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This blog aims to answer your questions about bookkeeping roles in the UK. See what's involved in this numbers-oriented career. If you love processing invoices and payroll, calculating VAT returns and managing business accounts, this could be the role for you.

What is a bookkeeper? 

Bookkeeper responsibilities involve maintaining accurate financial records for businesses or individuals. Their tasks typically include recording financial transactions, reconciling bank statements, processing invoices and payments, managing payroll, and producing financial reports. They ensure that financial data is organised, up-to-date, and compliant with relevant regulations. 

Individuals best suited for this role possess strong attention to detail, excellent numerical skills, and a solid understanding of accounting principles and software. They should be organised, methodical, and able to work efficiently with minimal supervision. Excellent communication skills are also important for liaising with clients, vendors, and other stakeholders. 

Ultimately, successful bookkeepers are those who are reliable, accurate, and dedicated to maintaining the financial health and integrity of the businesses they serve. 

Types of bookkeeper 

In the UK, there are mainly two types of bookkeepers: 

  • Certified bookkeepers have completed qualifications through the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB) and may carry the designation MICB or FICB depending on their level of experience and expertise. 

  • Chartered accountants (ACA or ACCA) with bookkeeping services are qualified through bodies like the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) or the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). 

What do you need to become a bookkeeper?

Bookkeeper qualifications  

Ideal candidates may have a background in accounting, finance, or a related field, although formal qualifications are not always necessary. Some bookkeepers may acquire skills through on-the-job training or pursue relevant certifications to enhance their credibility and expertise. 

Bookkeepers also typically need qualifications such as AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians) certification or equivalent. You can also visit Reed Courses to find a host of bookkeeping courses that can help you on your career journey. 

Skills and experience 

The skills required to become a bookkeeper include proficiency in accounting software, attention to detail, numerical accuracy, and organisational skills. Experience with bookkeeping tasks, such as maintaining ledgers, reconciling accounts, and producing financial reports, is also essential. 

Knowledge of relevant UK accounting regulations and tax laws is valuable – and to impress the top accountancy and finance employers, candidates will need to show evidence of their motivation for keeping their skills up to date. 

Bookkeeper responsibilities 

So, what does a bookkeeper do? A typical bookkeeper role involves maintaining accurate financial records for a company or organisation. Responsibilities may include: 

Recording financial transactions: documenting all incoming and outgoing financial transactions, including purchases, sales, receipts, and payments. 

Reconciliation: ensuring that bank statements, invoices, and other financial records match up and reconciling any discrepancies. 

Payroll processing: calculating and processing employee salaries, taxes, and other deductions. 

VAT returns: managing VAT records and submitting VAT returns to HM Revenue & Customs. 

Financial reporting: Generating financial reports such as profit and loss statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements for management review. 

Budgeting and forecasting: assisting with budget creation and providing financial forecasts to support decision-making. 

Compliance: ensuring compliance with relevant accounting standards, tax regulations, and company policies. 

Working hours for bookkeepers typically follow standard office hours, which are around 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. However, some bookkeepers may work part-time or have flexible hours depending on the needs of the employer. Overtime may be required during busy periods such as tax season or year-end closing.

Bookkeeper career prospects 

As bookkeeping is a vital business function, those seeking bookkeeping employment opportunities will find many prospects nationwide, with a higher availability of roles in major cities like London, Manchester, Birmingham, and Edinburgh.

According to data in our free accountancy & finance salary guide 2024, the average salary for a bookkeeper in the UK is £29,000 per year, with variation based on experience, location, and industry. Networking within professional organisations like the Association of Accounting Technicians can also be beneficial for career growth and job opportunities. 

Many people choose to work independently, which offers all the freedom of self-employment as well as the risks, of course. While some argue that AI will eventually reduce the need for traditional bookkeeping, the reality of having a human to speak to is still preferred by many businesses, making this a viable career for those who enjoy number crunching, communication and close detail work. 

To find your dream role as a bookkeeper, get in touch with our expert accountancy & finance recruitment team.