Our guide to bookkeeping
Kristina K

Our guide to bookkeeping

First published date November 26 2013 Amended date August 07 2015

Have you got a head for numbers? Maybe you’re considering a career in finance? Whether you’re an entry-level bookkeeper or already have some basics, building a strong foundation and improving your skills will help you secure a job. Not for the faint-hearted and suitable for those who relish in steep learning curves, bookkeeping is challenging and will keep you on your toes. So if you’re mathematically inclined, enrol on our wide range of bookkeeping courses.  


What is bookkeeping?

Bookkeeping is the recording, on a day-to-day basis of the financial transactions and information pertaining to a business. The practice dates back from the remotest of times and its purpose ultimately was to document daily transactions, which included receipts and expenditures. It is concerned with ensuring that records of those individual financial transactions are accurate, up-to-date and comprehensive. Bookkeeping provides the information from which accounts are prepared but is a distinct process, preliminary to accounting.


Do you run your own business?

Even if you don’t wish to make bookkeeping your career, being well-versed in it is an added advantage. If you run a business, a good understanding of bookkeeping processes will ensure the smooth running of successful businesses – tycoons like J.P. Morgan, Phil Knight and John Rockefeller all started their careers as bookkeepers. Get yourself familiarised with double entry bookkeeping, cash and petty cash books, bank reconciliations, control accounts and trial balance, stock record and calculation of wages, and adjustments for accruals and bad debts.


Everyone needs a bookkeeper

Most businesses out there need a competent bookkeeper. The responsibility of a bookkeeper ranges from issuing payroll checks for a job with a small business, right up to supporting accountants of a mid-level firm. Because bookkeepers manage important business responsibilities like invoices and auditing, companies are always on the lookout for highly efficient bookkeepers so a course could be the start of a great career.


What do you learn?

You’ll be introduced to numerous T-accounting and practical exercises on double-entry bookkeeping,  gain a clear grounding in the principles of bookkeeping and learn how to record financial transactions in a ledger system, reconcile a bank statement, maintain a cash book, and balance petty cash. At diploma level, you can choose popular electives to study like manual payroll, Excel, company law and Sage payroll.


Other duties of a bookkeeper

As a bookkeeper, you perform a variety of duties. You prepare, control, balance and check various accounts using standard bookkeeping methods. You enter daily financial transactions in a journal either manually or by computer. Some of the things you’ll learn on a course include software overview, company setup, customer and suppliers setup, opening balances, adjustments, profit and loss, accounting for non-profit making organisations, data protection act and software access rights, stock valuations and ratio analyses, accounting for partnerships, manufacturing accounts, and limited company accounts.



There are so many bookkeeping qualifications that it can sometimes be confusing as to which one suits you best. When deciding on which ones to go for, take into account your ambitions, whether you intend to work part time from home or run a full fledge bookkeeping business, your commitments to work and family, and other important criteria. For those who are interested in setting up their own bookkeeping practice, there are bookkeeping courses like the AAS Training that offers to help students with that. The Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB) and International Association of Book-Keepers (IAB) qualifications allow students to sit for exams on demand, giving students the flexibility to speed up their course.


Job opportunities

Many companies prefer to promote from within and bookkeepers are in excellent positions for advancement due to their intimate understanding of the organisation’s finances. With a solid bookkeeping background, you’ll find yourself moving up the corporate ladder quickly onto management roles. Alternatively, there are loads of part time jobs available in bookkeeping, allowing you to arrange work flexibly around your schedule.


Interesting facts

·         The ancient Romans were obsessed with record keeping. Their military bases kept detailed accounts on everything from how much grain was in their stores to how many nails were in their workshops.

·         Chicago crime boss Al Capone was finally brought down in 1931 by FBI accountants. Although believed responsible for crimes ranging from bootlegging to murder, Capone was ultimately arrested and confiscated for income tax evasion.

·         Many people believe the term ‘bean counter’, used to describe an overzealous or detail-obsessed accountant, dates back centuries. In fact, it’s only been around since the 1970s. 

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