A bookkeeper or accounts assistant will carry out various administrative duties and calculations to make sure a company’s accounts (commonly referred to as the books) are up-to-date with all correct information for payments and transactions.
In the past this work would have been carried out with reels upon reels of paper (quite literally with huge account books), but the beauty of the modern age means that a lot of a bookkeeper’s work can now be supported by a number of specialist accounting software packages. The trick is to know how to use them properly! But the mathematical skills and knowledge of traditional bookkeeping and aspects such as GAAP are still essential.
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Bookkeepers have to be highly organised and good with figures. Other duties they carry out could also include regular bank reconciliations (chasing up any discrepancies between the company accounts and bank statements by checking the most recent transactions to see if something is not yet up-to-date, or missing) and payroll support; particularly if the role is with an in-house department.
Bookkeepers are often qualified accountants with an AAT/CAT or ACCA qualification (many school leaver or graduate accountancy programmes involve study for one of these professional qualifications), and could head out to meet clients face-to-face to discuss their accounts, so strong communication skills are also a must. Some work for accountancy institutions or specialist or professional services firms; others may take on bookkeeping in a freelance capacity.
Salaries range from £16,000 - £30,000 depending on experience, with some senior roles, particularly those based in London, bringing in salaries of around £45,000. A background in bookkeeping could also lead into financial manager positions.