Bookkeepers who possess specific skills not only have successful careers but also feel empowered in their roles. The good news is that if you aren’t already gifted with all of these skills, there are ways to master the bookkeeper skills you lack, empowering you to excel in your career.

Earning certifications from organizations like the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers and the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers can demonstrate your expertise to employers and help you become a certified public bookkeeper.

Here, we will cover the essential bookkeeping skills, which may not be listed in the job description but are vital for enjoying a flourishing bookkeeping career.

Read on for a rundown of bookkeeper skills and tips on developing and enhancing them.

Table of Contents

How can accounting software enhance bookkeeper skills?

Accounting software significantly enhances key bookkeeping skills by automating and streamlining many tedious tasks associated with managing financial documents. 

Its features support bookkeepers in maintaining accuracy, organization, and efficiency.

Shoeboxed - ideal for bookkeepers looking to automate and streamline tedious tasks

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Let's use Shoeboxed as an example. Shoeboxed is a receipt scanner that turns receipts into data with automatic data extraction for expense reporting, tax prep, and more.

We'll point out how Shoeboxed can enhance some of the following skills.

Skill #1. Attention to detail

Being detail-oriented is critical to a successful bookkeeping career. This skill ensures the client that you can work with accuracy and fewer mistakes when handling a company's financial records, general ledger accounts, and other financial data. This is a crucial skill since business owners use this information to make critical business decisions.

How to get better at attention to detail

Take your time and focus on quality over quantity. You'll make fewer mistakes if you don't rush through your work. Avoid distractions so you can stay focused on what you're working on.

How Shoeboxed can help

Bookkeepers must meticulously record financial transactions, ensuring that all entries are accurate and complete to avoid errors in financial statements.

Shoeboxed’s automated receipt capture and data extraction features reduce the risk of human error.

Scan your receipts with Shoeboxed

Shoeboxed helps bookkeepers maintain accurate records effortlessly by digitizing receipts automatically.

One way to digitize receipts is to scan them with your mobile device's camera and Shoeboxed's app. The app uploads the critical data into a designated account.

Use Shoeboxed’s Magic Envelope to mail your receipts in to be processed

Or, if you want to outsource your scanning, users can mail receipts in a postage-paid envelope or Magic Envelope to Shoeboxed’s processing facility for free. The processing facility will scan the receipts into your Shoeboxed account.

Receipts can also be directly emailed from your inbox to your Shoeboxed account, used with Shoeboxed's custom plug-in to auto-import digital receipts from your Gmail inbox to your Shoeboxed account, or dragged and dropped into the cloud from your laptop or desktop.

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Skill #2. Organized

Good organizational skills are crucial when dealing with deadlines, working on multiple clients at once, trying to maintain updated financial records, or designating time to log daily financial transactions. They are also essential when following up with audits, tax prep, and maintaining paper trails with receipts. 

Good organizational skills will help you work more efficiently and increase productivity and performance.

How to get better at organization skills

The key to staying organized is to declutter and clean your desk and work area, create a detailed and easily accessible filing system, prioritize each task, generate a to-do list, and then input the tasks into a schedule and calendar.

How Shoeboxed can help with organization

Practical organization is essential for managing large volumes of financial documents, receipts, and records. Bookkeepers must be able to retrieve information quickly and efficiently.


Once receipts are uploaded, Shoeboxed automatically categorizes the data from the receipts into 15 tax or customized categories.

Shoeboxed organizes receipts and documents in a centralized digital repository. Bookkeepers can easily search and access documents, improving their efficiency and ensuring that all financial records are well-organized.

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Skill #3. Critical thinking

Bookkeepers usually have their critical thinking and analytical skills in overdrive. Critical thinking is necessary when identifying trends, interpreting data, identifying business transaction irregularities, and identifying patterns. 

It also comes in handy when determining the source of mistakes or figuring out how one account will affect another.

How to get better at critical thinking

The best way to master critical thinking is to break things down into smaller sections or steps. Smaller pieces of information or data are easier to work with, understand, and mentally deal with, but working with too much information at once can overwhelm you. 

Breaking things down into smaller sections or steps will lead you closer to a solution rather than spending so much time feeling overwhelmed.

How Shoeboxed can help

Bookkeepers must analyze financial data to identify trends, discrepancies, and opportunities for cost savings. Strong analytical skills are crucial for making informed financial decisions.

You can create comprehensive expense reports with just a few clicks.

Shoeboxed provides detailed expense reports and analytics, helping bookkeepers gain insights into spending patterns. 

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Skill #4. Time management

As a bookkeeper, it's important to pace yourself so that all tasks can be successfully completed in order to meet any deadlines. Missing deadlines can sometimes be costly if late fees are involved. 

Time management during the business accounting cycle is also essential when the company depends on reports to make critical business decisions. 

Also, if you promised a client something by a specific date, you should deliver as soon as possible.

How to get better at time management

Make a list of tasks to complete and prioritize each according to the due date. Be sure to add them to your calendar. This will establish your pace. You can monitor your progress often to ensure you stay on schedule with your projects. 

If you are not on schedule, you will know ahead of time that an adjustment of some type needs to be made to your time frame or your process of carrying out the work.

How Shoeboxed can help

Bookkeepers often handle multiple tasks and deadlines. Efficient time management is critical to ensure all financial processes are completed on time.

Shoeboxed integrates with Wave, Xero, and QuickBooks.

By automating the data entry process, Shoeboxed saves bookkeepers significant time. The software’s integration with accounting platforms like QuickBooks and Xero further streamlines workflows.

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Skill #5. Communication skills

Bookkeepers constantly communicate with their clients by presenting information, requesting documents, and discussing deadlines. They must be able to communicate in person and via electronic correspondence.

How to get better at communication skills

Listening is just as important as communicating. Be sure to take the time to listen to those you are communicating with to make them feel valued and that their concerns are being heard. 

Always think before you speak or send a message so that you're not responding emotionally. Be brief and specific so that you don't lose the listener's attention. Most importantly, be warm and friendly so that you always seem approachable.

How can Shoeboxed help

Effective communication is essential for bookkeepers to explain financial information to non-financial stakeholders and collaborate with other departments.

Shoeboxed’s clear and detailed reports facilitate better communication of financial information. Bookkeepers can generate comprehensive reports that are easy to understand, aiding in effective communication with stakeholders.

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Skill #6. Math skills

Bookkeepers need to be comfortable working with numbers, communicating numeric data, and reviewing financial reports and a company's financial transactions. 

They use simple calculations daily, such as addition, subtraction, division, percentages, and multiplication, since these basic math skills are necessary for balancing the books, finding errors, making adjustments, and generating financial statements.

How to get better at math skills

To develop basic math skills, you need to practice, practice, practice. Do a page or two out of a workbook every day, play numerical games, or take an online or in-person math class.

Skill #7. Technical proficiency

Bookkeepers must type information and numbers and record financial data into accounting software or forms. It's important that they can type accurately and quickly so they are efficient at what they do. This also means being comfortable with accounting software and updates.

How to get better at data entry and computer skills for bookkeeping

You can take advantage of online typing tools, which will provide opportunities for practicing and increasing your typing speed and accuracy. There are online videos that cover the basics of computer software data entry. Again, this is another case where practice and experience make perfect.

How Shoeboxed can help

Modern bookkeeping requires proficiency with accounting software and other digital tools. Bookkeepers need to be comfortable using technology to manage financial data.

Shoeboxed’s user-friendly interface and seamless integration with popular accounting software make it easy for bookkeepers to adopt and use. This enhances their technical proficiency and ensures they can manage financial data effectively.

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Skill #8. Competent and knowledgeable about bookkeeping basics

Professional bookkeepers must be knowledgeable about single-entry & double-entry bookkeeping, invoicing, accounts payable, accounts receivable, reconciling accounts, and basic accounting principles. They must also know how to prepare financial statements.

Earning certifications from organizations like the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers and the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers is important to demonstrate expertise to employers.

How to master the bookkeeping basics

Plenty of basic bookkeeping courses are offered at educational institutions and online that will help you master the requirements of a bookkeeper. Check out our mammoth list of bookkeeping resources for beginners!

Skill #9. Multitasking

Bookkeepers hardly ever just have one project they are working on. A successful bookkeeper typically juggles several different clients and bookkeeping tasks daily. Multitasking is a bookkeeping skill that saves time and money and increases productivity.

How to master multitasking

To enhance your multitasking and organization skills, always make a to-do list to keep track of the multiple tasks that need to be completed, then prioritize your tasks, group similar tasks together, reduce as many distractions as possible, and regularly monitor your progress to make sure you're staying on track and schedule.

Skill #10. Confidentiality

Quite often, bookkeepers will have access to sensitive and high-security details, such as access to bank accounts, etc. Therefore, a high degree of confidentiality must be maintained at all times. 

Bookkeepers must not disclose personal information about their clients or record financial data of previous clients to anyone except, as permitted by law. Bookkeepers need to gain and maintain the trust of their clients since they are working with susceptible and personal information.

How to master confidentiality

To maintain confidentiality, it's essential to maintain electronic and procedural safeguards that comply with federal regulations to guard your client's personal information. You can even enter a non-disclosure agreement with your clients to safeguard them legally,

Skill #11. Seeing the big picture

Bookkeepers should be able to get a good feel for how a decision, purchase, or payment made now will affect the finances of a business down the road or how a debit or credit will affect assets, equity, or liabilities. 

How to get better at seeing the big picture

You need to change your perspective. Ask yourself how doing something in the present will affect the business down the road. Instead of looking at all the details, consider all of the possibilities.

Skill #12. Collaborator

Working well with others is another bookkeeping skill that leads to success. Bookkeepers work closely with their clients to gather information, process it, and then review everything with the client.

How to get better at collaborating

Good collaborators are genuine, kind, transparent, and listen to understand. When you say you will do something, always follow through with the client so they know they can depend on you. Also, stay in touch with your clients, even if you check-in. Be accessible and always keep the lines of communication open.

Skill #13. Patience

Patience is a biggie when it involves bookkeepers working with large amounts of financial data alone, trying to find the source of a miscalculation, or even working with difficult clients. These things can make bookkeeping very frustrating at times.

How to get better at being patient

If the problem is with the work itself, take several breaks to clear your head. You can walk away from your work, clear your head, and then come back and approach the problem from a different perspective. 

If the issue is with clients, take deep breaths, stay calm, and always think before you speak to avoid reacting emotionally.

Skill #14. Reliable

Nowadays, it is so difficult to find reliable, professional, and dependable workers. Being reliable is a good way to build trust with your bookkeeping client and for them to know that you will take care of them and their needs.

How to get better at reliability

There's only one way to master this skill. If you say you're going to do something, then do it.

Skill #15. Good reputation

A strong reputation will almost always guarantee you a successful career. How you interact with your clients and your competency and confidence will help establish a good, stable reputation. 

Earning certifications from organizations like the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers can further enhance a bookkeeper's reputation. Then, clients will start sending referrals to you. Before you know it, you’re on your way to growing your business.

How to improve your reputation

Build a strong relationship with your client. Be friendly, competent, and empathetic. Make sure that you are reliable, trustworthy, and available. Also, be sure to follow that moral and ethical compass always.

Skill #16. Proactive

It’s much better and more cost-effective if a bookkeeper spends more time doing productive and expected monthly tasks for a client rather than putting out fires. 

Stay proactive so that you can either avoid potential bookkeeping red flags altogether or at least minimize the workload needed to fix the possible problem.

Another way to stay proactive is by continually updating your bookkeeping and accounting skills and staying knowledgeable about the accounting industry’s best practices. 

Staying updated with certifications from organizations like the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers can help bookkeepers stay proactive. Consider becoming a certified bookkeeper or taking a course on managing office operations, etc.

How to get better at proactiveness

If you want to be proactive, take the time to go over your client's financial information. Make the first move when it comes to scheduling client consultations. Look for any potential red flags or issues that a client could run into down the road. Staying on top of regulatory changes or future events that might impact your client's financial situation is a way of being proactive.

Skill #17. Positive attitude

A positive attitude will get you far. Clients would rather deal with someone upbeat, especially since bookkeeping and accounting can be tedious, boring, and the least exciting requirement for business owners. A positive attitude also makes you seem more genuine and approachable.

How to get better at positivity

Being pleasant and having a positive attitude prevents others from becoming defensive. Keep the tone light, simple, and upbeat to make the exchange and experience pleasant for the client.

Skill #18. Diligent and committed

Diligence and commitment will win you a lot of respect from your bookkeeping clients. Many bookkeepers avoid clients if the situation is too complex or don't always follow through with what is promised.

How to get better at the diligence and commitment

Always put your best foot forward, learn what you don't know, be consistent, and follow through. This will come across to clients as you have their best interests at heart and are always working hard to maintain that work ethic and relationship.

Frequently asked questions

What are the essential skills required for a successful bookkeeper?

To be successful, a bookkeeper must possess a diverse set of skills that ensure accuracy, efficiency, and compliance with financial regulations. 

Key skills include:

  • Attention to detail: Ensuring all financial transactions are recorded accurately to avoid errors.

  • Organizational skills: Managing and organizing large volumes of financial documents and records efficiently.

  • Time management: Prioritizing tasks and managing time effectively to meet deadlines.

  • Technical proficiency: Being comfortable with accounting software and other digital tools used in bookkeeping.

  • Analytical skills: Analyzing financial data to identify trends, discrepancies, and opportunities for cost savings.

  • Communication skills: Explaining financial information clearly to non-financial stakeholders and collaborating with other departments.

How can technology, like Shoeboxed, enhance a bookkeeper’s efficiency?

Technology plays a significant role in enhancing a bookkeeper's efficiency by automating repetitive tasks and improving accuracy. Shoeboxed, for example, offers several features that can streamline bookkeeping processes:

  • Automated receipt management: Shoeboxed allows bookkeepers to digitize receipts through photos, email, or mail-in options, reducing the need for manual data entry and ensuring all expenses are captured in real-time.

  • Expense organization and categorization: Automatically categorizes expenses and stores them in a centralized digital repository, making it easy to retrieve and manage financial documents.

  • Integration with accounting software: Seamlessly integrates with popular accounting platforms like QuickBooks and Xero, ensuring that financial data is accurately synchronized and reducing the potential for errors.

  • Time savings: By automating data entry and expense tracking, Shoeboxed saves significant time for bookkeepers, allowing them to focus on more strategic tasks such as financial analysis and planning.

In conclusion

Some of these skills relate to bookkeeping, and some are personality traits. The goal should be to have relevant skills that are constantly evolving as a person and professional. 

While you may not perfect all these bookkeeping skills, you can at least develop and enhance them to some degree, which still puts you on a better path to a successful career as a bookkeeper.

Shoeboxed significantly enhances key bookkeeping skills by automating and streamlining many of the tedious tasks associated with managing financial documents. Its features support bookkeepers in maintaining accuracy, organization, and efficiency, ultimately allowing them to focus on higher-level financial analysis and strategy.

Caryl Ramsey has years of experience assisting in different aspects of bookkeeping, taxes, and customer service. She uses a variety of accounting software for setting up client information, reconciling accounts, coding expenses, running financial reports, and preparing tax returns. She is also experienced in setting up corporations with the State Corporation Commission and the IRS.

About Shoeboxed!

Shoeboxed is a receipt scanning service with receipt management software that supports multiple methods for receipt capture: send, scan, upload, forward, and more!

You can stuff your receipts into one of our Magic Envelopes (prepaid postage within the US). Use our receipt tracker + receipt scanner app (iPhone, iPad and Android) to snap a picture while on the go. Auto-import receipts from Gmail. Or forward a receipt to your designated Shoeboxed email address.

Turn your receipts into data and deductibles with our expense reports that include IRS-accepted receipt images.

Join over 1 million businesses scanning & organizing receipts, creating expense reports and more—with Shoeboxed.

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