Accounting and bookkeeping are critical to every business. With the help of professional and qualified expertise, companies prepare reliable financial reports, conduct their analysis, and make intelligent decisions. Accounting and bookkeeping services ensure companies have the actual data to make logical choices and maximize returns. The ultimate aim of accounting and bookkeeping is to maintain mess-free records and improve financial position, performance, and progress insights. However, having a robust accounting process and workflow depends on the human personnel facilitating the operations. Although technology has risen in accounting operations and plays a transformative role in the current times, it still needs human resources.
The quality of accounting and bookkeeping services depends on the person handling the activity. The reason is that accounting and bookkeeping require a human mind to make sense of the financial transactions and data and present them to the appropriate stakeholders in relevant formats. Thus, companies must spend a reasonable amount of time finding a qualified, experienced, and insightful accounting and bookkeeping services provider who stays organized and disciplined, provide strong attention to detail, etc. They must have solid financial skills and the required credentials to practice accounting and bookkeeping.
Let us consider the critical skills of the accounting and bookkeeping services provider team, including a bookkeeper, accountant, tax manager, etc., that render them apt for a business:
- Educational qualifications:
Becoming a bookkeeper or an accountant may require varied educational qualifications and training. Getting an undergraduate degree and college training is preferable for bookkeeping and accounting qualifications. However, some businesses may value experience and accounting knowledge more than their educational background. The bookkeeping and accounting academic qualifications can be as follows:
- Earning a degree- Bookkeepers must complete their high school diploma or GED certificate. Aspiring bookkeepers must gain experience by looking into entry-level bookkeeping roles after graduation. More experience means more knowledge and responsibility. The two-year undergraduate program provides necessary job skills, whereas the four-year bachelor’s program offers an in-depth understanding of the profession.
For accounting and CPA positions, the aspirant must complete the relevant studies from the applicable accountancy state board. The CPA candidate must complete at least 150 hours of the semester in the course.
- Alternative education- After finishing the high school diploma or GED certificate, aspiring bookkeepers can take self-learning courses and formal tutorials. Seeking internship or training placements provides a kickstart to the bookkeeping career. Certificate programs are also available for enrolment in community colleges and career centers.
- Available certifications:
The bookkeeping services profession does not require a license or certificate to practice. However, some bookkeepers still choose to earn the optional credentials. These include a Certified Public Bookkeeping (CPB) license and a Certified Bookkeeper (CB) role. The National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers (NACPB) provides the former, while the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB) manages the latter. These credentials offer specific advantages to bookkeepers.
The CPB credential is the most commonly opted certificate in bookkeeping services. It involves taking four tests relating to the following:
- Bookkeeping Certification Exam
- Payroll Certification Exam
- Quickbooks Online Certification Exam
- Accounting Certification Exam
Passing the four tests leads accounting and bookkeeping professionals to own a standalone certificate. Combining them provides bookkeepers a CPB designation, which requires them to dedicate at least 24 hours of continuing education every year. A CPB certification requires bookkeepers to have a bachelor’s degree in accounting beforehand. The aspirant must clear the four tests mentioned above without a college degree.
Similarly, obtaining a CB certification requires no minimum education. There can be benefits to pursuing associated degrees or accounting certificate programs. Apart from the educational requirements, the eligibility requirements for CPB and CB credentials remain the same. These include passing the four tests, verifying bookkeeping education and experience, and agreeing to follow a professional code of conduct.
The experiential requirements are:
- A minimum of one year or 2000 hours of accounting and bookkeeping experience is necessary for a CPB license. The employer or client of the aspirant must fill out and attest forms about their work.
- The CB designation needs two years of full-time bookkeeping experience or 3000 hours of part-time or freelancing experience, as evidence. Aspiring candidates can accomplish the experiential requirements before or after the three years of taking the exam.
The bookkeeping services providers begin their careers as clerks managing payables, receivables, and other monotonous junior accounting roles. However, those who obtain degrees and certificates may bypass the junior-level experience requirements. Building bookkeeping knowledge through practice is critical. Internships, training programs, and placements provide hands-on bookkeeping experiences, enhancing the educational and experience level.
On the other hand, a CPA candidate must cover at least two years of experience as an auditor. The CPA certification requires the candidates to complete 40 hours per year of continuing professional education. The aspirants must pay an annual fee to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). Not taking remedial action may cause a lapse in the certification.
- Hard skills:
The current times involve having complete knowledge about the technological operations in accounting and bookkeeping services. The bookkeepers must also hold the same for technological advancements. They must understand the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), taxation rules and applicability to different business structures and sectors, mathematical comprehension, and data analysis. The hard skills are quantifiable and technical for bookkeeping services. These competencies improve with practice, time, and repetition.
- Soft skills:
Unlike hard skills, soft skills are related to people or their interpersonal skills, understanding a person’s emotional intelligence. It helps analyze the individuals’ understanding and responses to specific situations.
The entire team offering accounting and bookkeeping services must achieve the required qualifications and certifications to ensure top-notch quality services. Skilled professionals must use innovative tools and technology to optimize resource utilization. Competent accounting and bookkeeping professionals, tax managers, etc., allow flexible working approaches for seamless business functioning.