Remote bookkeeping is a great field if you’re looking for a work-from-home job. If you want to be home with your kids, bookkeeping is something that could work well. We all know how noisy even the most well-behaved kids can be! Background noise isn’t a problem while doing bookkeeping since you don’t need to spend much time on the phone. Bookkeeping allows you to start and stop throughout the day to tend to the kids. It does require a certain level of concentration but still doable even with little ones under foot. The nice thing about having a bookkeeping business is that expenses can be very low. Also there is a huge market for remote bookkeeping. Many businesses don’t need a full-time staff to do their accounting and would rather hire out.
Is Accounting a good fit for you?
To be successful at accounting, you should be okay with seeing a LOT of numbers all day! You should be good at problem solving for those times when an account is not in balance and you have to figure out where the mistake is. You don’t necessarily need to be good at math, since most of accounting math is basic addition and subtraction. Accounting is a business field, not a math field. You should be good with learning new technology quickly since you will probably be using a lot of online tools to do the work.
What background should you have?
I strongly recommend some sort of formal college education to gain a good foundation of accounting. You don’t necessarily need a degree. Check with your local community college to see what programs they offer. They may offer a certificate in accounting. My local community college offers an Accounting certificate program consisting of 6 classes. Those 6 classes can also be used towards the two year Accounting degree. So you could start with the certificate to get something on your resume, and then work towards a degree later. Since many community colleges offer online classes, check with community colleges throughout your state if your local college doesn’t offer any programs.
Education is recommended but certainly not required. I see plenty of bookkeepers who never went to college for accounting. Many employers seek someone with a lot of experience in the accounting field. If you have any experience in accounting at all, you have a good chance of getting a bookkeeping job.
If you don’t have any experience or education, it’s going to be much more difficult to break into the field. I would recommend taking any job you can get. Be patient because you may have to apply to a lot of jobs before you get one. You may have better luck getting a job that has an accounting component in it and building your resume from that. I know many bookkeepers who started out as something else (administrative assistant, paralegal) and were also doing bookkeeping for the company as part of their job.
What else can you do to increase your chances of getting clients?
I highly recommend setting up a QuickBooks Online ProAdvisor account. There are tutorial videos that teach you how to use QuickBooks Online. You can get QuickBooks Online Certified by taking the tests. It doesn’t cost any money. Warning: The tutorial videos are really boring. If you don’t like the videos, there are supplemental guides that you could read instead.
What is the schedule like for a remote bookkeeper?
The schedule will vary widely depending on the employer. Remote bookkeeping is almost always a part-time job. You will probably need to work for several companies at once to earn a living. Most of the work is in the first week of the month. Companies want to get their customer invoices out during that time, and get their bank accounts reconciled. I have learned not to schedule any appointments on the first week of the month! The workload during the rest of the month is usually a lot lighter. The nice thing about bookkeeping is you can usually do it any time of the day you want. If you want to work at midnight, you can. If you want to get up and work at 5:00 am, you can. Just make sure you are available during the typical work day to answer emails. Of course this varies widely with specific employers. I work for another bookkeeping company (doing their bookkeeping and also working on some of their clients) and he wants us to do most of our work during business hours. One of the other companies I work for doesn’t like me to send invoices during non-business hours. I personally prefer to work as close to a typical business schedule as I can but I love having a lot of flexibility in my schedule.
The number of hours you work will probably be minimal at first. As your business grows and you get more clients, your hours will grow. It takes a long time to build up enough clients to make a decent living from it.
What types of companies are good to work for?
I highly recommend you try to get a job working for another bookkeeping company. It really helps you see how other companies run their business and will help you figure out what works and doesn’t work. I have worked for a few bookkeeping companies and that has been a huge learning experience for me. Getting into a company that will train and guide you is ideal if you are relatively new to bookkeeping.
How do you find jobs?
This is the difficult part. The best way to get jobs is through word of mouth. When I started looking for remote bookkeeping jobs, I was not able to find one at first. I had to take a part-time job on site at a local law firm to make my resume current in the field (I had taken some time off of my career to be a stay at home mom). After working there for several months, they referred their friend and colleague to me. He was my first client. I’ve gotten several jobs by answering job postings on websites such as indeed, craiglist, and upwork. Another good avenue of getting new clients would be networking events in your local area. You could also hire a good marketing company to help you advertise.
Please comment below if you have any thoughts about working as a remote bookkeeper.