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Working From Home as a Bookkeeper

Monday, July 01, 2013

Stay at home mum? Try this work from home job

By William Cowie

Finding legitimate work from home jobs is challenging. The internet is full of scammers offering unbelievable rates of pay for unskilled work. As I’ve learnt the hard way, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is....

So what is a legitimate way for stay at home mums to find work from home jobs?

Bookkeeping is real. It requires genuine skills and you’re providing a real service that people need. It has long been a popular option for mums, because it offers legitimate work-at-home opportunities and a long term career path. So how do you start a career as a bookkeeper?

Bookkeeping as a career for stay at home mums

The important part! Can you actually get work-at-home jobs as a bookkeeper?

Work for yourself

The most exciting option is starting your own contract bookkeeping business. Contract bookkeepers are usually self-employed bookkeepers who provide bookkeeping services to other businesses. The major advantage is setting your own work hours and workload, a huge boon for any stay at home mum!

Most contract bookkeepers are hired by businesses for one reason: to do the BAS.
BAS stands for Business Activity Statements, essential tax reports that businesses have to send to the tax office at certain points in the year.

You MUST be registered as a BAS agent with the Tax Practitioners Board IF you provide BAS services for a fee or other reward. We’ll discuss the requirements to become a BAS agent in more detail in the training section, or you can read our article: How to Become a Registered BAS Agent.

Things do get a little trickier when you’re operating you own business – you need to develop your own client base, purchase & maintain your own equipment, and don’t forget to pay your own super!

You should also get an ABN and you might need to pay GST too. For a complete rundown on becoming a contract bookkeeper, check out our article: How to Become a Contract Bookkeeper.

Work for a bookkeeping or accounting business

It’s often a challenge to find legitimate work from home jobs advertised. You’re better off enquiring directly to contract bookkeeping businesses to see if they employ people working at home.

Some bookkeeping and accounting businesses employ people to do the ‘grunt’ work, entering transactions and other data-entry type work, so that more qualified professionals can then quickly extract reports and other essential information. Thanks to the internet, much of this can be done from home!

Work for a small business

As an alternative, approach small businesses that are trying to employ a casual or part-time bookkeeper. Lots of businesses need someone to calculate payroll and keep all financial records up to date on a weekly basis.

Many of these positions already offer school friendly hours, but you can also discuss working from home for part, even all, of the week. Choose businesses close to home so that it’s not a big deal to duck into the office for meetings, or to pick up and drop off work when needed.

Work with your partner or family

Bookkeeping is also a great complimentary skill to possess if your partner, or members of your extended family, runs their own small businesses. You can keep a lot more money in the family if you don’t need to hire a contract bookkeeper to do the family’s books and BAS statements. Remember, you don’t need to be a registered BAS agent to do BAS, IF you don’t accept a fee or other reward.

Don’t forget to ask your family and network of friends about job opportunities, or offer to take them on as clients when you start your own contract bookkeeping business. Trust is one of the major requirements in a relationship between bookkeeper and client, so you’ll have a massive advantage over other bookkeepers there!

Do you need training to become a bookkeeper?


If you’re serious about starting your bookkeeping career, get training. Training and/or experience are essential to becoming a bookkeeper. Technically it is possible to walk into bookkeeping jobs without experience and qualifications. Realistically, that won’t happen in our job market unless you’re extremely lucky – so it’s time to look at some courses.

Essential bookkeeping courses

Fortunately there are a variety of courses available to get you started. They are offered online from many course providers so you can study at home on your own schedule. The best vocational qualifications to get are the:

-    Certificate IV in Bookkeeping
-    Certificate IV in Accounting

The Certificate IV in Bookkeeping and Certificate IV in Accounting are the most sought after bookkeeping qualifications. I have talked to some bookkeeping companies about their hiring practices and they often require one of these qualifications as a minimum standard.

You can start your Certificate IV in Bookkeeping/Accounting without experience or qualifications; however we find the learning curve can be a little steep if you don’t have bookkeeping knowledge already.  As a result, we normally recommend that you have experience working in the financial services industry, or get a Certificate III level qualification in an accounting/bookkeeping related course, first.

BAS agent training

The Certificate IV in Bookkeeping and Accounting courses are also the minimum qualification needed to register as a BAS agent. It’s very important for furthering your career in bookkeeping. BAS agent registration also requires you to complete suitable GST and BAS courses. Fortunately these can be included as part of the Certificate IV course (product plug: we’ve done this with our Certificate IV in Accounting & Bookkeeping courses here at Inspire Education!).

To meet all BAS agent training requirements, simply ensure the Certificate IV program you study includes these two courses:
-    FNSBKG404A - Carry out business activity and instalment activity statement tasks
-    FNSBKG405A - Establish and maintain a payroll system

Other bookkeeping courses

If you’re looking for alternative entry courses for the bookkeeping field, check out:
•    Certificate III in Accounts Administration
•    Certificate III in Business Administration
•    Certificate IV in Business Administration

The Certificate III in Accounts Administration focuses on teaching bookkeeping and accounting skills you need to get entry level work in bookkeeping. It’s a suitable course for entry into a bookkeeping career in most cases.

The two Business Administration courses also teach a variety of essential bookkeeping skills, plus a number of general office administration skills. They’re also good choices if you’re interested in more general office administration roles in the future.

Bookkeeping – the work from home job with a career path!


The final benefit of bookkeeping is the ability to have a career path, not just a job. We’ve already discussed the business opportunities, but there are also many further training options to unlock more job options throughout your life.

Further vocational training and university education

You can build on your Certificate IV in Bookkeeping/Accounting with a Diploma, then Advanced Diploma of Accounting. A Diploma qualification is accepted as an entry path into many university-level accounting programs, which will give you an accounting degree!

With a degree, you can get a professional accounting accreditation, required for many professional accounting roles. There are two major professional accounting bodies in Australia; CPA Australia and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia.

Bookkeeping – the career for you?

Let’s not beat around the bush – not everyone wants a career in bookkeeping. You need to be good with numbers, organised, have strong analytical and problem solving skills and a lot of patience and dedication. It is a great career choice for many of you though, and I challenge you to at least give it a try!

If you’ve made it this far, you’re interested, or you’ve got incredible fortitude and patience! Either way, I thank you for taking the time to read my article! Check out some accounting and bookkeeping courses today, before you forget or put it off. I’m wishing you the best of luck in your bookkeeping career!

William Cowie is a blogger and inbound marketing professional for Inspire Education, one of Australia’s leading vocational training companies.

William Cowie has also written an article on Services for mothers returning to work

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