When considering starting a career in a field, or perhaps making a career switch further down the road, the first issue that anyone deals with is a barrier to entry. The reality is that many professional fields require licenses, class credits, degrees, certifications, or some other kind of formal educational acknowledgment in order to even be considered for hire. Even if you manage to acquire these things, which is oftentimes a considerable time and financial sink, many companies additionally require actual experience to get hired in the field – The classic job-hunting catch 22: You need experience to get hired, but you need to get hired to get experience.
When considering venturing down the road towards a career in any field, one must carefully consider a barrier to entry. Are the future job prospects and return on investment worth the upfront cost? Here we want to help you do this cost-benefit analysis if you’re considering bookkeeping as a career path.
Is formal certification or education of any kind specifically required to be a bookkeeper for a small business?
The answer is no, there is not. In the United States, there are no formal, nor legal certification requirements to be a bookkeeper. If your thinking about becoming a bookkeeper, particularly one for a small business or startup, this is good news for you. Bookkeeping is a great entry-level field to pursue because it is a need that literally every business in the world has, and the formal barrier to entry is relatively low.
However, just because there are no formal certification requirements, it does not mean that you don’t need to possess a specific skill set in order to be a bookkeeper. There are general professional qualities that any bookkeeper must have: Strong mathematical and analytical skills, attention to detail, an organization to name some. Additionally, all bookkeepers must understand, at a minimum, basic accounting principles, as well as how to use bookkeeping software such as Quickbooks. No company will consider hiring you unless you can prove that you have working knowledge in these areas.
Bookkeeping and accounting are very broad fields. There are positions available that you could conceivably fill merely showing the employer that you’re smart, dedicated, and possess at least a basic knowledge of the field & a desire to learn. Other, higher-level positions for larger companies with more complex finances will require a lot of formal education and certification as well as many years of professional experience.
To summarize, bookkeeping is a great entry-level field because there is a low formal barrier to entry, and if you take it upon yourself to learn the necessary skills to be qualified, you can fill a need that every single small business in the world has. You have to put in the time to learn though, and if you want to truly be successful you must always continue to learn even after you get the job.