How to Become a Bookkeeper In Australia

Wondering how to become a registered bookkeeper? Here's an outline of what to expect when working as one and the steps required to become certified and start your own bookkeeping business.

How Do You Become A Certified Bookkeeper?

Do you want to become a qualified bookkeeper but are unsure how to begin the process? We’ve provided easy-to-follow information for aspiring bookkeepers in Australia.

Becoming a bookkeeper is a relatively straightforward process. There are courses available through registered training organisations, either online or in a classroom setting. You have the opportunity to choose from a range of different courses that best suit your lifestyle.

You can complete a Bachelor’s Degree of Accounting or similar. However, if you are not interested in committing three years of your life to studying then you can start a Certificate IV in Accounting and Bookkeeping (FNS40217). This is a 6 month full-time commitment and is a nationally recognised qualification. Upon completion of this course, you will have the opportunity to work for an employer or you can become a contract bookkeeper.

VET Student Loans are no longer available for the accredited bookkeeping courses which include the Certificate IV and below. However, you may be eligible for Austudy or a Pensioner Education Supplement. Please note that the Certificate IV doesn’t automatically qualify you as a BAS Agent.

BAS Agents are bookkeepers who are qualified to prepare and file business activity statements for their clients. 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.

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.

Visit our BAS Agent page for more information on how to gain registration.

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,
  • Recording financial transactions,
  • Reporting irregularities in expenditure reports,
  • Setting up accounting software or add-ons,
  • Preparation of monthly financial reports,
  • Producing financial statements.

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

What bookkeeping skills do you need?

Those who work as a bookkeeper gravitate towards the profession because they enjoy working with numbers and taking a methodical approach. Others are drawn to the flexibility of being a bookkeeper, as they have the opportunity to work from home or remotely. This usually leads to a better work-life balance.

Strong problem-solving skills are a must in the bookkeeping industry, whether you’re working from home or have your own business. Solid computer skills and the ability to adapt to new software applications and online platforms is a requirement for bookkeeping professionals in the current digital landscape. After all, the days of ‘keeping books’ are long gone and most of the work performed by bookkeepers is computer based.

Certified bookkeepers will need to have high attention to detail and be comfortable working with spreadsheets and databases. The bookkeeping software that is used for small businesses and other clients includes:

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

These are some of the major accounting software and applications bookkeepers use. Spreadsheet apps, ATO portals and other various software platforms are used on a daily basis in the accounting industry.

How do you become a certified bookkeeper if you are currently working?

If you have work experience or you’re currently working full-time or part-time, you will have the option to study at TAFE or through a Registered Training Organisation (RTO). Flexible part time, online and accelerated learning options are also available.

How to become a freelance bookkeeper?

Many want to know how to become a bookkeeper from home particularly when freelancing your services presents an opportunity to work from home. Bookkeepers no longer require extensive software packages, tons of space for paper files, meeting rooms or additional clerical work.

This means it’s easier for BAS agents to freelance. As long as you’re certified, have a good internet connection, a working laptop and the right software, you’re free to work anywhere in the world.

Here are some tips for aspiring freelancers:

  • Speak to professional bookkeepers to find out what software and apps they use. It’s essential to do thorough research on the bookkeeping tools required for the job, as they can either make or break a freelance business.
  • Stay organised and on top of your own bookkeeping. You can easily become engrossed in a client’s financial records and forget to monitor your own.
  • Invest in digital marketing to help build a customer base.

How to start a bookkeeping business in Australia?

A freelancer only gets paid when they work, which is suitable for certain lifestyles. However, the entrepreneurs among us might prefer to build a business bigger than themselves to offer bookkeeping services. This usually involves higher financial risks with the goal of gaining long-term profit. Which is the main point of difference between being a freelance bookkeeper and starting your own bookkeeping business.

Starting a bookkeeping business in Australia can be a great opportunity for those who have experience in accounting and finance, and are passionate about helping small business owners manage their finances. However, making your bookkeeping business profitable requires careful planning, knowledge of industry regulations, and the right tools and skills.

Here are some tips on starting a bookkeeping business:

Do your research and create a comprehensive business plan.

  • Find out the demand for bookkeeping services in the area you want to set up your business. Identify the competition, their prices, and services they offer. Use this information to come up with a business plan that outlines your goals, strategies, target market, and financial projections and also defines your business structure.

Ensure you are complying with the rules and regulations of bookkeeping, by obtaining the right qualifications and registrations.

  • This includes obtaining the necessary qualifications and registrations. Keeping up-to-date with industry regulations and changes in tax laws can be challenging, which is where Australian Bookkeepers Network can help. As a member, you’ll gain access to training resources, networking opportunities and career support. It also shows prospective clients that you are committed to ongoing learning and professional development.

Invest in Professional Indemnity Insurance.

  • This coverage can help safeguard your bookkeeping business against potential claims made by clients who allege that they have suffered loss or damage as a result of your professional services. By investing in PI insurance, you can continue to operate with confidence, knowing that you're protected from the unpredictable risks of the profession.

Invest in high-quality business accounting software.

  • This software should be user-friendly and provide the necessary features to manage cash flow, expenses, invoicing, and reporting. Additionally, access to online accounting software can make your service delivery more efficient and accessible to your clients. You should also consider practice management software. These tools enable you to manage workflows and get your business in order.

Market your bookkeeping services.

  • Finding clients is often one of the most challenging aspects for new bookkeeping businesses. You can start by reaching out to small businesses in your local area, networking with other professionals in the industry, and advertising your services online through your website or social media platforms. You may also want to consider offering a free initial consultation to potential clients as part of your marketing strategy to showcase your expertise and build trust. Don’t be afraid to ask for referrals from satisfied clients either, as word-of-mouth can be a powerful tool for building a successful bookkeeping business.

How to start a bookkeeping business with no experience?

Many are curious about how to start up a bookkeeping business with little to no experience. The digital era has brought growing opportunities for a registered BAS agent to be their own boss. However, you will still need adequate bookkeeping training, qualifications and 1,400 hours of relevant experience to start your own bookkeeping business. With an ABN membership the hours of experience are reduced from 1,400 to 1,000.

How to start a bookkeeping business online?

There are a number of advantages to starting a virtual bookkeeping business. You’ll have the option to work from home or remotely (which means you don’t need to pay for an office space) and you’ll have the freedom to create your own schedule. You can still easily track financial transactions and create financial reports for a diverse range of companies with the right software and a fast internet connection.

The tips outlined above still apply when starting an online or work from home bookkeeping business. However, there are a few things to be mindful of when starting an online bookkeeping business:

  • Spend time researching how you’re going to connect with clients. You can connect remotely to access their books, use cloud-based bookkeeping software or gain access through a hosted virtual desktop.
  • Invest in good security! This will protect client’s sensitive information and work to build trust with potential clients.
  • Find the right video conferencing apps so you can connect with business owners to discuss any discrepancies with their financial transactions.

Please contact us if you need more support across the following areas:

  • How to start a bookkeeping business from home
  • How to start a bookkeeping business with no experience
  • How to become a remote bookkeeper
  • How to start bookkeeping for a small business
  • How to grow your bookkeeping business

You can reach us either by phone, email or by sending in an enquiry form.


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