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Managing books, estimating tax amounts, understanding the businesses accounts…these are all aspects of a bookkeeper’s job that a business relies on to stay solvent. With the financial standing of a small business often coming down to a single person, it is important for that one person to have the knowledge and skills necessary to help your business succeed. But what makes a good bookkeeper? Well, there are a variety of factors that can help determine whether or not a person will be up to the task.

A good bookkeeper, first and foremost, is able to use math and accounting skills to manage and work with numbers. They do this with accounting software and technology that allows them to be fast and efficient, but they still have the ability to manually go through the numbers when necessary…which can be often. Since many other aspects of the bookkeeping job revolve around the core technology being used, it is necessary to have an understanding of the primary accounting software being used by small businesses, which is usually some version of Intuit’s QuickBooks or a program from Sage.

Bookkeepers can have a specialty or area of the business that they focus on, but they are usually not simply limited to accounts payable and accounts receivable. They generally handle payroll, purchasing, paying bills and then track money to provide reports and data to help business owners and managers make better financial decisions. Along with upper management, a bookkeeper will also often work with your CPA, legal representative and other professionals that help you run your business. So it’s good to make sure they have the necessary skills to communicate with these parties.

Certified Bookkeepers vs. Non-Certified Bookkeepers

Since certified bookkeepers are less likely to make mistakes, it is more common for a growing business with multiple employees to hire someone with professional certifications. Although college degrees are not required beforehand, certifications show an advanced understanding of the accounting process. Certified bookkeepers (CBs) often start with some level of experience, and then go on to receive training from those that are extremely experienced in the field, such as an accountant or bookkeeper. Certification programs from accredited associations, such as the AIPB or NACB, take approximately one year to complete. And since an individual is then required to log a certain amount of hands-on time working in the field before the coveted “CB” is earned, employers know that professional has a certain level of experience already.

What to look for on a bookkeeper’s resume

Although a person might not come to you from a business that is exactly like yours, there are many industries that may have developed the skills you need in a bookkeeper. Inventory management, for example, consists of some fundamental skills that can be applied to any business keeping track of products. So keep an eye out for general experiences and not specific skills listed on a resume. In addition, look for professionals that tend to keep up-to-date with the latest best practices and technology. If a person only knows how to use an obsolete accounting program from the past, they might not be the best person to help you move forward with growing your business.

If you need help locating a bookkeeper with the training and skills your business needs, or if you would like to improve your current bookkeeper’s skills with advanced training, contact the Bookkeeping Career Institute today. We work to train and place more bookkeepers for small businesses than any other institution in the Portland area.

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