Just look at some accountancy recruitment sites to see what bookkeepers are earning in London – it’s quite a range!
Some are on £17K while others are on £35K.
The reason I looked was to check we were paying our own bookkeeper the right amount – a good way for job seekers to check if they’re aiming at the right level.
The thing is, you get what you pay for and we needed someone who was a certified Accounting Technician to handle all the financial transactions in the office.
It was essential that our bookkeeper had completed lots of book keeping courses and had experience but was still able to be moulded to our way of approaching finance.
Then Work On Projecting Your Personality.
In addition to having completed all the requisite bookkeeping courses, we also needed to make sure the person we chose had the right mentality to fit in as we’re a relatively small firm with just 16 employees.
We interviewed quite a number of candidates for the role and some of them had really good technical skills, so it was the personality factors that really made the difference.
After all, if you’re hiring someone to do your bookkeeping, you would expect them to be able to use Sage Line 50 and perform double entry bookkeeping as a given. One of the important personality traits you can’t bargain for but you have to get is honesty, as your bookkeeper will have access to all the organisation’s money.
So it’s important that a candidate’s references check out well.
A Quick Route In Career Development Terms.
From a career development perspective, it can be quite a quick route to get on the bookkeeping ladder although you will probably start off at the lower end of the pay scale.
You just need to spend a few months studying bookkeeping courses to ensure you understand the vocabulary and the processes necessary to carry out the job.
This is probably best done manually, using a pencil and a calculator so you get right under the skin of the subject before you move on to computerised bookkeeping using Quickbooks or Sage Line 50.
It’s all surprisingly logical and it’s quite interesting how the various elements come together in a sort of jigsaw-like way.
Now Get Some Experience.
Having completed your studies, it’s best to get some experience as an accounts clerk or purchase ledger clerk or something at that level.
The key is not to get too set or stuck in one of the more junior roles for too long before moving on to the next level. It would be realistic for someone starting out to have the skill to be able to carry out most bookkeeping functions within about 2 years of starting work but again, whether you get the job you wanted will come down to how you present yourself at interview.
You certainly need to come across as confident, competent and likeable. There is no reason to fulfil the stereotype of people working in an accounts department as lacking personality!
A Different Route To Qualify Quickly.
If you’re keen to take bookkeeping courses as a first step to a career in this field and you want to qualify quickly, it pays to take a different approach from other people.
For most, the road to book-keeping success involves years of slogging away at night school or college, a couple of times a week until they have achieved a certificate or diploma.
For others, home study tuition, through either online learning or correspondence courses is an option but regrettably these distance training programmes have a high level of drop-outs as it can be hard to motivate yourself to keep studying.
There’s another method called “self-paced study” which is where a student attends a training centre on a drop-in basis and learns with the help of an on-site tutor.
The benefit of self-paced education systems is that the more time you put in, the faster you can graduate and get that first job.
Pitman Training in London (Notting Hill or High Holborn) is a good example.
It just makes sense if you’re career minded and in a hurry to get on.
Further Qualifications To Enhance Your CV.
After completing your Pitman Training diploma or certificate, you may wish to go on to get some qualifications from bodies such as the ICB or IAB, as an enhancement to your CV.
Ultimately the message is that if you want to spend a few months studying and then get some experience, as long as you project yourself well at interviews, you could probably be earning £35K within 2 years.
Why not give it your best shot?
About The Author.
Keith Wymer is Managing Director of Holborn Training Ltd (www.holborntraining.co.uk).
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