It’s never been easier to find a great-paying online job — even when you don’t have prior experience in a particular field. And many people are surprised to learn that online bookkeeping, which is among the most lucrative remote work options, falls into that category.
You don’t need a college degree or any type of certification to work as an online bookkeeper (although having one or both can help you earn higher rates).
In this article, we’ll explain why companies and entrepreneurs hire online bookkeepers, what you need to know to get started, and where to find jobs.
Remote Bookkeeping Basics
Remote bookkeepers — sometimes also referred to as “virtual bookkeepers” — work from home and use accounting software to handle the financial record keeping for businesses. Remote bookkeepers can work full-time, part-time or on a freelance basis.
Here are some key things to know about remote bookkeeping jobs.
- No certification or license is required. Bookkeeping certifications exist — and they can help you expand your business down the road — but you can get started and earn a good income without them. You can always pursue certification once you have a stable income.
- You don’t need an accounting, economics or finance degree. These degrees can set you apart and help you win more clients, but they aren’t necessary — you can launch a bookkeeping career without experience or formal education in the subject.
- With no experience, you’ll earn around $12 to $15 per hour to start. However, in a few years’ time, it’s very doable to make over $30 per hour. Specialists can command over $60 an hour.
- There are tons of remote, freelance and part-time virtual bookkeeping opportunities available. You can find opportunities for all three on job boards such as FlexJobs and networking sites like LinkedIn. Freelance marketplaces like Upwork have dozens of businesses actively searching for freelance bookkeepers.
- This job is highly-scalable. Most bookkeepers start solo, handling client work themselves. Over time, you can grow your client roster enough to warrant starting a bookkeeping agency and hiring others to do the job. In doing so, you can serve more (and larger) clients and generate higher revenues in less time.
These are some of the everyday tasks you’ll be responsible for as a bookkeeper.
- Financial record keeping. Creating and posting journal entries in bookkeeping software like QuickBooks to represent financial transactions the business has made and ensure financial reporting is accurate.
- Accounts receivable/payable management. Processing payments to vendors/suppliers and invoicing customers/clients.
- Reconciling accounts. Checking the records of two different accounts to correct errors and explain discrepancies. For example, reconciling why a bank statement differs from the business’s books.
- Financial statement creation. Generating the financial reports that management, investors, lenders and regulators use to make decisions.
- Payroll. Processing payroll to pay employees accurately and on time, as well as ensuring compliance with payroll taxes.
The Skills You Need
Here are some skills you need to succeed as a bookkeeper.
- Proficiency in at least one bookkeeping program, like Intuit’s QuickBooks or Xero.
- Sharp basic math skills. You won’t be doing advanced calculus, but you need to be confident with numbers and able to recognize when something seems off.
- Problem-solving. If something doesn’t seem right, it’s your job to hunt down the source of the error and determine how to deal with it.
- Good communication and customer service. Bookkeepers have to interact with vendors/suppliers and customers/clients — often when dealing with invoices and payments.
- Organization. You’ll have to juggle several deadlines: taxes, the fiscal year-end, monthly/quarterly financial statements, etc.
- Business skills. If you freelance as a bookkeeper, you’ll need to know how to market yourself to prospective clients, how to price your services, how to speak with clients and how to perform bookkeeping for your own business.
Pro Tip: You can learn more about the skills necessary for bookkeeping success by taking Ben Robinson’s free, three-part class, “How to Own a Virtual Bookkeeping Service, Earn Good Money and Be Your Own Boss.”
Why Businesses Hire Remote Bookkeepers
You might be wondering why a business would hire a remote bookkeeper with no experience.
The thing is, every company needs a bookkeeper at some point — but not every company needs a full-time bookkeeper.
That’s especially true for small businesses like freelancers and mom-and-pops. Many of these businesses have realized it makes more sense to hire someone online on a part-time basis, rather than opting for a more traditional firm with higher overhead costs that get passed on in the form of higher rates.
In other words, it’s a win-win scenario: remote bookkeepers often make more money than they would by working for a traditional firm or agency, while still offering their services for a lower rate than clients would find elsewhere.
Plus, not every business has the same needs. Traditional bookkeeping firms can be rigid and inflexible, whereas online bookkeepers are more accustomed to customizing their services and approach based on an individual client’s needs — including learning company-specific techniques and practices.
Bookkeeping vs. Accounting
Bookkeeping and accounting aren’t interchangeable, although people often use the terms that way.
As mentioned earlier in the article, you can start working as a bookkeeper without a formal education or experience. Bookkeepers deal with straightforward, day-to-day financial tasks, like processing transactions and reconciling bank statements.
On the other hand, accounting roles require a bachelor’s degree at minimum. Additionally, certifications such as Certified Public Accountant or Certified Management Accountant are necessary to advance in the field.
Their educational requirements are reflected in their higher-level responsibilities. Accountants analyze and interpret the financial information that a bookkeeper provides — such as the financial statements — to help the company make decisions.
If you do have accounting experience, you’ll be able to leverage that to command better rates.
Types of Remote Bookkeeper Jobs
Online bookkeeping opportunities can be broken down into two main categories:
- Part-time jobs
- Freelance work
Each has its pros and cons.
Part-Time Online Bookkeeping Jobs
In a part-time online bookkeeping job, you work for one company as a W2 employee, earning a fixed hourly rate with a steady stream of work.
Online bookkeeping agencies offer many of these positions. However, you can also work as an in-house remote bookkeeper at a non-bookkeeping business.
For example, you might work remotely as a bookkeeper for an e-commerce retailer.
Where to find part-time bookkeeping jobs: We list some of the companies that hire for this role in our guide to part-time online jobs. You should also check out Flexjobs, which has the largest and most up-to-date collection of remote job postings on the web. You can learn more about how the site works in our Flexjobs review.
Freelance Bookkeeping Jobs
Freelance bookkeeping jobs offer more freedom as you can set your own schedule, but you will have to find your own clients.
Doing so can be worth the time and effort. As a freelancer, you can choose to specialize in certain services or industries, establishing yourself as skilled and experienced within one or more niches. This can lead to significantly higher earnings and better long-term scalability.
Upwork, which is the largest marketplace for freelance services, is an excellent place to start your search for freelance bookkeeping jobs.
Where to find freelance bookkeeping jobs: There are a number of legit freelance work websites worth checking into, including Upwork, Fiverr and People Per Hour. Of these, Upwork is by far the most popular — and in our opinion, the best. There’s a lot of competition on the site, so we wrote a detailed guide that explains how to get started and win your first Upwork contract.
Resources For Getting Started
Best Overall Course: Bookkeeper Launch.
It’s possible to learn what it takes to launch a successful bookkeeping business through free resources, but to save time, your best bet is to invest a little bit of money in a comprehensive course.
Bookkeeper Launch — an online course created by CPA and former accounting firm owner Ben Robinson — is one of your best bets. Robinson teaches you core bookkeeping skills, systems for optimizing your business’s efficiency, and strategies for attracting high-quality (and lucrative) clients.
Best Free Quickbooks Tutorial: QuickBooks Tutorials.
Quickbooks offers extensive free tutorials on all versions of its software. You can browse through its massive library of articles and guides, or register for a one-hour webinar with a QuickBooks expert. Additionally, the community forum provides a place for you to ask questions of experts and other users.
Best Free Excel Tutorial: Fundera.
Some clients will want a bookkeeping system but won’t want to pay for software. Fortunately, Fundera has a thorough, step-by-step guide to creating a basic bookkeeping system in Excel. The guide covers Google Sheets as well.
Online Bookkeeping Jobs FAQ
Here are answers to a few of the most commonly asked questions about remote bookkeeping.
Pay rates vary widely depending on the type of bookkeeping work. An entry-level part-time bookkeeper who is classified as a W2 employee will earn on the lower end of the scale — as little as $10 per hour, and up to $20 per hour, according to a review of reported wages on Glassdoor, Zip Recruiter and the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Freelancers who work directly with business owners can earn significantly more — perhaps as much as $60 per hour for an experienced bookkeeper in some cases, according to Bookkeeper Launch founder Ben Robinson.
There are free resources all over the internet that can teach you everything you need to know. However, investing in a course will help you launch your business the right way, start earning faster, and avoid costly mistakes.
Bookkeepers don’t need certifications. But if you enjoy the work and plan on growing your business, having one or more on your resume can help you land more clients and charge better rates.
The American Institute of Certified Bookkeepers’ Certified Bookkeeper designation is your best choice if you have no formal bookkeeping education. You can also go for the National Association of Public Bookkeepers’ Certified Public Bookkeeper credential, but you need to complete 4,000 hours of bookkeeping work first if you don’t pursue its education requirements.
Additionally, you can earn certifications in bookkeeping software programs, such as:
— Quickbooks ProAdvisor
— Xero Advisor
— Zoho Books Advisor
Pro Tip: Clients often look to hire someone who is an expert in a certain line of software. Often, these clients need a specialist to “clean up the books” and, therefore, expertise in a certain line of software can be more important than general bookkeeping skills.
Summary: Online Bookkeeper Jobs Offer a Stable Opportunity to Earn An Above-Average Salary From Home
Remote bookkeeping provides you the opportunity to launch a brand new career from home with no relevant experience. Businesses will always need bookkeepers, yet there are never enough people who are proficient in the job.
If you’re good with software, have a knack for organization, and enjoy numbers and problem-solving, bookkeeping could be an excellent remote job for you.
With hard work — and maybe an investment in a good course or two, like Ben Robinson’s Bookkeeper launch and a QuickBooks Online primer — you can boost your income and turn this gig into a full-blown business.