Accounting and bookkeeping have long been jobs available to those who want to work from home, work part-time, or work seasonally. Accountants who work for only a few clients or book keepers for one or two small businesses can work part-time year-round, and technology is making it infinitely easier to work from home. Here are the steps to becoming a work at home accountant or book keeper.
Get Educated and Certified
There is far more to bookkeeping than learning generally accepted accounting practices, though it is a start. The literal cost of bookkeeping mistakes cannot be understated. If someone fails to file the necessary tax paperwork for your business, it will receive fines or worse from the IRS.
A bookkeeper who makes a few major mistakes or continually makes the same minor ones literally costs the client money, and once they find out, the negative word of mouth will prevent you from finding any new clients. This is why any aspiring bookkeeper must be properly educated to even have a chance at working in the field.
The minimum you need to work as a bookkeeper is an associate’s degree in accounting, though most clients want a bachelor’s degree or higher. If you are qualified to fill out tax forms for the business, you’ll earn more. Whether you earn an online master in taxation degree from an online master in taxation program or tax preparation certifications from various schools, any certification recognized by your clients will result in higher pay and acceptance by more clients.
A Certified Public Accountant license is required for some positions, such as submitting any paperwork to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Get the Right Software
If you’re going to work as a bookkeeper, you need to have the software your clients use. Quickbooks is one of the leading software applications for accountants, but Freshbooks, Xero, and Capterra are catching up. If you want to work with major companies, Netsuite is an important tool to learn and have at hand.
One way to find clients is to advertise your services. If you start by contacting small businesses in your area, you may find work this way. However, the more likely solution is asking for word of mouth referrals since people are reluctant to hand over their financial information to a stranger.
One option is checking gig websites for people searching for accounting services, such as generating their first financial reports or closing their private books. These experiences can turn into long-term arrangements or provide referrals to other customers. There are online job sites that list work from home accounting positions in addition to standard office accounting jobs. Working for a tax preparation service during the spring and networking with these customers to become bookkeepers for them is an option if it doesn’t violate a non-compete clause in the firm’s employment contract.
The first step in becoming a work at home accountant or bookkeeper is learning the rules, regulations and actual work of bookkeeping and accounting. Earning a widely recognized certification is invaluable. You need to have access to the software your clients use. Then you need to drum up a few clients. Leverage relationships and public positions to find them.