A virtual bookkeeper is a bookkeeper who conducts his/her work online. These professionals provide the same responsibilities of traditional bookkeepers except that they are hired by a company or client to do the work remotely.
Modern businesses are opening up their shops for telecommuting or work-from-home positions, thanks to the existing technologies, web-based tools, cloud services and the internet. And this has paved the way for old-fashioned jobs like bookkeeping to survive globalization.
What is a virtual bookkeeper?
In the traditional economy, a bookkeeper is someone with advanced accounting skills and knowledge of preparing financial statements. Unlike a certified public accountant (CPA) who holds a finance-related 4-year degree, a master’s degree and license to practice, bookkeepers don’t have strict educational requirements.
In fact, bookkeepers perform various accounting tasks without any problems, but they often have to submit sensitive documents to licensed accountants for approval. This type of delegation is how huge accounting firms are able to cater to multiple clients at any given time.
The job of virtual bookkeepers is the same as their office-based counterparts. They are responsible for:
- Maintaining annual budgets
- Updating chart of accounts
- Analyzing financial statements
- Collecting receivables on time
- Recording cash receipts
- Issuing customer invoices
- Monitoring debt level or financial standing
- Maintaining petty cash fund
- Conducting monthly or annual account reconciliation
- Processing payroll
- Maintaining annual budget
- Complying with local, state and federal government laws about financial reporting or taxes
- Performing various admin support tasks
Pros and Cons of Home-Based Bookkeeper Jobs
PRO: One of the best things about being a bookkeeper is that you don’t need to have a CPA to be one. There have been office assistants who have earned their way into a full-blown bookkeeping career because they’ve developed real-world accounting skills.
CON: Unfortunately, you can’t become a virtual bookkeeper on a whim. This is the type of online job that requires a very specific set of skills, which includes advanced knowledge of the finance world and business transactions, computer skills, excellent communication, and the ability to connect with clients.
PRO: Unlike the office-based bookkeeping job, a virtual bookkeeper has the freedom to work whenever and wherever he/she prefers. You’ll be in control about the type of clients you manage, and work-related logistics such as work hours.
CON: Of course, having this much flexibility means that you’re going to work harder than traditional bookkeepers, especially if you decide to go the freelance route and seek clients on your own. It’s not going to be easy to land an account if you’re new to this field, but once you’re in, you’ll be reaping the benefits in no time.
PRO: The best things about a virtual bookkeeping job are the income potential and positive job outlook. Even if you work freelance, business owners will value the work you do because handling finances and accounting are highly sensitive and they would pay premium rates for your skills and loyalty. Bookkeepers are always in demand (even after tax season), so you won’t have to worry about downtimes.
How much do virtual bookkeepers make?
A virtual bookkeeper can make between $18 to $50 per hour. They can work as a contractor of an online bookkeeping firm, or work freelance handling his/her own clients. As such, the salary of virtual bookkeepers depends largely on the type of employment obtained, number of clients being handled, and other factors like work experience and specialty.
Freelance bookkeepers who have multiple clients usually charge by the hour. They make around $50 an hour. Bookkeepers employed with a company earn somewhere between $35,000 and $55,000.
Of course, like most online jobs, virtual bookkeepers can work on the side and earn much more. Do note that some bookkeeping firms would require you to sign a no-compete contract, which means you can’t put up the same business or offer your services as a freelancer as long as you’re employed with that firm.
10 Places to Find Virtual Bookkeeping Jobs
If you’re interested in a new field and would love to try your luck with bookkeeping, do note that aside from basic accounting and finance-related knowledge, you have to be able to work your way through programs like QuickBooks Online, Xero, and Kashoo.
When it comes to bookkeeping, practice makes perfect, so before you change your career, obtain proper education, train wherever you can, and master the science of bookkeeping through practice. Those with bookkeeping experience can jump right in and join any of these bookkeeping firms:
Launched in 2007 as ‘Balance Your Books,’ the site has work-from-home positions available for bookkeepers with a CPA. The tasks required from bookkeepers range from payroll processing to preparing general ledgers.
AccountingDepartment.com lets its “employees” work from 8 to 5. Bookkeepers here earn by the hour, plus paid holidays, generous vacation package, 401 (k) plan, and group medical, dental, life, vision, accident insurance.
Don’t be turned off by Bateman & Co.’s outdated-looking website; they’re certified public accountants (and not webmasters) after all. The bookkeeping jobs available here can be either part-time or full-time, but all are work-from-home positions. Unfortunately, only those with CPA or three-year bookkeeping experience would be considered.
If you’re a Texas resident, you’re in luck since Bateman & Co. prefers those living locally. If hired, bookkeepers will prepare corporate, partnership and individual tax returns and accounting records.
Launched in 2010, this Virtual Assistance company includes virtual bookkeepers as part of their talent pool. Belay is always on the lookout for people with at least 5 years of accounting or bookkeeping experience and advanced skills in QuickBooks.
Of course, since this is an at-home bookkeeping position, you’re expected to have a home office set up, computer with webcam, fast internet and the current version of QuickBooks. You’ll also have to OK with a background and reference check during application.
As a Belay bookkeeper, you’ll be reconciling bank statements and credit/debit cards, processing payroll, preparing 1099, maintaining chart of accounts, managing cash flow, and producing weekly, monthly and annual balance sheets, income statements and other financial documents.
Established in 2008, BIDaWIZ is a trusted company run by accounting professionals. It was launched to help fellow tax and finance professionals in the field with skilled help when needed. There are always work-at-home accountant and virtual bookkeeper positions available, but they’re a bit stricter when it comes to credentials.
Applicants will only be considered if they have at least 2 years of professional accounting background or Enrolled Agent Licensure. Note that they hire a third-party company to verify applicant information, license, and so on, so it would be wise to provide legit info.
This Pennsylvania-based company has been providing bookkeeping services around Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, South Jersey and Baltimore in the last 25 years. It is home to many part-time and full-time licensed accountants, bookkeepers and other finance professionals. Most Bookminders clients are in non-profit, so experience in this field would up your chances.
Bookminders are a bit lax with requirements. Candidates must have at least 2 years of bookkeeping experience. Of course, those with an AA degree always have an edge. If hired, bookkeepers can enjoy a flexible schedule, a ton of training/career development programs, and incentive-based income with potential of an increase based on performance.
Click Accounts is a BPO (Business Process Outsourcer) company, aimed at providing accounting and bookkeeping services. They help other businesses by processing bill payments, calculating accounts receivables and reconciling bank accounts. Not much is posted about the virtual bookkeeper job, but the company is accepting resumes all year round.
This small accounting firm rarely opens up its employment page, but if you’re lucky enough and find a slot, make sure to send in your resume. TAD Accounting offers work-from-home accountant jobs for those with 2+ years of experience. You may check out TAD Accounting’s LinkedIn, or send your resume at firstname.lastname@example.org.
8. Click N Work
Click N Work is different than most of the sites here, since it also caters to other professionals like writers, paralegals, analysts, dancer, and a whole lot more. What Click N Work does is that it matches your profile to clients looking to fill booking services. Common tasks involve creating economic papers, writing market reviews, and building company profiles.
Pay varies widely between experience and specialty, but you can earn anywhere from $40 and $150 between $40 and $150 an hour. Tasks can be paid with a commission-share term or a fixed fee.
This Colorado-based company doesn’t advertise its openings, but hires accountants, bookkeepers, financial controllers, CPAs, CFOs and more. As part of the Assurance Financial Management team, virtual bookkeepers will help with vendor management, payroll, financial reporting, bill payment, accounts receivable, business financial management, and so on.
The only problem with a virtual bookkeeping job from this company is that you will be considered an independent contractor, which means no employee benefits no matter how long you’ve been working for Assurance Financial Management.
A home to many freelancers, FlexJobs has an entire category dedicated to home-based bookkeeping jobs. It’s a place for seasoned virtual bookkeepers who can take the challenge of juggling multiple clients, since FlexJobs list down hand-screened job leads from numerous companies.
If you’re serious about bookkeeping as a freelancer, you’d find the $15/month membership fee worthy of spending. If you’re on the fence, don’t worry, since FlexJobs offers a 30-day money-back guarantee if you’re not happy with the leads you see.
How to start your own Bookkeeping company
If you’re not interested in working for a bookkeeping firm, you can always start your own bookkeeping business from the comforts of your own home. You’ll need a bit of capital here, but about $2,000 is still low when compared to traditional business startup costs. This amount will mostly cover licenses to online bookkeeping tools like QuickBooks Online and Xero, as well as training (if you’re transitioning from office-based bookkeeping to a remote position).
Note that the $2k capital I stated only includes you as the main bookkeeper who would offer services to clients, so you’re practically investing on your own skills. However, once you decide to build a bookkeeping firm and hire other accounting professionals, you’d need to allot salary and benefits, licenses to bookkeeping tools, and training packages.
Whether you’re offering bookkeeping services on your own, or managing a team of bookkeepers, the biggest chunk of expense you’d be facing is ongoing training. Just like any professional service, learning in the finance industry should be continuous to keep up with technology, new laws, and other fluctuating elements that affect your bookkeeping business.
To succeed in this line of work, you’d need to study how to compete in the ever-changing, globalized economy. This means you would have to maintain deadlines, follow strict guidelines, and deliver work as smoothly as possible. It’s important that you establish clear terms with your clients, which would help them manage their expectations.
The Bottom Line
As I said earlier, the outlook for online bookkeeping jobs will continue to be optimistic as long as the need is there. Ecommerce sites, modern businesses, and traditional companies that are embracing online technologies would benefit financially from hiring freelance bookkeepers than employing one. Your virtual bookkeeping job will be in-demand for years to come.
Whichever route you take in online bookkeeping, you have to agree that it’s an amazing time for CPAs, any virtual bookkeeper and other finance professionals.
Home-based jobs like these provide you with more time to balance life with work. Your client base will also expand quite massively since conducting business online means your bookkeeping service can be sought by any entrepreneur or company no matter which part of the world they come from.