In the 15th century, Luca Pacioli, a Franciscan friar and good friend of Leonardo da Vinci, published a textbook that would have profound influence on the world. The book contained the first detailed explanation of the double-entry system, which would eventually become the standard practice of accountants the world over.
Though there’s evidence of the double-entry system being used by Florentine merchants as early as the 13th century, this was the first codified version of the method, which is why Pacioli is considered by many to be the father of accounting.
The double-entry rule stipulates that each financial transaction must be recorded twice, once for the debit account and once for the credit account. This ensures that the total assets of an organization will always be equal to the owner equity plus total liability, which is the fundamental principal of accounting. It is the bookkeeper’s task to ensure that this principal is upheld through a system of procedures designed to achieve that end.
What is a bookkeeper?
There’s a common misconception that bookkeeper is just another word for accountant. In truth, bookkeeping refers to a sub-discipline within the accounting profession, and a very important one at that. Bookkeepers are responsible for ensuring that the financial records of the organization are in order; the very records that accountants depend on when they have to determine the state of a company’s finances.
Bookkeepers need to be familiar with accounting principles, as well as the regulations governing the industry in which their employer operates. The records they maintain are essential to the financial well-being of the organization, and the data contained therein will have significant influence on company policy.
All organizations are required by law to maintain accurate records of their financial dealings. As such, bookkeepers will always be in demand – in every industry.
They may operate on a freelance basis, or as permanent employees within a company. Many freelance bookkeeping jobs can be performed from home, presenting a viable option for people with family commitments. A qualification in bookkeeping also opens up a variety of entry-level positions for those seeking full-time employment.
In a small enterprise, bookkeepers may have a number of duties, whereas a large organization will usually have several bookkeepers, each one dedicated to a specific task. The duties of a bookkeeper may include:
- Reconciling bank statements to ensure all the figures add up.
- Dealing with any customer queries that pertain to financial information.
- Dealing with employee queries regarding payroll and other financial matters.
- Administrative work, such as filing documents and keeping a record of office supplies.
- Logging information in the various entry books, including the purchases and sales journals, general journal, and the payroll register.
- Recording petty cash expenses.
- Providing information to internal and external auditors.
Becoming a bookkeeper
A bookkeeper requires extensive knowledge of accounting procedures and principals, meticulous attention to detail, a methodical approach, and a familiarity with the various computer software programs that have become essential to the accounting profession.
Those who cultivate a deeper understanding of the relationship between the numbers on the balance sheet and the functioning of the business will do their career prospects a world of good. They will be better equipped to advise their employers on business policy, increasing their value to the company and creating new possibilities for career advancement.
If you’re interested in pursuing a career in bookkeeping, use TafeCourses.com.au’s portal to find courses that will provide you with the qualifications necessary to succeed in the industry.
Read our Guide to TAFE courses in Australia.