Lots of Australians are becoming entrepreneurial, starting small businesses on the side. As these small businesses thrive, job opportunities open up for bookkeepers. Bookkeeping is a great career option. Some bookkeepers work full time, but many work part time remotely. This type of setup offers you flexible hours and location. If you’re considering this as a career and want to offer bookkeeping services to clients, you’d need to have the qualifications to become a bookkeeper. In this article, we’ll give you an overview of the steps you need to take so you can become a certified bookkeeper.
1. Get Certified
If you don’t have a degree in finance, bookkeeping and accounting, you’d need to take a bookkeeping course and complete a certificate IV or higher in bookkeeping and accounting. The certification course will teach you how reports are prepared, how you can work with accounting programs, and maintain records. You also need to complete GST and BAS units within the certificate courses so you can register as a certified BAS agent.
Although people with experience in bookkeeping can offer bookkeeping services without a certificate to formalize their expertise, getting certified is the most straightforward way to get started and to grow your bookkeeping career. It also gives you reliability because a certificate ensures your clients that you have the depth of knowledge to serve them in a variety of different scenarios. If you are not certified, you may lose a client to bookkeepers who are certified. A certificate gives you an advanced standing.
Some finance related jobs in Australia are also becoming professionalized and regulated. It is possible that in the near future, the bookkeeping profession will have to go through professionalization as well. Knowing this, it is therefore worthwhile to get certified for a long and lasting career in bookkeeping.
2. Gain Work Experience
After getting your Certificate IV qualification, you can start offering bookkeeping services to clients, however, you won’t be able to lodge their Business Activity Statements (BAS) or perform any BAS related tasks. Well-paying clients may prefer bookkeepers who can lodge their BAS. To qualify as a BAS agent, you would need 1400 hours of relevant work experience. To accelerate your work experience, you could work as an intern or volunteer as an entry level bookkeeper.
3. Be a Member of a Certifying Body
There are a few certifying organizations for Australian bookkeepers. One of them is the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB). This organization aims to maintain and advance the professionalism of bookkeeping in the country. They set and maintain standards for things like education, experience and ongoing professional development. ICB is the largest of its kind in the world.
Another one is the Australian Bookkeepers Association (ABA). The ABA aims to advance the cause for the bookkeeping profession in Australia. It is a recognised professional bookkeeping association for BAS agents by the Tax Practitioners Board.
By joining professional organizations like these, you get the opportunity to upscale your skills though continuing professional development seminars and events.
4. Become a Registered BAS Agent
Bookkeepers may be able to handle many tasks, but BAS agents can offer more services to clients. Aside from managing the books, a BAS agent can lodge a BAS and represent a business to the Australian Tax Office. By becoming a registered BAS agent, you are positioning yourself for better client service and a more stable career in the field of bookkeeping.
Requirements to Register as a BAS Agent
1. be at least 18 years old;
2. be of good integrity and character;
3. satisfy the qualification and experience required;
4. maintain a professional indemnity insurance cover that meets the ATO’s requirement; and
5. complete an application and provide the needed supporting documents.
Learn more about registering as a BAS agent and see the complete requirement here.
5. Get Insured
Nobody is perfect. Sometimes, mistakes really happen no matter how careful you’ve been. To mitigate the risks in case you make a slight error in your client’s documents, you need to get insured.
As a registered BAS agent, you need to have professional indemnity (PI) insurance. This is used as a consumer protection mechanism so you can compensate your clients in case they suffer loss because of an error from the bookkeeping services you provided.
The Tax Practitioners Board requires that you maintain a PI insurance that meets their requirement during your period of registration as a BAS agent. You must also be able to show this in order to be eligible for renewal of your registration. Failure to maintain a PI that meets the Board’s requirement ca lead to the termination of your registration.
Tasks of a Bookkeeper
As a bookkeeper, you do many essential tasks so the business of your client can thrive. Aside from maintaining the books and making sure that the data is accurate, you may also be doing payroll, invoicing, purchasing and lodging BAS.
Essential Skills of Every Bookkeeper
Many people who gravitate towards the bookkeeping and accounting professions enjoy working with numbers and taking methodical approaches. You need to have an analytical mind and be able to adapt to new types of software applications and online platforms to be a good bookkeeper. Some of the most popular in the market are MYOB, XERO and Quickbooks. Aside from using a software, you will also be expected to use spreadsheets and ATO portals most likely on a daily basis.
Tips for Small Business Owners
Certified bookkeepers and registered BAS agents can do a lot more for your business than regular bookkeepers. If you want someone who can properly represent your business and efficiently manage your books, hire someone who has these qualifications.
ACT Bookkeeping Group is certified by the Tax Practitioners Board. Our bookkeepers are registered BAS agents. We can help with your bookkeeping. We also customize solutions based on your business needs. Contact us today for a free consultation.