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9 Skills You Need to Become a Professional Bookkeeper

By: Ronda Payne

Published On: May 9, 2019

Bookkeepers are all about the numbers. Right? Well, yes and no. A bookkeeper has to have an affinity for numbers and a solid understanding of bookkeeping principles, but there are other additional qualities and skills that make a good bookkeeper.

Beyond completing a professional bookkeeping or accounting program, we have identified nine skills that every professional bookkeeper or accountant needs to have:

1. A thirst for learning

You may have already taken some bookkeeping or accounting courses or are thinking about it. Getting the right education is a great first step, however, the desire for continuous learning goes beyond that. It is the urge to stay on top of any changes in the industry as well as a passion for self-improvement. For example, you could learn a new accounting software.

A bookkeeper who keeps learning not only stays relevant but also becomes more valuable to their employer and clients. However, you don’t necessarily have to enroll only in bookkeeping-related courses. You can also polish your skills in the areas of communication or problem solving for instance.

2. Organization skills

Like most jobs, bookkeeping comes with deadlines. Some are imposed by the government (taxes), while others may be imposed by your client or your employer. And just like other jobs, your tasks as a bookkeeper may get repetitive. Therefore, it’s essential to stay organized and focused. Learn to prioritize. Follow checklists to ensure things flow smoothly and in a timely fashion.

Knowing the amount of time each task takes, the order they need to be done in and by when is essential. You may need to plan weeks, months and years ahead in some cases to meet all your deadlines.

3. Communication skills

Communication is an oft-overlooked skill. A bookkeeper must be able to speak clearly and directly with clients to explain standard financial reports and issues if any. It’s impossible for bookkeepers to avoid social interaction, so good communication skills are a must.

Some communication may be electronic, while at other times it may be face-to-face. You may even be asked to give a presentation once in a while.

4. Honesty and integrity

Every professional needs these character traits, but they are particularly needed for bookkeeping. When one is dealing with sensitive financial information, these qualities become even more important. A good bookkeeper must never involve themselves in any activity that may be considered illegal or unethical. They must be a stickler for rules and regulations.

5. Meticulousness

The ability to accurately account for every single penny an organization earns and spends is part of the job. It will include looking at numerous transactions and identifying what makes sense and what doesn’t. Just like how a credit card company detects an unauthorized transaction, a good bookkeeper should be able to immediately identify when something is amiss.

6. Ability to spot trends

A bookkeeper should have the ability to look at trends and identify patterns to spot opportunities and weaknesses that can be addressed and help make the business grow and be more successful.

7. Comfort with technology

Today’s bookkeeper works in a technologically advanced world. Therefore, as a bookkeeper, you must be comfortable with using computers, new software, or cloud-based systems, and so on.

8. Ability to see the bigger picture

If a bookkeeper gets bogged down in the minutia of things, say something like employee expense reports, they may forget to look at the bigger picture. Keeping an eye on the larger goal will help a bookkeeper understand more than just the dollars and cents. It will make you better aligned with the organization’s future plans and actions.

9. Problem solving skills

Every organization needs problem solvers, not complainers. This couldn’t be truer in the financial world. Companies want bookkeepers who can not only spot issues, for instance, irregularities in the accounts or statements but who are also able to figure out what caused the abnormality and offer appropriate solutions. Additionally, bookkeepers need to be inquisitive by nature so that they have a pulse on things and are able to pre-empt issues and problems even before they crop up.

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