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Thelibrarian
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22 Oct 2013, 9:09 am

DancingDanny wrote:
I'm really interested in picking up bookkeeping for a career too.


I would strongly recommend you take a couple of challenging courses in bookkeeping before you make such a decision. Some people like it, but it's not for everyone.



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25 Oct 2013, 6:40 pm

What's the difference in employment prospects when you compare an Associates and Bachelors in accounting?



Thelibrarian
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26 Oct 2013, 6:50 am

DancingDanny wrote:
What's the difference in employment prospects when you compare an Associates and Bachelors in accounting?


I must admit that I don't know the specifics, but if one is going to do the work of getting a four year degree in accounting, one might as well go all the way and become an accountant. Bookkeeping is a two-year degree, and will always be under the accountant; it is the difference between a pharmacist and a pharmacist's tech, or a surveyor and the civil engineer. The accountant will make many times the money too, especially as a CPA.



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29 Oct 2013, 9:41 pm

I can enroll into my local community college in a couple of weeks. I'll probably go for the two years Associates degree.

How well are you progressing, Retrogamer?



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22 Nov 2013, 6:15 pm

I'm quite interested in it too, I currently work data entry and feel it would be a nice step up for a number of reasons. They seem to always be in demand, the hours are usually part time(at least here in the UK) and the money is pretty good.



carthago
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22 Nov 2013, 11:05 pm

Bookkeeping seems to interest a lot of people. I'm not a bookkeeper, but there are bookkeepers in my family, and I will be a CPA soon, so I've been in and around it for most of my life, and maybe I can shed some light.

Bookkeeper vs. Accounting Clerk vs. Accountant vs. CPA

Bookkeepers are responsible for maintaining the books of a business. They work 30-40 hours a week. The end of the month is the busiest time, because this is when you reconcile accounts and carry out the end-of-month procedures. The end of the business year (not always December 31, but usually) can be quite busy for bookkeepers, but you'll probably never work more than 50 hours. Tax season is not really part of the bookkeeper's role, since the book-to-tax reconciliations are normally made by accountants or CPAs. Bookkeeping is repetitive, requires a lot of time in the same programs doing the same things, and typing 50wpm is fine. It's not so much of a data entry job as it is a know-when-and-how-to-make-an-entry job. The academic preparation for bookkeeping is mainly journal entries and accounting systems. Most small businesses use off-the-shelf systems, with Quickbooks being the most popular. Quickbooks is basically a pre-programmed, function-specific kind of spreadsheet, with a complicated user interface. It will take some getting used to, but probably no more than a month. Larger companies use SAP or internally developed systems, which tend to require more training. Governments are a completely different animal and I won't go there unless someone wants to know. Bookkeepers are usually wage-earners, and make about $14 per hour on the inexperienced, low-income end, to upwards of $20 per hour for the more experienced, high income end. The top bookkeeper (or only bookkeeper in some cases) at a company is a "full charge bookeeper", and this is the top job of the field. Full charge bookkeepers can make $25 per hour or more, but it starts to become an administrative job at this point, and can require more hours. A certification or associates degree course at a community college (or TAFE in the OPs case) is sufficient to become a bookkeeper. Most jobs are not advertised. You may have to ask around, or even make cold calls to find a job opening if you live in a smaller city. The essential training to be a bookkeeper would only require 3-6 months of dedicated study. The rest of an associates degree is general education and not necessarily helpful to becoming a bookkeeper.

Accounting Clerks are like bookkeepers, but they work within specific areas of a company. Usually larger companies employ accounting clerks and smaller companies employ bookkeepers. Accounting clerks are trained in their particular area, such as payroll or accounts receivable. They also become familiar with the laws and accounting for their specific area at a much deeper level than bookkeepers generally do. The hours and pay are generally about the same. Accounting clerks are usually held to higher standards of internal controls than bookkeepers. That is, there are more formal processes at work that you have to do every time, by the book. This can be a great job for an aspie, because these are the things NTs complain about. The entry requirements are about the same as a bookkeeper.

Accountants are a notch above bookkeepers and accounting clerks. Accountants work at larger companies, and often review the work of bookkeepers or accounting clerks. Accountants also make some month-end or year-end entries that require more in-depth knowledge. Accountants require at least a bachelor's degree in accounting, but can expect to earn at least $36,000 per year. Some industries are more competitive, and earn more than others. Oil and gas accountants, for example, can pull a starting salary of $80,000 per year, but usually need a few extra certificate-based courses in oil and gas accounting to get the job. Accountants don't necessarily do much group work, but recruitment emphasizes it, and this can make it a difficult field to get into for aspies. Accountants usually work at a corporate headquarters, as opposed to regional offices or mom-and-pop shops, like bookkeepers. Depending on the industry, hours for an accountant can be anywhere from 40 to 90 hours per week. The busiest time for accountants is filing season or tax season, depending on which department you're in. SAP and internally developed software are commonly used by accountants, but more emphasis is placed on Excel. When generating a cost report or variance analysis, you would typically pull the information out of a database into Excel, and manipulate it from there. Recruitment notwithstanding, the job itself is somewhat aspie-friendly, although there is more social demand on accountants than bookkeepers or accounting clerks.

CPAs work in many fields and industries, governments, or public accounting. I will not go into much detail about this unless you want to know, but suffice to say, it's a socially demanding, high stress job with long hours and mediocre starting pay (about $50,000 for public accounting, $45,000 for industry or government). The most compelling reason to become a CPA is that it's high in demand, has good career growth, great exit opportunities, and will never be automated. For CPAs, the prestige of your school has a large impact on where you can get hired.

Hope it helps. I'll go back through and answer some of the questions I saw in this thread. And to everyone looking into bookkeeping, good luck!



carthago
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23 Nov 2013, 2:22 am

Thelibrarian wrote:
good attention to detail ::snip:: is critical, since any mistakes at all can be catastrophic.


I wouldn't worry about the seriousness of bookkeeping mistakes. Anything above a certain dollar (pound or what have you) amount will be corrected by an accountant or the auditor. The biggest risk for a bookkeeper is to forget to make entries, or incorrectly classify entries on a consistent basis. And of course, keeping hands out of the cookie jar.



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23 Nov 2013, 2:31 am

RetroGamer87 wrote:
A couple of questions. Do I still need to have a full bachelor of commerce to do bookkeeping? In either bookkeeping or accounting should I be concerned about my typing speed? I can only type at 50 wpm (on a good day) and I hear they want 80 wpm.


1. No. A certificate program or associates degree will be enough.
2. Typing speed is not a major concern in accounting or bookkeeping. Strong Excel skills and knowledge of journal entries are far more important. You'll only be grilled over this in an interview if your interviewer doesn't know the job--hopefully this will not be the case.



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23 Nov 2013, 2:43 am

zer0netgain wrote:
The biggest "nightmare" I think you might run into is work load.

Tax season can be unreal for accountants with so many people needing stuff done by a deadline and dropping stuff off at the last minute. If you can't fine the completed taxes on time, you need to be sure those that won't be ready have an application for extension filed by the deadline.

This doesn't have to be bad if you work in a firm that is well-organized and will consider your "special needs" as far as workload and stress management. In the wrong firm, you could be a basket case from the pressure to produce a product by a given deadline.


The work load for a bookkeeper is fairly consistent, with peak times at the end of the month. Tax season isn't a strain on bookkeepers so much as it is on tax accountants, most of whom are CPAs. When tax season approaches, accountants aggregate the bookkeeper's work, create a trial balance, make notes on significant events through the year, and provide these to the tax accountants (most companies hire a CPA firm to do their taxes). The tax accountant then asks questions about events during the year, terms of contracts, and so forth. Then the tax accountants process the information, work 90+ hours a week, and that's the wonderful world of tax accounting you're referring to. The bookkeepers during this time are collecting and entering the information as usual.



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23 Nov 2013, 2:52 am

RetroGamer87 wrote:
So it's a two year course in America? I found one in Australia but it's only one semester. That doesn't sound like it would be long enough to be the equivalent of a two year course. It doesn't sound like it would be enough for an actual job. It's this one.
http://www.tafesa.edu.au/xml/course/aw/aw_TP00321.aspx

I also looked at which bookkeeping jobs were available in my city. There were about 13 but they all required experience. Is there any way to gain the necessary experience?


The Certificate III course in your link will be sufficient background to get a bookkeeping job.

There are more than 13 bookkeeping jobs for grabs in Adelaide. If you can't find them on any job search engines (try as many as you can), then you can go through a temp agency like Robert Half or a placement service. If all else fails, start cold calling.



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23 Nov 2013, 2:57 am

DancingDanny wrote:
What's the difference in employment prospects when you compare an Associates and Bachelors in accounting?


You stand a better chance at getting a job with a bachelors degree, but at that point your expectations typically change and you would not be looking for bookkeeping jobs any longer. Ultimately, even with the degree, it takes more perseverance and social skills to get an accounting job than an associates degree holder would need to land a bookkeeping job. There is also a drawback if you still want to do bookkeeping with a bachelors degree--you're overqualified, and you'd have to actually find reasons to explain and excuse your degree. As always, it's up to you to decide what's right for you.



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23 Nov 2013, 3:12 am

Thelibrarian wrote:
The accountant will make many times the money too, especially as a CPA.


An entry level bookkeeper will make on average $16 per hour (more in an expensive city like New York or San Francisco) and work 35 hours per week. That comes out to about $28,000 per year, allowing for 2 weeks of vacation, which includes holidays.

An experienced bookkeeper will make on average $20 per hour and work 38 hours per week. $38,000 per year, same holiday allowance as above.

An entry level accountant will make $42,000 per year and work at least 40 hours per week, with 2 weeks of vacation in addition to holidays. This is $21 per hour or less.

An experienced accountant will make $60,000 per year and work 38 hours per week, with 3 weeks of vacation in addition to holidays. This is about $33 per hour.

An entry level CPA will make $50,000 per year and work at least 60 hours per week, with 4 weeks of vacation in addition to holidays. This is $18 per hour or less.

An experienced CPA will make $90,000 per year and work about 45 hours per week, with 4 weeks of vacation in addition to holidays. This is about $43 per hour.

An accounting firm partner will make about $600,000 per year and work 40 hours per week, with 6 weeks of vacation in addition to holidays. This is about $330 per hour.

As you move down the list, non-monetary compensation and other job perks generally increase.



Thelibrarian
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23 Nov 2013, 6:29 am

carthago wrote:
Thelibrarian wrote:
good attention to detail ::snip:: is critical, since any mistakes at all can be catastrophic.


I wouldn't worry about the seriousness of bookkeeping mistakes. Anything above a certain dollar (pound or what have you) amount will be corrected by an accountant or the auditor. The biggest risk for a bookkeeper is to forget to make entries, or incorrectly classify entries on a consistent basis. And of course, keeping hands out of the cookie jar.


Yes, but many of us hire bookkeepers to avoid the much higher expense of accountants. When I have to start bringing in accountants because the bookkeeper can't do the job right, that bookkeeper won't be employed long.



DancingDanny
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23 Nov 2013, 10:59 am

carthago wrote:
DancingDanny wrote:
What's the difference in employment prospects when you compare an Associates and Bachelors in accounting?


You stand a better chance at getting a job with a bachelors degree, but at that point your expectations typically change and you would not be looking for bookkeeping jobs any longer. Ultimately, even with the degree, it takes more perseverance and social skills to get an accounting job than an associates degree holder would need to land a bookkeeping job. There is also a drawback if you still want to do bookkeeping with a bachelors degree--you're overqualified, and you'd have to actually find reasons to explain and excuse your degree. As always, it's up to you to decide what's right for you.


Thanks for the detailed break down. I think an Associates degree and a bookkeeeper/clerk job are right for me.