What is bookkeeping?

Person drawing graph and using calculator

The dictionary definition of bookkeeping is “the activity or occupation of keeping records of the financial affairs of a business,” but we know there’s much more to it than that.

We also know that bookkeeping is a great career path and can lead to working in all sorts of industries.

What does a bookkeeper do?

Good bookkeeping is essential business maintenance. In short, a bookkeeper keeps track of the money coming in and going out of a business. Bookkeepers maintain accurate financial records and help businesses:

  • Prepare for year-end tax and VAT returns
  • Keep on top of their day-to-day cash flow
  • Run their finances as efficiently as possible

Tasks and transactions could include:

  • Expense payments to suppliers
  • Loan payments
  • Customer payments for invoices
  • Generating financial reports
  • Payroll accounting

In the past, bookkeepers kept paper records of business transactions, usually in large, complicated ledgers. Today, a bookkeeper’s tasks are diverse and highly sophisticated – requiring skilled knowledge, and good computer skills!

What is the difference between a bookkeeper and an accountant?

Although they work in the same field, their jobs and responsibilities vary.

Bookkeeping is the first part of the financial process. So a bookkeeper would record the finances, and then an accountant would analyse the figures and report them.

The main responsibility for a bookkeeper is to record a business’ financial transactions.

Accounting goes a step further and is responsible for interpreting, classifying, analysing, reporting and summarising financial data.

Why become a bookkeeper?

There are so many reasons to qualify as a bookkeeper – here are a few to consider:

Always be in demand – bookkeepers are vital. All businesses, no matter what size, require someone to manage their finances and highlight any issues as soon as they arise. They’re the key to ensuring that the company continues to be profitable. Companies are always on the lookout for qualified bookkeepers.

Ideal if you like to be flexible – bookkeeping can be a great “work from home” job, so you can build your career around your lifestyle and home commitments.

Become self-employed – you don’t have to work for an organisation, you can work for yourself. A profitable, successful bookkeeping business can be run from home with little startup investment needed and minimal overheads.

Progress your career – many bookkeepers keep on learning and become accounting technicians or chartered accountants. There are plenty of routes to consider if you do want to do more in finance.

No need for university – you can take different routes into bookkeeping, and you definitely don’t need to go to uni to qualify. For example, Eagle offers AAT Bookkeeping courses that are open to anyone – no experience necessary.

How to get qualified

Enrol on an Eagle AAT Bookkeeping course via subscription and you can learn at your own pace, in your own way. You can pay as you learn, with no contract and no pressure.

We offer mentor support, and all our learning materials are AAT approved, and created with our partners Kaplan and Osborne Books.

Interested in bookkeeping? Find out more on our AAT Bookkeeping page.

Download our AAT Bookkeeping route infographic.