Nowadays, more and more small businesses are using virtual bookkeeping services, opening many opportunities for fresh-graduate accountants, professionals with CPA certifications, and people looking for online jobs.
In this article, we’ll explain what exactly a virtual bookkeeping position entails, including common duties and skill/educational requirements. We’ll also highlight why it’s a good idea to work as a virtual bookkeeper, and give you some ideas of how to build your skill.
What does a virtual bookkeeper do?
Virtual bookkeeping is also known as online or remote bookkeeping. Like traditional on-site bookkeepers, virtual bookkeepers manage daily financial responsibilities, such as recording and verifying transactions, creating and analyzing financial reports, processing accounts payable, receivable, payroll, and managing invoices and tax payments.
The key difference is that a traditional on-site bookkeeper needs to be physically present in an office to carry out these tasks, whereas a virtual bookkeeper handles everything remotely using cloud-based software.
The chart below illustrates the key differences between traditional and virtual bookkeepers’ work.
Why it’s great working as a virtual bookkeeper
Virtual bookkeeping is easy to learn
Though many of us may fear that virtual bookkeeping is only for those with an accounting background, this job is an open opportunity for both the experienced and inexperienced.
Bookkeeping jobs mainly involve categorizing things correctly and entering financial information into accounting systems. No formal education is required to be a bookkeeper, and only basic math skills are needed. It’ll be a huge plus if you’re detail-oriented, highly organized, and have experience in administrative work.
If you’re a beginner, you can take a bookkeeping course. Normally, bookkeeping courses last from three months to several years, depending on the length of the course. You can either learn through an online course or get a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting. Online courses take weeks, depending on how many subjects you take on. Meanwhile, it may take up to four years to complete a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting, though some programs offer accelerated, three-year degrees.
You can work anytime
Typically, most bookkeeping jobs offer the flexibility to work in your own schedule. As there are no fixed work hours, clients can call you only when needed, allowing you to have more flexibility. You can start your day whenever you want, set your own schedule, and take breaks any time. Being a virtual bookkeeper, you have to keep track of your client’s daily financial transactions thoroughly in order not to be overwhelmed later on.
There may be, of course, times that your clients need you to work extra hours in a day, like during the tax season. However, if you have excellent time management skills, this won’t be as stressful.
You can work anywhere
Being a virtual bookkeeper means you can work anywhere. All you need is a good laptop equipped with accounting software and a stable internet connection.
If you have young children, a remotely located job allows you to work at home and take care of them. If you have school-aged kids, you can do your tasks from any computer, including outside your home, such as in a coffee shop or a co-working space, while waiting for them to finish school.
Being employed as a virtual bookkeeper offers you more freedom as you can bring your work with you, making sure your job doesn’t consume your entire life. Not to mention, working in different environments can help you stay motivated and focused on tasks.
There are also other good reasons for working remotely, including:
- Greater flexibility
- Better work–life balance
- Higher productivity
- Increased motivation
- Reduced need for office space
You can have a healthy work and life balance
Virtual bookkeeping jobs offer you flexible working hours, allowing you to maintain the work-life balance you want and need. Since you don’t need to travel long distances and hours to work and don’t necessarily have to work exactly from nine to five, you’ll have more time for family, friends, and other habits.
However, do keep in mind that though your virtual bookkeeping job is flexible in counting your work hours, it’s still important to have good time management skills.
Virtual bookkeeping jobs pay well
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of 2021, the median salary of a bookkeeper is $40,240 annually or $19.35 per hour. The actual range falls between $69,000 to $91,000, depending on the employee’s degree.
A virtual bookkeeper can work as an independent contractor for a bookkeeping agency hired by businesses that need outsourced bookkeepers, or they can work directly for a company in need of their services. Virtual bookkeepers also work as independent contractors with their clients.
As a virtual bookkeeper, your salary will largely depend on the specific requirements of the job, the number of clients you handle, the level of education you’ve attained, any training and certifications gained, your work experience, and your specialty.
Working as a virtual bookkeeper also brings you some economic benefits depending on certain factors. By making your home your office, you may be able to reduce commuting or lunch costs. Some virtual jobs even allow you to claim certain work-from-home expenses.
What’s more, like most online jobs, virtual bookkeepers can work on the side and earn much more. Freelance bookkeepers with multiple clients can possibly make around $50 an hour.
What are the essential skills and aptitudes to succeed as a virtual bookkeeper?
To work as a virtual bookkeeper, besides having a strong base of basic accounting and finance-related knowledge, you need to be familiar with Excel sheets and accounting programs like QuickBooks, Xero, and Sage.
Remember that when it comes to bookkeeping, practice makes perfect, so before applying for virtual bookkeeping jobs, make sure you obtain proper education, train wherever you can, and master the science of bookkeeping through practice.
Having good time management and organization skills is also important for a virtual bookkeeper-to-be. Write a thorough and organized to-do list and check it as you go; this small action will help you manage your time and work much more efficiently.
You also need to have an eye for details. Bookkeeping is a game of numbers, so there’s no room for error! A single wrong number can throw off all the work that you’ve already done, making things more difficult and making you untrustworthy to your clients.
After gaining all the necessary skills and aptitudes to become a successful virtual bookkeeper, how to find your dream job? Our suggestion is to visit some potential websites that are actively hiring for virtual bookkeeping jobs, such as FlexJobs, AccountingDepartment.com, Belay Solutions, Click Accounts, Two Roads, Robert Half, and 1-800Accountant.
The bottom line
It’s fascinating how many advantages and possibilities virtual bookkeeping can bring to fresh-graduate accountants, those who earned a CPA certification, and people looking for a remote job. Even if you start from entry-level, you can reach further in this career with diligence and perseverance.
Don’t forget to fully use all the amazing virtual tools available to you! The Shoeboxed app is a tailored accounting app for freelancers, accountants, bookkeepers, and small business owners to simplify their accounting and bookkeeping processes. Shoeboxed helps users free their desks and drawers from piles of receipts and turn them into digital, clearly categorized data. You can easily scan your receipts, manage expenses, store business cards, track mileage, and so much more, with the Shoeboxed app.
Additionally, Shoeboxed’s OCR (Optical Character Recognition) function and human-verification features ensure that your receipts are clearly scanned and well categorized, resulting in human-verified data that are legibly accepted by both the Internal Revenue Service and the Canada Revenue Service.