course. This provides the practical knowledge and experience of processing information and transactions.

Can I start my own bookkeeping business?

Absolutely. You can work in any business in-house, or you can set up on your own and be a sole trader, working for many different companies. You’ll need to make sure you have all the correct software in place to be able to do the job properly, and be able to explain clearly to potential clients what you can deliver.

You’ll have to register your business with HMRC, manage your own taxes, and do all the usual tasks that anyone who is self-employed has to do.

Do you need a license to be a bookkeeper in the UK?

To be a bookkeeper you need to have a money laundering license, also known as AML - Anti Money Laundering. If you don’t have this you would be breaking the law if you start a bookkeeping business from home.

License holders are offered a range of resources and guidance to help complying with your AML duties.

You can apply for this at any time of year. Applications are processed within 28 days.

How much can a bookkeeper earn?

In-house bookkeepers earn between £27-30k a year*, whilst hourly rates are between £10-15 per hour**. But salaries and rates can depend on business, location and experience.

Interested in bookkeeping?

Bookkeeping is a rewarding career path and the field is constantly growing. Have a look at our bookkeeping courses for more information.