If you are thinking of a career switch to bookkeeping, one of the most daunting questions you have what does it take to enter this field; what are the barriers to entry or better yet, how can I repurpose my current skills and abilities to fit into a new career. Let's discuss the educational and training requirements that you should have along with how to obtain experience in this field.
- Most bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerk job opportunities require that a candidate earned a high school diploma. They must have basic math and computer skills, including knowledge of spreadsheets and an accounting software. However, most employers prefer that you have some accounting coursework obtained either through college credits or continuing education classes. As a matter of fact, bookkeeping jobs are ideal for working college students.
- Having some classroom or online training background is particularly helpful when you are looking for a job in this field especially when you have little or no related work experience in bookkeeping. While on-the-job training, typically informal is provided through the guidance of your supervisor or another experienced employee; employers prefer that you hit the ground running when you start working and spend the training time on other matters like understanding the organization’s business practices, culture and how they do business. Remember also that with appropriate experience and education, some bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks may become accountants or auditors.
- I’m often faced with the question of ‘gaining workplace experience’ from my students. The question is how you can obtain experience when job opportunities require that you have it before you are even hired. This is not uncommon. How can I have experience when nobody is giving me the opportunity to be hired and gain experience? If you are a college graduate or student, contact your career services department for possible leads for internship. Colleges often have relationships with local companies. They can facilitate the introductions for you and this is one way to start. Also, consider unpaid internships if paid ones are not available particularly if ‘experience’ is all that you’re looking for. I’ve mentored many students who started out as unpaid interns and landed in successful positions within the company months later.
- Also, look around within your community and find volunteering opportunities at nonprofit of community based organizations. Remember, nonprofit organizations always conduct fundraising events throughout the year; consider volunteering for them. Each fundraising project is a complete accounting process by itself where you will learn about financial transactions such as revenues, expenses, assets, liabilities and capital. Not only are you gaining practical experience this way, you are also helping the organization’s cause. Of course, make sure that when you are involved in these types of activities – you update your resume to include this work. This will count as experience for you.