How to become a Bookkeeper in Australia
Bookkeepers are responsible for maintaining the financial records of a business or company, monitoring transactions, updating statements and ensuring accuracy in addition to producing financial statements and other reports for management and supervisors.
Using accounting software, spreadsheets and databases, Bookkeepers record information from receipts, invoices and bills in order to generate reports and collate data. They will also often be given additional responsibilities like purchasing, payroll and invoicing, occasionally requiring them to communicate with clients.
In some cases, a Bookkeeper may be required to prepare Business Activity Statements (BAS) and lodge them for tax purposes. This requires registration as a BAS Agent with the Tax Practitioners Board and will improve the employment prospects of any Bookkeeper.
Do numbers, databases and spreadsheets soothe you? Does precision and order fill you with satisfaction? Follow these steps and become a Bookkeeper
Step 1: Complete a certificate course.
The first step towards becoming a Bookkeeper is to complete a certificate IV or higher in bookkeeping or accounting. This will teach you how to prepare reports, work with accounting programs and maintain records. It is also recommended that you complete GST and BAS units within the certificate courses in order to apply for BAS Agent registration.
Step 2: Gain work experience.
Once you have obtained your Cert IV qualification you will have the basic skills needed to apply for bookkeeping roles but you will be unable to perform BAS related tasks until you are more qualified. In order to legally prepare and lodge Business Activity Statements you will be required to complete 1400 hours of relevant work experience, so start knocking on doors to find a registered BAS Agent that you can learn from, either as a volunteer, intern or an entry-level bookkeeper.
Step 3: Register as a BAS Agent.
Now that you can demonstrate your experience and knowledge of GST and BAS procedures you can apply to the Tax Practitioners Board to become a registered BAS Agent. While not actually essential to a career as a Bookkeeper, a BAS Agent qualification will greatly improve your employment opportunities.
Step 4: Get your insurance.
Once you have qualified and gained registration as a BAS Agent, you will be subject to a code of professional conduct. This code enforces certain obligations, one of which is the requirement that you maintain Professional Indemnity (PI) Insurance at a specified level. This insurance indemnifies Bookkeepers from any losses incurred by their clients due to negligence or errors by said Bookkeeper.
What does a Bookkeeper do?
A Bookkeeper provides important services to businesses by recording and processing financial transactions and producing statements. Some Bookkeepers are tasked with maintaining the accounts for an entire organisation, referred to as the general ledger, while others function as accounting clerks, managing particular duties as part of a team. They verify receipts, prepare bank deposits, send payments and monitor overdue accounts. In many cases, a Bookkeeper will also be responsible for the preparation and lodgement of Business Activity Statements (BAS).
- Producing statements, and financial reports.
- Reconciling accounts.
- Identifying irregularities in transactions.
- Keeping financial records.
- Generating invoices and bank deposits.
- Preparing and lodging BAS forms.
Skills for Success
A Bookkeeper needs to be methodical and meticulous with excellent attention to detail. You will need great problem solving skills, an analytical and ordered mind and an affinity for numbers and mathematics. Because most accounting is done digitally these days, it is recommended that a Bookkeeper have some technical ability and be comfortable with at least the basic use of computers, specifically spreadsheets and databases. Successful Bookkeepers are patient and diligent with a dedication to accuracy and precision.
- Methodical work habits.
- Meticulous attention to detail.
- Numerical fluency.
- Excellent organisational skills.
- Technical ability.
- Good problem solving skills.
What is the salary of a Bookkeeper in Australia? The average annual salary for a Bookkeeper in Australia is around $53,584 but this varies based on qualifications and experience, so this number is an indicator only from Payscale 02/18