How To Become A Bookkeeper In Australia: A Complete Guide

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Students want to know how to become certified bookkeepers in Australia.


Are you passionate about numbers and spreadsheets? Then, consider becoming a bookkeeper.


Bookkeepers use accounting software, databases, and spreadsheets to create, update and maintain the financial transactions of a business or company. They also monitor purchasing, payroll, and invoicing functions in a business.


To become a certified bookkeeper in Australia, you must complete a Certificate IV Accounting and Bookkeeping and register as a BAS agent with the Australian Tax Practitioners Board to legally work as a bookkeeper.


This blog will teach you about the role, the required skills and qualifications, courses, salary, and the steps to becoming a bookkeeper in Australia.



1. What Is Bookkeeping?


Bookkeeping is a process of recording and organising the financial transactions of a business. It is the primary method to figure out the profitability of a business. It also helps identify economic challenges at the initial stages and prevent them from becoming a crisis.


Bookkeeping makes it easier for a business to track its spending and receivables to identify areas to grow profit.



2. Who Is A Bookkeeper?


Bookkeepers provide essential services to a business, including processing and accurately recording financial transactions and producing financial statements.


They track incoming and outgoing money, timely payment of wages and bills, and keep updated financial records in a company.


They maintain and evaluate balance sheets, payroll documents, ledgers, invoices, receipts, and other critical financial documentation.


Registered BAS Agents can also prepare and lodge Business Activity Statements for taxation purposes.



3. Types Of Bookkeeping And Bookkeeping Methods


Bookkeepers generally use single-entry bookkeeping or double-entry bookkeeping. In the former case, you only record one entry for each financial transaction.


This is ideal for those who work out of their home, don't often deal with cash transactions, and don't have any inventory or equipment.


In the latter case, the double-entry accounting system is for any financial transaction when you make an equal and opposite entry in another account. This type of bookkeeping ensures that the account books always remain balanced.


The double-entry accounting system is a commonly used and popular bookkeeping technique. Accounting software lets you perform double-entry bookkeeping in a smooth and hassle-free manner.


A bookkeeper can use various bookkeeping methods to manage a business. Each of these has its pros and cons. Depending on the type of work and requirements, you can choose from any of the following methods:


  • Manual bookkeeping 

  • Accounting software

  • Web-based bookkeeping

  • Spreadsheet accounting

  • Point-of-sale (POS) systems



4. What Does A Bookkeeper Do?


The daily activities of a bookkeeper vary based on their nature of employment, i.e., working for a business or self-employed. The scope of a bookkeeper's role depends on the business size (small or medium-sized) and the type of industry in which they work. 


The typical day-to-day duties of a bookkeeper are as follows:


  • Monitor the financial health of their client and ensure that all financial transactions comply with existing regulations.

  • Record and classify financial transactions in bookkeeping software, databases, and spreadsheets

  • Prepare and monitor financial transaction records. 

  • Communicate changes in salaries and benefits to the employee 

  • Work with business owners or managers to make intelligent decisions when evaluating the company's total revenue, financial position, profits, and losses. 

  • Manage accounts payable and receivable 

  • Track, compute, record, and balance a company's financial reports using computerised and manual accounting systems.

  • Prepare and send receipts and invoices to debtors.

  • Report irregularities in financial records to data management

  • Compute and disburse employee superannuation and payroll 

  • Monitor cash flow and lines of credit

  • Prepare and analyse financial statements, income statements, balance sheets, budget reports, and other financial documents.

  • Create monthly, half-yearly, or annual expense reports for expenses incurred on the internet, credit card, electricity, office supplies, phone, and business operations

  • Prepare invoices, bills, bank deposits, and purchase orders.

  • Settle bank accounts with monthly bank statements

  • Create reports based on retirement and payroll data

  • Use Quickbooks to modify employee payroll records. 

  • Deal with voluntary and involuntary deductions

  • Purchase and lodge Business Activity Statements



5. Bookkeeping Skills For Success


To become a successful bookkeeper, you need to have the following essential skills:


  • Methodical 

  • Detail-oriented

  • Problem-solving skills

  • Analytical mindset

  • Multitasking ability 

  • Numerical accuracy 

  • Patience

  • Organisational skills

  • Strong communication skills 

  • Proficiency in MS Excel and QuickBooks

  • The primary use of spreadsheet programs, ATO portals, accounting software, and databases. 

  • Willingness to learn new bookkeeping technologies



6. Bookkeeper Qualifications In Australia


  • Complete a Certificate IV level qualification, such as Certificate IV in Accounting and Bookkeeping or Diploma in Accounting. It will qualify you for an entry-level position in bookkeeping.

  • To become a registered BAS Agent, you must study the relevant GST and BAS units as part of the Certificate IV qualification.

  • Obtain work experience in the supervision of a registered BAS agent.

  • Apply to the Australian Tax Practitioners Board to register as a BAS Agent. You can provide fee-based bookkeeping/BAS services in Australia by getting registered.



7. Steps To Become A Certified Bookkeeper In Australia


If you are interested in this job profile, here are the steps to help you pursue this role.



Step 1: Complete a Bachelor's Degree


You can also complete a three years Bachelor's Degree in Commerce or a Bachelor's Degree in Commerce Accounting or similar. 


Completing the degree makes you eligible to become a contract bookkeeper or work for an employer as a bookkeeper.



Step 2: Get Certified


Suppose you want to avoid committing to a 3-year degree. You can also consider a 6-month full-time certificate IV or higher in accounting or bookkeeping. 


It is a practical step to getting started and advancing your career as a bookkeeper. The course teaches students about report preparation, using accounting systems and software, and maintaining financial records.


Certificate IV in Accounting and Bookkeeping is ideal for contract bookkeepers, BAS agents, and in-house bookkeepers within the organisation. Several accredited training institutes offer this course online or in a classroom setting. It increases your employment chances and helps you register as a BAS agent.


To register for an agent license, you should complete BAS and Goods and Services Tax units within the certificate course.



Step 3: Learn The Technology Side


Certified bookkeepers need great attention to detail while working with spreadsheets and databases. Accounting Software enhances efficiency, computation speed, and reporting capabilities.


Start by identifying the ones commonly used by small businesses and clients you want to work with. Some recommended options are Xero, MYOB, Reckon, Sage, and QuickBooks. You can find excellent learning tutorials online to get extensive hands-on practice in working with the software.



Step 4: Gain Work Experience


A Certificate IV qualification is sufficient to become a professional bookkeeper. However, to legally prepare and lodge Business Activity Statements, you must complete 1400 hours of related work experience under the supervision of a registered BAS Agent.


Volunteering, internships, or working in a firm as an entry-level bookkeeper are common ways to gain the necessary work experience.



Step 5: Become A Member Of A Certifying Body


Australian Bookkeepers Association is a reputed professional bookkeeping association for Business Activity Statements Agents (BAS agents) by the Tax Practitioners Board.


The association comprises only Australian members. It is software-neutral and governed by bookkeepers in Australia. Busy bookkeeping professionals who work as sole operators or in organisations should consider becoming a member of the association.


The membership benefits you in ways of expert knowledge and advice, bookkeeping tools, and networking opportunities.



Step 6: Register as a BAS Agent


BAS agents are bookkeepers qualified to create and file business activity statements for their clients. Becoming a registered BAS agent enhances your employment opportunities.


It gives you an edge over unregistered candidates and shows your competency to take diverse roles across several industries. You must apply to the Tax Practitioners Board to become a registered BAS Agent. Once registered, you can work independently or as part of a firm.



Step 7: Get Your Insurance


Having qualified and registered as a BAS Agent, you must adhere to a code of professional conduct. One of the requirements is to maintain Professional Indemnity Insurance.


It protects bookkeepers from losses incurred due to the carelessness or mistakes of their clients.



8. How To Set Up Your Bookkeeping Business?


Working as a freelance bookkeeper gives you the flexibility to work from anywhere worldwide and the liberty to create your work schedule. To get to the stage where you can start your own business, you would need to do the following:


  • Get certified and gain expertise in using accountancy software. Several TAFE training institutes offer flexible part-time, accelerated, and online learning options to study based on your convenience.

  • Ensure that you comply with the bookkeeping laws and regulations and Invest in Professional Indemnity Insurance.

  • You also require relevant work experience, the right accounting software, a good internet connection, a working laptop, and an endorsement from business owners. 

  • Investing in digital marketing will help you develop and expand your customer base. 

  • Join bookkeeping communities to expand your professional network and stay regularly updated on the latest bookkeeping tools and trends. Some of the national bookkeeping resources that you can offer are:


  1. Australian Taxation Office

  2. Australian Bookkeepers Network

  3. Australian Payroll Association

  4. Finance Sector Union (National Office)

  5. Institute of Public Accountants

  6. Tax Practitioners Board

  7. Institute of Certified Bookkeepers



9. How To Become A Bookkeeper With No Experience?


Many budding bookkeepers are curious whether they can become a bookkeeper without experience. The answer is Yes. Work experience is optional to become a bookkeeper. However, it can boost your chances for the role. 


Here are the steps to guide you on becoming a bookkeeper from home without experience:


  1. Complete the Certificate IV in Accounting and Bookkeeping course

  2. Understand requirements, constraints, or guidelines as specified by your local government to set up a bookkeeping business 

  3. Gather references and commendations from past employers or clients to demonstrate your capabilities and skills. It is an excellent way to convince your clients to hire you.

  4. Research ways to connect with clients. Social media and online job portals are excellent options to explore.

  5. Use a cloud-based bookkeeping software or hosted virtual desktop to access the accounting books of your clients remotely.

  6. Invest in the right bookkeeping tool and a fast internet connection to track financial transactions and prepare financial reports quickly and easily 

  7. Invest in a sound security system to safeguard the sensitive information of clients. It will also help develop trust with potential clients.

  8. Get the right video conferencing application to connect with clients to understand their requirements or discuss any discrepancies related to their financial transactions.

  9. Build your website or blog to showcase your work portfolio, market your talent, and get more clients. Incorporate digital marketing strategies to widen your customer base.

  10. Keep yourself informed of the latest developments and trends in bookkeeping. Joining communities, becoming a member of professional associations, and reading online publications can help.



10. Relevant Bookkeeping Courses In Australia


Good accounting is an essential prerequisite for successful operations in any business. The Bookkeeping Institute of Australia is an accredited supplier of Queensland Government-sponsored traineeships and training programs in Australia.


The institute offers three online bookkeeping courses to help budding bookkeepers to study anywhere and anytime. These courses are ideal for those seeking entry-level bookkeeping positions or a career in accounts administration within an organisation.



Certificate III in Accounts Administration


A certificate III course will help you develop accounting skills and teach you how to use popular accounting software such as MYOB, Xero, and more.


It will prepare you for a diverse range of careers in bookkeeping, such as bookkeeping, accounts payable and receivable, payroll officer, accounts clerk, or cashier.



Certificate IV in Accounting and Bookkeeping


The certification IV course is the minimum requirement to become a certified bookkeeper/registered BAS agent. The course equips you with real-world accounting skills and knowledge to start working as a bookkeeper.


The important topics covered in the course are:


  • Set up and maintain payroll systems

  • Manage ledgers and accounts

  • Complete instalment and BAS activity statements

  • Prepare financial reports

  • Process monetary transactions



Diploma of Accounting


It is an ideal learning route for those who have a business and want to hone their bookkeeping skills.


This bookkeeping course gives an in-depth understanding of budget management, business activity preparation, and payroll system establishment to help run the business more efficiently.


You can also study this course in the following Australian schools/institutes:


  • Swinburne Education

  • Institute of Public Accountants

  • Business Institute of Australia

  • Australian College of Education



11. Work Environment For A Bookkeeper


Bookkeepers generally work on a full-time or part-time schedule. They are either employed in an organisation, run their own business, or work for clients from various industries. Bookkeepers have the flexibility to work from home or in a remote location.


Only 33% of bookkeepers work full-time. This makes it a suitable option for those looking for a part-time profession. When working full-time, they usually work for around 42 hours per week.


The average age of employed workers in this field is 48 years which is high compared to the industry's average of 40 years.


Around 60% of workers are 45 years or above. A whopping 91% of females constitute the overall bookkeeping workforce. This shows that this profession is among the best careers for aspiring female bookkeeping candidates.



12. Where Do Bookkeepers Work In Australia?


Bookkeepers maintain and examine financial transaction records in account ledgers and digital accounting systems. They are in demand in industries related to Construction, Education and Training, and Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services.


After gaining adequate experience, many bookkeepers consider specialisation as Financial Administration Officers.


Certified bookkeepers in Australia can work in the following roles in a company:


  • Inventory Clerks 

  • Accounts Clerks 

  • Accounts Receivable Clerks 

  • Accounts Payable Clerks

  • Payroll Clerks 

  • Debtors Clerk

  • Accounting Operatives

  • Accounts Officer

  • Accounts Administrator

  • Accounts Payable Officer

  • Accounts Receivable Officer

  • Bookkeeper

  • Payroll Officer



13. Job Prospects Of A Bookkeeper in Australia


Bookkeeping is a tremendous occupation in Australia. Bookkeepers find work opportunities in several regions of Australia.


According to Job Outlook, the number of workers has increased significantly over the past five years. It will likely grow at the same pace in the coming five years.


As per the estimations, the number of bookkeeping professionals will increase from 100,200 in 2020 to 101,200 by 2025.



14. How Much Does A Bookkeeper Earn In Australia?


The bookkeeper's salary depends on the following:


  • Your expertise levels

  • Work schedules such as full-time, part-time, contract-based, or freelance 

  • The type of work arrangement 

  • Location


The average bookkeeper hourly rate in Australia is AU$ 29.29, equivalent to AU$ 56,310 per year and $1,234 per week.



Bookkeeper Wage In Australia Based on Experience


  • An entry-level Bookkeeper (< 1-year experience): AU$24.20 

  • An early career Bookkeeper (1 to 4 years of experience): AU$26.51 

  • A mid-career Bookkeeper (5 to 9 years of experience): AU$29.63 

  • An experienced Bookkeeper (10 to 19 years of experience): AU$30.96 



Based on Location


  • Northern Beaches, New South Wales: $71,516 per year

  • Hornsby, New South Wales: $69,693 per year

  • Melbourne, Victoria: $65,871 per year

  • Sydney, New South Wales: $65,352 per year

  • Gold Coast Queensland: $64,870 per year

  • Brisbane Queensland: $63,694 per year

  • Perth, Western Australia: $63,474 per year

  • Adelaide South Australia: $61,807 per year



15. Conclusion


Bookkeeping is a great profession that opens doors to work opportunities in businesses across Australia. 


Working as a bookkeeper, you play a vital role in managing the daily financial activities of clients or employers. Bookkeeping courses are an ideal way to support your becoming a certified bookkeeper.


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