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How to Become a Certified Bookkeeper

Wondering how to become a certified bookkeeper in Australia? Read about working as a bookkeeper and the qualifications needed to become one.

How to Become a Bookkeeper With Australian Certification

In Australia the statutory recognised term for a Certified Bookkeeper is actually a registered BAS Agent.

Do you want to become a qualified bookkeeper but are unsure of what is required to become registered as a bookkeeper in Australia?

Wonder about the steps involved to become a certified bookkeeper in Australia so you can provide long term bookkeeping services to clients? Becoming a bookkeeper is a relatively straightforward process. There are a number of courses available through accredited providers, either online or in a classroom.

The FNS40217 – Certificate IV in Accounting and Bookkeeping qualification needed to be a bookkeeper completed in 6 months (Full time study). Upon completion of this course, you can choose to work for an employer or you can become a freelance bookkeeper. In effect, that makes you your own business owner.

How do you become a certified bookkeeper if you have work experience and you’re working full time or part time? This will depend on whether you study at TAFE or through a Registered Training Organisation (RTO). Flexible part time, online and accelerated learning options are also available.

VET Student Loans are no longer available for the accredited bookkeeping courses Cert IV and below. However, you may be eligible for Austudy or a Pensioner Education Supplement.

Please note that this course doesn’t automatically qualify you as a BAS Agent.

To become a Registered BAS Agent, you’ll need to engage in Continued Professional Education (CPE) in bookkeeping (1400 hours of relevant experience). You will also have to undertake a formal application process through the TPB. The Australian Bookkeepers Network has a special service called ABN BAS. This network can assist new bookkeepers gain their hours of relevant experience by acting as their supervising agents.

This professional development for bookkeepers can be reduced to 1000 hours for Australian Bookkeepers Association (ABA) members. As an ABN member you will receive complimentary membership with ABA.

What does a bookkeeper do?

Bookkeepers are responsible for a variety of essential tasks that help businesses to operate profitably and compliantly. Depending on the client, these tasks can include:

  • maintaining and ensuring the accuracy of financial records,
  • collating data,
  • updating statements,
  • monitoring transactions, setting up accounting software or add-ons
  • producing financial reports.

Additional responsibilities may include payroll, invoicing, purchasing and lodging Business Activity Statements (BAS), which requires BAS Registration with the Tax Board.

What skills does a bookkeeper need?

Those who work as a bookkeeper gravitate towards the profession because they enjoy working with numbers and taking a methodical approach. Others flock at the opportunity as you can become a bookkeeper at home and enjoy the work life balance.

Whether it be to work from home or have your own professional bookkeeping business, you will find that strong problem-solving skills are a must in the bookkeeping industry. So are solid computer skills and the ability to adapt to new software applications and online platforms.

After all, the days of ‘keeping books’ are long gone and most of the work performed by bookkeepers is computer based. You will need to have high attention to detail and be comfortable working with spreadsheets and databases. The bookkeeping software that you’ll be required to use when providing bookkeeping services for small business and other clients includes:

  • MYOB
  • Xero
  • Reckon
  • QuickBooks
  • Sage
  • And many more

These are a handful of major accounting and bookkeeping applications available for bookkeepers. You will also use spreadsheet apps, ATO portals and other various software platforms on a daily basis.


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