14 Important Bookkeeper Skills To Consider Mastering

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 2 July 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If working as a bookkeeper appeals to you, there are some qualities you can cultivate to secure a job and succeed in this role. Accounting skills can help you understand and work with a company's financial data and complete other essential bookkeeping tasks. Learning about the most important qualities to develop for this role can help you prepare for a career in bookkeeping. In this article, we examine what are the requirements for bookkeepers, how it differs from being an accountant, how to develop 13 useful bookkeeper skills and how to highlight these skills.

What Are Bookkeeper Skills?

Bookkeeper skills are specific competencies that enable bookkeepers to perform their duties effectively and efficiently. These include numeracy, invoicing, ledger management, knowledge of spreadsheet software, attention to detail and data entry. Apart from these technical competencies, bookkeepers may also benefit from developing a range of soft skills relevant to their practice. These include discipline, commitment, transparency and memory, and are usually part of an individual's personality, although professionals can develop them with sustained effort.

Related: What Is An Accountant? Types And Career Advice

13 Examples Of Useful Bookkeeping Skills

These are some skills to develop to succeed as a bookkeeper:

1. Attention to detail

For handling a company's financial data, bookkeepers are required to pay attention to detail. This can help prevent problems or mistakes from arising and leading to larger discrepancies in a company's records. Because they use bookkeeping files and workflows to aid in making critical business decisions, they are liable to present companies with accurate data.

2. Invoicing

Invoicing refers to the process of itemising a transaction and detailing each charge on a bill. Working for businesses, bookkeepers are typically in charge of invoicing processes. They can find information about a transaction between buyers and sellers by learning how to read invoice documents. Bookkeepers can track revenue coming into a business and track outgoing payments by preparing, reading and interpreting invoices.

3. Critical thinking

While working with company records, bookkeepers use critical thinking to solve problems and overcome challenges. They can interpret the meaning of records and identify trends, patterns and irregularities in business transactions by employing critical thinking. They may also come up with ideas for how to proceed based on the information that is available to them. While reconciling bank statements, balancing cheque books, migrating records and determining the source of errors, bookkeepers rely on critical thinking to deliver good quality work.

Related: Critical Thinking Skills: Definitions And Examples

4. Organisation skills

Bookkeepers use organisation skills to prioritise and plan their tasks. They may routinely organise information for short- and long-term projects. They may also maintain financial records in a specific system so that they can access them easily at a later point in time.

5. Communication skills

The ability to present information to clients is an important part of a bookkeeper's job. They can benefit from being able to communicate both in person and through electronic correspondence in this role. Bookkeepers use communication skills to collaborate internally, discuss deadlines, request documents and clarify details with colleagues and they may manage records from multiple departments simultaneously.

6. Numeracy

Bookkeepers can benefit from numeracy and basic mathematical skills as they routinely work with numbers. While communicating numeric data and sharing reports with accountants or other business stakeholders, this becomes especially useful. Bookkeepers' routine tasks may entail processing numbers and performing simple calculations like addition, subtraction and multiplication.

Related: 8 Steps Of The Accounting Process (With Key Terms)

7. Time management skills

Time management is another important skill for bookkeepers to have, as it allows them to meet deadlines and address their responsibilities during working hours. In this role, being able to structure a schedule is important for ensuring that you complete all your tasks. Companies typically require accurate bookkeeping data on time to aid business decision-making.

8. Data entry

Data entry refers to the ability to type numbers into forms and accounting software quickly and accurately. Data entry skills assist bookkeepers in entering data into company records, either physical or digital. This requires excellent computer literacy and the ability to adapt to new technologies quickly. Those who can type quickly may also be able to enter data more efficiently and at a better pace.

Related: A Complete Guide On Data Entry Jobs

9. Knowledge of spreadsheet software

Bookkeepers usually use spreadsheets to record financial data. Knowing how to use spreadsheet software can be helpful for them. Spreadsheet software enables bookkeepers to create separate sections for different data types and separate files for different components, like employee salaries and accounts payable. You can also program equations into spreadsheets to automatically calculate values and aid in interpreting the volume of a company's transactions.

10. Transparency

Because bookkeepers frequently deal with sensitive information, it is critical that they be truthful and transparent in their dealings. While working with businesses, they are liable to adhere to policies in place to protect sensitive data. Managers and other professionals may approach bookkeepers with questions about financial records and they may use their discretion to adhere to established privacy expectations.

11. General ledger maintenance

A general ledger aids bookkeepers in recording and tracking a business's sales and expenses. An important skill for them is the ability to construct and manage a general ledger. Software, computerised spreadsheets and paper can all be used to create ledgers, and sub-ledgers. Bookkeepers use these to access and update information that a company records throughout its operational history.

12. Discipline

It is critical to be disciplined in this role, because employers may rely on bookkeepers to assist with financial record-keeping. While preparing financial records, discipline allows you to maintain a strong work ethic and consistently provide accurate information. It also aids in maintaining concentration when working on projects with many intricate details.

13. Memory

Having good memory helps bookkeepers recall information they may have processed in the past. In this role, you may excel at keeping track of financial information, answering client questions and identifying errors in files if you have a good memory. Exceptional memory becomes instrumental for solving bookkeeping problems that require you to recall an exact figure.

Improving Bookkeeper Skills

You can train to be a bookkeeper through self-study or by pursuing an internship after high school to learn in a structured professional environment. Skills like invoicing, general ledger maintenance, data entry and knowledge of spreadsheet software are technical skills that pertain to this role. You can learn how to use tools and software and gain an understanding of basic bookkeeping principles during a formal training period.

Those planning to work for a larger company may benefit from earning an associate degree in accounting, which covers topics relating to finance. You can also improve upon your soft skills like communication and discipline as you practice duties routinely. Opportunities like internships and apprenticeships allow you to develop professional experience and advance skills such as time-management, organisation and attention to detail.

Related: How To Highlight Bookkeeper Resume Skills (With Examples)

Using Bookkeeping Skills In The Workplace

Bookkeepers may use a combination of competencies to fulfil the requirements of their role and address their routine responsibilities. They require meticulous attention to detail and excellent numeracy and memory while maintaining records and documents, and for identifying discrepancies. Since they perform a wide range of duties on a routine basis, they require good time-management skills to maintain a healthy work-life balance and to meet deadlines.

Bookkeepers also use organisation skills and communication skills to work with other professionals in a company. Bookkeepers may use their skills to enable other professionals like accountants and auditors to perform their duties more effectively. Technical competencies like invoicing, ledger maintenance, software knowledge and data entry are crucial for performing most primary duties related to bookkeeping.

Related: What Is An Objective For A Bookkeeper Resume? (With Samples)

Highlighting Bookkeeping Skills

These are some ways you can highlight these skills on a resume, in a cover letter and during a job interview:

Skills on a resume

There are a few places on a typical resume where you can highlight your bookkeeping skills. The resume objective, where you can describe your experience in finance and record-keeping, is one place to highlight your abilities. You can also make a list of five to ten relevant bookkeeping qualifications and present them as bullet points. Examine important keywords in a job description while deciding which skills to include on a resume. For example, if a potential employer is looking for a professional who knows how to use debit and credit systems, add those phrases to your skill list.

Related: Bookkeeper Job Description (With Duties, Skills And Example)

Skills in a cover letter

A cover letter provides an opportunity to elaborate on the bookkeeping skills you mention in your resume. You can use this letter to illustrate how you use skills like organisation, attention to detail and time management in a workplace. You can also explain how you plan to apply your skills in future bookkeeping jobs and enhance on what you learned in previous job roles.

Skills in an interview

Review some of the qualities the employer is looking for in a bookkeeper prior to a job interview. To prepare for questions, try practicing mental mathematics and reflect upon common bookkeeping problems. Showing up on time, dressing professionally and using your verbal communication skills to model your ideal workplace behaviour can all help you stand out during an interview.

Related: How To Ace Your Next Interview (Tips And Sample Answers)

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