Are you good with numbers? Do you like getting immersed in all kinds of details? Are you into things like solving puzzles and untangling knots? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might be interested in being an at-home bookkeeper.
I've already shared that bookkeeping is a great career to have because the skills are considered entry-level and it’s the kind of work that easily adapts to working from home. These days, more and more businesses are hiring at-home bookkeepers. And while there’s definitely a solid niche for starting your own bookkeeping business, freelancing is certainly not the only way to do it. You can also find remote work as a bookkeeper for a company in a more traditional employment model.
What do Bookkeepers Do?
While bookkeeping is part of the accounting process, it's much more about staying on top of the clerical tasks as opposed to analyzing reports, preparing taxes and setting budgets. A bookkeeper is often the person inputting the receipts and invoices, counting inventory, classifying expenses and income.
Because your scope is somewhat limited as a bookkeeper, you often don't need an accounting degree. That being said, there are a few skills and personality traits that are absolutely imperative:
- You need to be organized
- You must have strong attention to detail. If you don't like double-checking, or triple-checking, your work, this might not be the job for you.
- You need to be a hard worker.
- You need to be able to handle multiple projects at once. You will probably have more than one client.
- You must be compassionate and personable. To be a successful online bookkeeper, you need to be able to make a connection with your clients. They need to be able to trust you with their finances.
How Much do Online Bookkeepers Make?
As with most freelance opportunities, it depends. If you are working for a large company or accounting firm, they will likely dictate your earnings.
If you decide to start your own bookkeeping business, you can probably earn a lot more as you are taking on more of the responsibilities. According to Bookkeeper Launch, many of their graduates are earning upwards of $60 per hour working from home. ZipRecruiter has the national average for work-from-home bookkeepers at $58,358 per year at the time of updating this post.
Types of At-Home Bookkeeping Jobs
Generally speaking, you’ll have two different options for working from home as a bookkeeper: working for a company that provides bookkeeping services or working directly for the company itself.
If you decide to work for a company that contracts with other organizations to provide bookkeeping services, you'll still be working from home but you might have several different clients.
One of the benefits of joining that kind of company is that they will bring the work to you, but a potential drawback is that you might not make as much money because there’s a “middleman.” You might also run into the issue of inconsistent work, though that isn’t always the case depending on where you work.
Websites that Hire Bookkeepers
These are the main websites that hire bookkeepers to work from home:
- Accountingdepartment.com — If you want a full-time at home job with benefits, this is one of the first places you should apply. AccountingDepartment.com prides itself on hiring great bookkeepers and controllers, and they offer a full benefits package to their full-time employees.
- Belay — While they don’t specialize in bookkeeping or accounting, Belay hires at-home bookkeepers as part of their general virtual assistant talent pool.
- BookMinders — They provide bookkeeping and accounting services with an emphasis on QuickBooks. One thing to be aware of with BookMinders is the geography restriction: you would need to be within driving distance of Philadelphia or Pittsburgh to be able to work for them.
- ClickAccounts — If you’re an accountant or bookkeeper, this website is for you. They only hire in these types of roles. The application involves a resume and cover letter.
- ClickNwork — This website hires for all kinds of professional roles, including bookkeeping. They say in their FAQs to go ahead and apply to work for them, and they’ll be in contact if they have a good spot for you. (This might be a good place to start if you’ve got other administrative skills you want to use for work at home, too.)
And a few recent job postings:
Botkeeper describes itself as an “automated bookkeeping and accounting solution through the use of machine learning and AI.” Don’t let the name fool you, the company is still looking for real people to fill bookkeeping positions. Candidates should have prior experience in restaurant accounting, and have extensive experience with QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop, with a certification in both preferred. Responsibilities include light collections work, full month-end close for cash basis clients, bill pay, and other duties required to handle the day-to-day bookkeeping. Competitive compensation, healthcare, PTO, and additional benefits offered.
LedgerGurus is a virtual, outsourced accounting firm that is looking to fill an eCommerce Accounting Specialist position. The position is remote and will require you to be available during business hours for meetings and trainings. Must be willing to work 15 hours per week and have a strong understanding of Excel. The preferred candidate will have an accounting or finance degree and experience with eCommerce companies. Bonus for experience with Amazon for eCommerce, Shopify, PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc. The Account Specialist will work closely with new eCommerce clients to help them understand the sales channel and payment processor activity.
Two Roads is a bookkeeping company who is hiring for Remote Bookkeeping positions. Bookkeepers will be handling bank reconciliations, production of monthly financials, and management of requests in a timely manner. To be considered for the role, you should have four years or more of bookkeeping or accounting experience. Two Road bookkeepers must be available during regular business hours and have 30 hours or more each week available. Bonus if you are a CPA or have an understanding of R.O.W.E.
You can find more bookkeeping from home jobs on FlexJobs.
More Options for CPAs
If you’re a certified accountant and you want to start doing bookkeeping or even accounting work from home, you’re in an even better position. Freelancing is certainly an option for accounting, but the good news is that there are lots of companies that hire CPAs to do bookkeeping and other related jobs. Plus, you can include words like “accounting” and “CPA” in your job searches.
When you’re looking for a remote job as an accountant, you’ll find opportunities that are with accounting firms as well as jobs posted with individual companies. One job will probably have you working with several clients, whereas if you’re hired by an individual company, that company will be the only work you do.
These are some sites that hire remote accountants to work from home:
- Bateman — This accounting firm frequently has positions available for remote CPAs to pick up part-time accounting work.
- BIDaWIZ — This website hires at-home CPAs and enrolled agents to browse questions that their users post and then offer services those users. It might be best to consider this a supplemental income opportunity until you really get established on the platform.
- Intuit (the maker of TurboTax and other financial software) — Intuit will hire at-home CPAs to offer support to its TurboTax users. These jobs primarily are seasonal but can be full-time or part-time, and some of these seasonal workers will be made permanent. You have to have an active CPA license to apply, and you need to be an expert in tax law to qualify. To find the remote job listings, click on “Select Location” and check the box next to USA Remote.
Finding Remote Bookkeeping Work
Aside from applying to work for a bookkeeping company, you can look for an at-home bookkeeping job the same way you might look for a more traditional bookkeeping job. This is a unique job in that it’s something that, more often than not, can be done from home. Sometimes finding the perfect at-home job starts with finding a great traditional job and then transitioning it to being home-based.
It might be worth applying for a few bookkeeping jobs in your area and seeing about converting the position to a remote one. You don’t want to come into the interview process with the expectation that they’ll rewrite the job description just to accommodate you, but if you made it through the initial interview process it might be worth bringing up.
You might have better luck using this approach with smaller companies with fewer policies and fewer decision makers, as opposed to larger corporations with a thick book of policies that would have to be addressed. A lot of times, these companies will post their positions on Craigslist. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend searching for an at-home job on Craigslist, but I’ve found that this specific area tends to have some legitimate opportunities posted that you could then turn into a remote work opportunity.
Another place you can check for at-home bookkeeping work is Upwork. The jobs on Upwork are typically thought of as freelancers’ work, but the truth is that you might find exactly what you’re looking for there, especially if you’re open to a contract position. It might not be the place where you focus your job search attention, but it’s at least worth checking out.
The Best Job Board
When it comes to finding remote or telecommute work, there’s one place I like more than anything else: FlexJobs is a job board specifically for jobs that are “flexible” — telecommute, flexible hours, open to job-sharing, etc.
FlexJobs pulls together all kinds of career opportunities you could explore and it delivers them to you in one spot. There’s a free job board that anybody can access, and there’s also a job board that can only be accessed by paying FlexJobs members. This means that if you subscribe and FlexJobs, you’ll have access to job listings that aren’t available to everyone else. Your competition will be a lot lower, which means your chances of getting the job go up.
If you need a little bookkeeping brush-up, check out Bookkeeper Launch. Bookkeeper Launch is a fantastic opportunity to get started as a virtual bookkeeper: through 3 FREE classes, Ben Robinson offers to teach what you need to start bookkeeping from home and develop a successful business as you go!
Check Out Callie Sitek's Experience with Bookkeeper Launch
I am a work at home mom with a 3-month-old and almost 3-year-old. I was working as a Virtual Assistant, way undercharging for my services, and doing little odds and ends jobs when I came across the Bookkeeper Launch. I immediately signed up for the free webinars and felt like what Ben said deeply resonated with me. It was like he was describing me to a T in who can be a great bookkeeper. I scrounged to find the money because I knew it was going to be a great return on investment.
From the first week, we started learning bookkeeping basics as well as the business side of things. And within 3 weeks I had started working on my website. I launched my business and website about halfway through the program. We are in the home stretch of finishing up and I have already become Xero certified, started my blog, marketing on Facebook, and am almost finished with my opt-in freebie to start capturing leads.
Gaining client #1 is my first priority right now. Of course, it does take time to create traction, but I'm not just starting out of the gate on my own following the class. I've already started creating networking contacts; content to nurture the know, like, and trust factor; and creating my online presence. I know it is only a matter of time before I get my first client.
For someone considering entering the bookkeeping industry, I would advise they be detail-oriented or it may not be the right fit. You don't have to have any prior knowledge of bookkeeping or business to do well in this course; it is all taught to you from the beginner level.
Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Become an Online Bookkeeper
Since many businesses and entrepreneurs need help with their books, this can be a profitable work-from-home opportunity. But, it’s not a good fit for everyone. To help you make the decision, here are ten essential questions to ask yourself before becoming an online bookkeeper.
Taking the time to ask (and honestly answer) these questions will help prepare you for the challenges you may face when launching a new business. This reflective process will help you be an informed businessperson, which can prepare you to open a business that turns a profit.
(If you aren't sure how to answer some of these, don't worry. I'll tell you where to get help below.)
1. Do You Enjoy Working with Numbers?
While you can do it from home, online bookkeeping still involves plenty of numbers. Do you enjoy working with numbers?
Based on the amount of numbers involved, not everyone is going to love keeping books. It’s not necessarily heavy on math, because these days software can take care of a lot of that. But it’s still lots of numbers. Take time to do some honest reflection. Do you enjoy math and numbers? Or would you rather listen to the Paw Patrol theme song on repeat than deal with these things?
If you don’t enjoy the work of your business, it’s not going to go well for you in the long run. You may be able to fake it for a while, but soon your true feelings will rise up and this can lead to self-sabotage. Don’t do that.
2. Can You Pay Close Attention to Detail?
Accuracy is essential when it comes to bookkeeping. You can’t be “close enough” when keying in numbers.
You must be able to pay close attention to detail. Typically, this means you need to be able to focus without distraction. Bookkeeping is an attractive career for at-home moms, but trying to key in numbers while yelling for a toddler to get off the table doesn’t usually work.
Not every part of online bookkeeping requires this much focus, however. There are tasks you can tackle when you can’t focus completely. These include marketing, answering emails, and working on networking with others. But, when it comes time to do the actual bookkeeping, you should have a distraction-free environment.
3. Do You Know How to Keep Books?
While you can begin online bookkeeping as a beginner, most businesses prefer to work with bookkeepers who have some experience. After all, you must have the knowledge to get the job done. Have you done books for your own business? Have you done this type of work for another company?
If you don’t have any experience, do you have an education that would show clients you are qualified to do their books? This doesn’t have to be a four-year accounting degree (unless that’s what a particular company wants.) There are courses designed to help you become a bookkeeper in much less time, like Bookkeeper Launch. If nothing else, these can provide all the credibility you need to get started.
4. How Will You Package Your Services?
Exactly what tasks are you going to take care of for your clients each month? Will you have an additional fee to set up the bookkeeping system you’ll be using? Many online bookkeepers offer two or three different packages that range in price.
Often the basic service will include:
- Updating the books on a monthly basis, up to a certain number of transactions
- Bank reconciliation for 1 checking and 1 savings account
- Monthly or quarterly P&L reports
- Email support
Then these basic services can be upgraded, additional services offered, and more support provided in higher priced-packages.
There are also bookkeeping companies that offer help with tax preparation and payroll. Are these services you will provide?
To help you answer this question, take some time to envision what support you want to offer clients. Then write down possible packages you could offer.
You may wind up tweaking these down the road, and that’s okay. The point of this question is just to get you thinking about what services you could provide. That way you can market and communicate about them much more effectively.
5. How Much Will You Charge?
What are you going to charge for each of your packages? How much will you charge to get things set up?
If you’re having trouble coming up with a price, it can help to think of the hourly wage you want to earn. Then, instead of charging hourly, use that amount to price your packages. How long will each package take you each week? Always round up, because things will take longer than you expect.
Then, multiply that number by your hourly rate. This is a rough estimate of what your weekly price should be for that service. Then you can multiply that amount by 52 and divide the total by 12. This will give you an idea of what a monthly rate would be. Remember not to just multiply it by four, since many months have more than four weeks.
How does that rate feel to you? How does it compare to what other bookkeepers are charging? Doing a little bit of market research can help you ensure you set fair rates.
6. How Will Clients Get Their Receipts to You?
Gone are the days of overflowing shoeboxes. As an online bookkeeper, you will be working with digital copies of the paperwork.
But your client needs a secure way to get those to you. You need to have this system figured out before you land your first client. That way you have a process in place.
Here are three common strategies for getting the receipts from your clients:
- Dropbox. Your clients can scan in their physical receipts and save them to Dropbox. Any that come in via email can get saved into that folder as well.
- Google Drive. Similar to Dropbox, your client can save copies of all of their receipts in a shared Drive folder.
- Email. You could also consider setting up a separate email account and having your client send everything to that email.
There are pros and cons to each system, so you will need to spend some time thinking this through. No matter what system you use, organization will be key. You must have a sure method of tracking which receipts you already entered and which ones still need to be done.
7. How Will You Ensure Confidentiality for Your Clients?
Bookkeeping deals with sensitive data. How are you going to keep your client’s information confidential?
You will want to ensure you use secure means of collecting passwords into bookkeeping software. That way this information isn’t sent freely out into cyberspace.
Also, don’t make the mistake of discussing details about your client’s books with others. This information is not fodder for your blog posts or social media feed – unless you have express written permission.
8. What Bookkeeping Systems Will You Support?
Are you comfortable using QuickBooks Online? Or Xero? Will all of your clients use the same system, or will you support a variety of them? There are many different types of accounting software, and you need to decide what you will work with.
Once you make a decision, you can use this information in your marketing and as you set up your packages. Always detail the specifics like this so your client has a better idea of what to expect. Being clear will also help keep away clients who use systems you don’t want to work with.
9. Why Should Clients Work with You and Not a Different Bookkeeper?
What is your unique selling proposition? That is, what separates you from the other online bookkeepers? Are you certified to work with a specific bookkeeping system? Do you have an advanced degree in the field? Are your prices low to attract beginning businesses? Or do you work exclusively with high-end brands?
Why should your clients work with you and not someone else? Knowing who you serve and what sets you apart will help you nail your marketing. You will be able to speak directly to your ideal client and use words that attract them to your business.
10. How Will You Market Your Services?
You can’t just start a business and wait for clients to start working with you. You must actively market your services.
There are many ways to do that. Many bookkeepers start with a basic website. Some add a blog with helpful articles about bookkeeping. Other bookkeepers use ads on Craigslist or Facebook. Some opt to work with local clients and send out fliers or bookmarks. Others have the best luck networking with other business owners at in-person events.
Think about where your clients are and how they can find out about your services. Meet them where they are and let them see the value you provide.
Now, if you aren't quite sure how to answer the above questions just yet, that's okay! Those are all things Bookkeeper Launch can help you decipher and navigate.
Originally published January 2017. Updated January 2020.