Qualification to be self employed bookkeeper

CMS Registered Posts: 21 New contributor 🐸
Hello there everyone,

Just wondering if anyone knows what level of qualification you need to be a self employed bookkeeper. I am waiting on the final exam of my AAT Technicians course and would like to one day work for myself doing companies books. Any idea if I need to do more qualifications and if so what?



  • Sevren
    Sevren Registered Posts: 101 Dedicated contributor 🦉
    Hello there - you don't need any qualifications - but you do need the confidence that comes with knowing what your doing for both your sake and the clients.

    Experience is crucial if you are going it alone (as I discovered the hard way) - far more than qualifications (in my opinion)

    Best of luck to you
  • mikes
    mikes Registered Posts: 254 Dedicated contributor 🦉
    The main bit is that when you are fully qualified with the AAT, you will need to register as a member in practice, so that you can start your own company. However it depends on what services you want to offer your clients, if further qualifications are needed or not. Ie i dont think that you can audit companies, you will need something like an ACCA for that.

    The AAT can offer more guidenance as to what is required and what you can and cannot do, in terms of your membership. One advantage is that, by doing this you are then automaticly covered, when it comes to submitting your CPD.
  • Timmne
    Timmne Registered Posts: 37 Regular contributor ⭐
    I agree with Sevren and would add that getting AAT has nothing to do with whether you can be a bookkeeper.

    As someone who works for companies who often use self emlployed bookkeepers, I will give you one tip and that's make sure you're 100% confident with what you're doing.

    If I find one of my clients has a bookkeeper who's not up to the job then I always recommend that they drop the bookkeeper. It's a simple job but I would definitely say you should have a good accountancy grounding first, in what is required after the bookkeeping stage - having a blinkered bookkeeper who just wants to enter invoices onto a system and not review the accounts on a regular basis is a nightmare.
  • blobbyh
    blobbyh Registered Posts: 2,415 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
    There was a brief discussion on this a while back;


    To be self employed, as well as the legal stuff you'll need to have demonstrable 110% confidence in your abilities, have a supreme understanding of double entry and P&L and the BS, be fluent in the hunting down and correction of errors (and I don't just mean the simplistic journal stuff as some things can't easily be corrected by journals alone), knowledgeable in at least the most common low end software programs such as Sage Line 50 and Quickbooks and competent enough to answer clients questions within reason.

    As noted by several MIP's on here before, while these forums are a quick place for quick answers they're not the place for intensive (and free) tuition due to a fundamental lack of knowledge by would be book keepers charging others for a service they're providing.
  • joanne79
    joanne79 Registered Posts: 3 New contributor 🐸
    Can i ask the accountants that are saying the bookkeepers are doing the books wrong - What are they doing wrong?

    I would like to start self employed bookkeeping and want to do it right
  • Timmne
    Timmne Registered Posts: 37 Regular contributor ⭐
    Good question!

    Couple of bits I can think of off the top of my head:

    Thinking outside the box - a common problem I find with bad bookkeepers is that they don't review what they've done. The thought of looking at the P&L and BS after they've done their magic is alien to them. Things like having entered the same rent invoice twice would stick out like a sore thumb on a brief review.

    Reconciling accounts - you need to make sure that you reconcile all balance sheet accounts regularly and I'm not just referring to cash books. Accounts such as provisions can easily skew the P&L so these need to be kept on top of.

    A good knowledge of VAT is essential. Many poor bookkeepers just print off the VAT each quarter and possibly treat the account to a reconciliation once in a while - things like claiming VAT back on mileage is often ignored but can 'lose' (or not save, IYSWIM) the client lots of money.

    Accruals & prepayments - not just understanding what they are, but using them so that the client can carry out reporting whenever necessary.

    I'll add more if I think of any!

    The general idea is to provide a valuable service to the client. Often, the year end accountant has to make so many corrections to the bookkeeper's work that it would have been quicker to get an accounts junior on to the task of writing up the books themselves!
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