How to Start an Entry-Level Accounting Career

What Bookkeepers and Accounting Clerks Do Day-To-Day

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, bookkeeping and accounting clerks produce financial records for organizations. They record financial transactions, update statements, and check financial records for accuracy. Bookkeeping, and accounting clerks typically do the following on a day-to-day basis:

  • Use bookkeeping software, online spreadsheets, and databases
  • Post financial transactions into the appropriate accounting software
  • Receive and record cash, checks, and vouchers
  • Put debits and credits into the accounting software, assigning each to an appropriate account
  • Produce reports including balance sheets, income statements, and totals by account
  • Check for accuracy in figures, postings, and reports
  • Reconcile or note and report any differences they find in the records

Bookkeepers often are responsible for an organization’s accounts, known as the general ledger. Bookkeepers record all transactions and post debits and credits. Bookkeepers also create financial statements and other reports for supervisors and managers. Bookkeepers also prepare bank deposits by compiling data from cashiers, verifying receipts, and sending cash, checks, or other forms of payment to the bank.

Accounting clerks can work for larger companies and have more specialized tasks. An accounting clerks’ titles, accounts payable clerk or accounts receivable clerk, often reflect the type of accounting they do. Entry-level accounting clerks may post details of transactions, add up accounts, and determine interest charges. They also may monitor loans and accounts to ensure that payments are up to date.

Skills of a Successful Accountant and Bookkeeper

Computer skills. Bookkeeping and accounting clerks need to be comfortable using computer spreadsheets and bookkeeping software including QuickBooks and Microsoft Office.

Detail oriented. Bookkeeping and accounting clerks are responsible for producing accurate financial records. They must pay attention to detail in order to avoid making errors and recognize errors that others have made.

Integrity. Bookkeeping and accounting clerks have control of an organization’s financial documentation, which they must keep confidential. It is vital that the bookkeeper and accounting clerks keep records transparent and guard against misappropriating an organization’s funds.

Math skills. Bookkeeping and accounting clerks deal with numbers daily and should be comfortable with basic arithmetic.

How To Become a Bookkeeper or Accounting Clerk

Step #1 – Enroll in a Career College

2 years of higher education are required by almost all employers. Career colleges provide career focused education for the purpose of gaining entry-level employment and advancement opportunities.

Step #2 – Master Accounting & Bookkeeping Software

Some of the software an accounting and bookkeeping clerk uses every day include Microsoft Office and QuickBooks.

Microsoft Office is an office suite of applications, servers, and services developed by Microsoft. Microsoft Office includes Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint & Outlook. Microsoft Office can be used with both Microsoft Windows and Apple Macintosh operating systems.

QuickBooks is an accounting software package designed to manage payroll, inventory, sales and other accounting needs of a business.

Step #3 – Get an Externship at a Local Business

The Bookkeeping and Accounting Program student should spend at least 120 hours in a typical accounting office setting. An externship will offer real-world experience and the ability to network, helping the student get a job after graduation.

Step #4 – Graduate from an Accredited Career College

Once you graduate from the career college, you will have a diploma showing your potential employer that you spent 2 years learning about your field of study. It is confirmation that you are skilled in the disciplines of bookkeeping and accounting.

Step #5 – Start an Entry-Level Position as a Bookkeeper or Accounting Clerk

Many career colleges offer career services to students and graduates to assist them in obtaining in-field employment. Career Services offers assistance with career portfolio building, resume writing, interview skill development, grooming, networking skills and effective job search training. Career College career services work closely with the employment community to help students find an in-field job after graduation.

Ready to take the first step in your new career as a bookkeeper or accounting clerk? The Gwinnett College accounting diploma program is designed to prepare college graduates to seek entry-level positions in the accounting and bookkeeping fields. The Gwinnett College graduate may work as an accounts receivable or accounts payable clerk, bookkeeper, payroll clerk, accounting assistant or inventory control clerk.