What is Bookkeeping?

Bookkeeping is a profession that stems back centuries, with bookkeeping records dating more than 7,000 years having been found in ancient ruins. Fundamentally, bookkeeping is the day-to-day process of recording an entity's financial transactions so that a business can keep track of what they owe, what they are owed, and how business is going.

It is the role of a bookkeeper today not only to maintain accurate business records but to provide guidance to business owners on the technological solutions that maximise the efficiency of business processes and empower them with the knowledge to drive business growth.

What do bookkeepers do?

Bookkeepers are usually closely connected with the day-to-day operations of a business. They can provide useful advice and reports to help business owners understand their business’s financial health and performance. 
Bookkeeping includes managing accounts receivable and payable, payroll, financial reporting and maintaining all business records. Once a bookkeeper has become comfortable with the fundamental processes, they can become a BAS agent and accounting technician to provide the next level of business guidance.

Today's bookkeeping career is challenging, motivating and exciting as we see exponential changes in the technologies that support the process and a dynamic legislative environment to navigate.

Bookkeeping in 2022 and beyond

  • Working as a bookkeeper allows for a flexible and interesting working life: 
  • Assisting others to grow and succeed
  • Advising business owners on compliance 
  • Continual evolution of technology
  • Turning chaos into order
  • Implementing systems and processes
  • Continually growing and learning
  • Flexibility to fit around your family and lifestyle
  • Tackling something new every day – it’s never boring being a bookkeeper!
Career Paths for Bookkeepers

Bookkeepers may work as employees of a business, employees of a bookkeeping or accounting practice, or independent contractors.
There are many accounting industry roles for bookkeepers, and many further education opportunities available to keep learning and developing your career.
  • Accounts payable or receivable officer
  • Payroll clerk
  • Administrative assistant or office manager
  • Accounts clerk
  • Accounting assistant
  • Cloud app systems integrator
  • Software trainer
To provide the full suite of bookkeeping, BAS and advisory services, you will need to work under supervision before becoming a registered agent, and undertake ongoing professional education and development. 

Bookkeeping Can be Dynamic, Challenging and Stimulating

Many people entering the industry assume that they will be able to provide a full suite of services and earn top rates within a couple of years. The reality is that most people take years of full-time work to become proficient at the whole range of bookkeeping and BAS services. Even then, BAS agents are continually learning more, whether that is because they need to learn about industry specific rules for a new client, or because the legislation changes, or because a client’s needs change as their business evolves.

Bookkeeping is customised to each business and business owner. While some services and workflow processes may be standardised, you will most likely find that you need to customise your services and checklists according to the needs of each client.

The complexity of bookkeeping is one reason it’s important to be a member of a professional membership association like AAT so that you remain up to date with industry changes and best practices. It’s also a great way of connecting to colleagues, who are a great source of practical information.