If you are considering a career as a bookkeeper, it is important to understand the difference between qualifications that will qualify you as a bookkeeper, as opposed to a fully-qualified accountant. Bookkeepers maintain accounts for their clients up to trial balance sheet stage, but an accountant is then required to finalise the formal accounts for a business. There are a variety of ways you can study to become a bookkeeper, to fit around your current commitments.
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AAT bookkeeping certificate
One of the most respected qualifications for bookkeepers in the UK is the AAT Certificate in Bookkeeping. The qualification can take around three months to complete, if studied part-time, but it can also be completed more quickly when studied full-time. Options in relation to distance learning, classroom based learning and on-line learning. Costs are relatively modest at £108 as of July 2013 for the level two bookkeeping registration and assessments.
ICB bookkeeping courses
The Institute of Chartered Bookkeepers offers it's own set of qualifications and standards, but not courses. The courses are held by other bodies throughout the UK and can be found on-line or through local colleges. There are two strands of learning via this method, bookkeeping manually and computerised bookkeeping and the ICB offers separate qualifications in each. They recommend that to work as a bookkeeper, it is necessary to reach level two in each strand. A sample cost found for a distance learning level two manual bookkeeping course was £230, as of July 2013.
IAB bookkeeping qualifications
The International Association of Bookkeepers has a wide range of courses to enable students to learn about bookkeeping. Their courses are also split into payroll, bookkeeping manually and computerised bookkeeping; the computerised courses relate to the Sage accounts packages. A sample cost for the level two manual bookkeeping IAB qualification, from a distance learning provider is £498.34 as of July 2013.
The entry criteria for the majority of bookkeeping qualifications is fluid. However, you should have an aptitude for maths and be able to prove this either through work experience or qualifications. A sensible way to decide which course path to take would be to look at job advertisements for the kind of role you would like to gain at the end of the courses, and to check their desirable criteria.
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