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How To Become A Bookkeeper In Australia: A Step-by-step Guide

Posted by Jenna Baskin on 12/06/2023
Jenna Baskin
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5 Organisational Skills you Need to Become a Successful Bookkeeper

From students in their first foray into the professional world to seasoned professionals seeking a career shift, many are drawn to the field of bookkeeping.

Bookkeeping, to put it simply, is the process of recording and organising a company's financial statements and transactions. It's the backbone of the business world, ensuring the financial ship stays afloat and on course.

If you're wondering how to become a bookkeeper in Australia, here's how.

What is a bookkeeper?

A bookkeeper is a finance professional who meticulously manages and records a company's financial transactions.

Their duties extend beyond just logging entries – they're instrumental in painting the financial picture of a business.

From tracking daily sales, purchases, and payments to reconciling bank statements, they ensure all financial data is accurate and up-to-date.

They're also adept at using accounting software and have a critical role in preparing vital financial reports.

Their detailed and accurate record-keeping forms the basis for crucial business decisions and statutory reporting. 

In essence, a bookkeeper is the financial heartbeat of an organisation, keeping the pulse of its monetary health steady and strong.

Qualifications and skills required to become a bookkeeper in Australia

Strong foundation in accounting, business, and finance

Understanding the basics of accounting, business operations, and financial management is pivotal to bookkeeping. This forms the basis of your ability to handle and manage financial transactions.

Completion of a diploma or certificate

While not strictly mandatory, having a diploma or certificate in accounting, business studies, or a related field can boost your credibility. It shows you have a structured understanding of the field and the formal education to back up your skills.

Knowledge and understanding of financial accounting, business law, and computerised accounting

Financial accounting provides the knowledge to accurately record and interpret business transactions. Business law helps in understanding the legal aspects of financial transactions. Proficiency in computerised accounting is essential as most businesses now use software to manage their financial records.

Attention to detail and accuracy in work

Bookkeeping is all about precise record-keeping. A small error can cause significant issues in a company's finances, so having a keen eye for detail and accuracy is critical.

Strong organisational skills

As a bookkeeper, you'll be handling multiple accounts and transactions. Being able to organise your work effectively ensures smooth operations and helps avoid costly errors.

Proficiency with accounting software

Knowing your way around accounting software is a must. Most businesses use these tools to automate and streamline their financial processes, and being proficient with this software is a valued skill.

Good soft skills

A good bookkeeper is also a trusted partner in business. Integrity and confidentiality are key to maintaining this trust. Strong communication skills are also essential to effectively convey financial information to clients and colleagues.

Commitment to continuing education

The financial world is always evolving. By continuing your education, you'll be able to stay ahead of changes in regulations and technology, making you a valuable asset to any business.

How to become a bookkeeper in Australia: steps to success

Step 1: Choose a bookkeeping program

Many educational institutions offer a range of bookkeeping programs, each tailored to different levels of competency and career objectives.

Some may focus more on the basics, suitable for those just starting out, while others may offer more advanced topics for experienced professionals looking to enhance their skills.

Review the curriculum of these programs, consider your long-term career goals, your preferred learning style, and select an online certificate course that aligns well with them.

Step 2: Obtain the necessary formal qualifications and experience

Once you've chosen your program, the next step is to complete it diligently, absorbing the in-depth knowledge of financial transactions and mastering the use of accounting software.

But the learning doesn't stop here. Practical experience is just as important as theoretical knowledge.

Look for internships or part-time jobs that will give you hands-on experience. This will not only give you a better understanding of the work but also provide you with insights into the practical challenges that bookkeepers face.

Step 3: Gain experience

There's no substitute for relevant work experience. Seek out entry-level positions in bookkeeping to start applying your learned skills in a real-world context.

This experience will be invaluable when dealing with complex financial scenarios and gives you the opportunity to refine your skills and learn the intricacies of the job.

Step 4: Register as a Business Activity Statements (BAS) agent

Once you have your qualifications and experience in order, the next step to enhancing your credibility as a bookkeeper in Australia is to register as a BAS agent.

A BAS agent is registered with the Tax Practitioners Board and is legally allowed to provide BAS services for a fee. This includes advising on or preparing parts of a client's BAS.

It's a significant milestone in a bookkeeper's career as it allows you to offer a broader range of services to clients.

This registration also underscores your professionalism and adherence to the high standards set by the Tax Practitioners Board, boosting your employability and standing within the industry.

Step 5: Get insured

Having insurance is not just a good business practice, it's a critical one, especially in a field like bookkeeping where you handle sensitive financial data.

Depending on your specific situation, consider professional indemnity insurance to protect against potential claims made by clients due to errors or omissions in your work.

This is particularly important for registered BAS agents, as it's a requirement by the Tax Practitioners Board.

Insurance provides a safety net for you and your business, and also gives clients confidence in your services, knowing that there are safeguards in place.

How to succeed as a professional bookkeeper in Australia

  1. Build a strong network: Networking can open doors to job opportunities and provide a platform for learning from others in your field.
  2. Develop good communication skills: As a bookkeeper, you'll often need to explain complex financial concepts in simple terms. Good communication skills are invaluable.
  3. Keep up with industry trends: The financial industry is dynamic. Stay informed about changes in regulations and advancements in technology.
  4. Stay organised and efficient: Managing finances can be a juggling act. Being organised and efficient is vital to ensure no ball drops.
  5. Build a good reputation: A good reputation takes years to build but seconds to destroy. Always maintain professional integrity.

Future prospects for your bookkeeping career

The demand for bookkeepers remains steady, thanks to their vital role in every business sector. No matter the size or industry, businesses need skilled bookkeepers to manage and record their financial transactions. As such, job prospects are generally good for those entering the field.

When it comes to remuneration, the average salary for bookkeepers in Australia can vary based on factors like experience, skills, and certifications. As a rough guide, as of 2023, you could expect to earn an average of $60,000 to $70,000 per annum.

Career advancement opportunities are plentiful. With experience, you could progress to roles such as Senior Bookkeeper, Accounting Supervisor, or even Chief Financial Officer. 

Alternatively, you could choose to specialise in a particular area of bookkeeping, such as tax or payroll, or even start your own bookkeeping business.

Get started with your bookkeeping career today

Embarking on a career as a successful bookkeeper in Australia is an exciting journey. The road may seem long, but remember – every step you take is a step closer to your goal. So, get your number-crunching hats on and start your journey in the world of bookkeeping!

Remember, like any other profession, success in bookkeeping doesn't come overnight. But with the right mix of qualifications, skills, experience, and a never-ending desire to learn, you can not only become a bookkeeper in Australia but excel in this field. 

Explore our Certificate IV in Accounting and Bookkeeping to get started.

But, if you still find yourself struggling with bookkeeping, don’t worry. Enrol in online accounting courses with us. We offer a wide range of options for students in Australia who want to become successful bookkeepers.

Take the first step to developing organisational bookkeeping skills that can help you create a thriving future for yourself.

Book your free consult now

Topics: accounting, diploma of accounting, online business course, online diploma of accounting, online accounting courses, business online, Accounting and Bookkeeping, Bookkeeping, Certificate IV in Accounting and Bookkeeping

By Jenna Baskin

Jenna Baskin is the CEO of MCI and has over 11 years’ experience in the training and education space. She was responsible for the creation of the MCI's online consumer division, the MCI Institute, and the transition of the organisation into the digital learning landscape. This includes platform partnerships across North America, unique content development, and the introduction of virtual reality learning methodologies.