If you’ve been poring over the company books in a windowless cubicle lately, or pondering the idea of freelancing in accounting or bookkeeping, you may be wondering, can accountants work from home?
The answer is yes! Accountants and bookkeepers can — and do — work from their home offices worldwide.
Not that long ago, accounting involved big boxes full of paperwork, a fusty office, and rows of grey filing cabinets. But now, cloud computing, advanced financial software and video conferencing have taken much of the work online.
Those facts alone make it so much easier to ditch the office and apply for remote accounting jobs — or set up your own freelance bookkeeping business at home.
- Online Financial Jobs
- Where To Find Work From Home Accounting Jobs
- Can Accountants Work From Home In Their Own Business?
- Online Accounting Courses
- While You’re Here
Online Financial Jobs
If you’re not already working in the accounting field, you may be wondering what accountants and bookkeepers do. Let’s take a look.
You need a bachelor’s degree or even a master’s degree to become a fully-fledged accountant, and to pass the CPA exam to be a certified public accountant. Looking towards the long term you’ll need even more study and experience to become a Chartered Accountant.
Accountants inspect and look after financial and tax records for their clients. Some of their tasks include:
- Preparing financial statements.
- Forecasting and checking budgets.
- Advising on tax issues.
- Reviewing cash flows and accounting procedures.
- Analyzing financial performance and assisting with strategic financial planning.
Other accountants diversify into specialist fields. You could become an auditor, a financial analyst, a forensic accountant or even a CFO (Chief Financial Officer.) Tax accountants are in hot demand, particularly towards the end of the financial year.
There are various ways to become an accounting technician. You could take a college or online course, learn through an apprenticeship or join a firm as a junior and gain experience that way.
In the US, you’ll need at least a high school diploma. In the UK, it could be useful to have a Level Two Foundation Certificate in Accounting from the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT.)
Accounting technicians do the legwork for certified public accountants and CAs. They’re the people who sort out the financial statements, payroll and budget prep work when they come in from their clients, and prepare the reports for the accountant to analyze.
Bookkeepers are the people on the ground. They can work with one business or have many small business and solopreneur clients.
Their core duties include data entry, recording financial transactions, balancing the books, bank reconciliation, and preparing monthly reports. They may file taxes and assist with the end-of-year profit and loss statements.
Bookkeepers also keep track of accounts payable and receivable and may take care of your payroll. An efficient bookkeeper is invaluable to small businesses because they keep the books in order and liaise on their behalf with the accounting technicians. That frees their clients up to get on with the business of serving customers.
According to Indeed, an accountant’s average base salary in the US starts at $55,851 and can range up to $98,000.
A US accounting technician usually averages $47,842 per year but can range up to $80,000 in some top companies.
In the United Kingdom, Payscale reports that the average base salary for an accountant starts at ₤29,706. However, an experienced accountant can earn ₤50,000 per year with bonuses, commissions etc.
According to the same source, a UK accounting technician averages around ₤20,511 per year and rises to ₤29,000.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that Bookkeepers make around $42,000 per year ($20.39 per hour) in the US, but salaries vary depending on experience and education. The average UK base salary for bookkeepers is ₤23,540.
Where To Find Work From Home Accounting Jobs
Accountants and bookkeepers often start off their career paths with accounting firms to gain experience in the field.
However, if you have the education and experience, you may be tired of office politics and the long daily commute. That’s when you start looking for home jobs and accounting firms that hire remote workers.
We searched through FlexJobs to pick out six of the best. These firms often have multiple job postings for certified public accountants, technicians and bookkeepers.
Firms that hire remote accountants and bookkeepers
If you’re looking for an exciting, challenging accounting career, Aston Carter could fit the bill. They offer 91% Remote Work options to their staffers in more than 60 offices worldwide.
The company describes itself as an Equal Opportunity Employer committed to delivering first-class service to its clients.
Kforce is an American company that builds and manages elite financial and accounting teams for its clients.
Many of their positions are remote or flexible. Over the years, the company has received many awards for excellence in business and employee accolades, including Fit-Friendly Workplace and Best Place to Work in Connecticut.
Lincoln’s main goal is working with customers to achieve retirement income security. Its core business is in life insurance, individual and group retirement plans.
This Fortune 500 company is 100% remote. It offers career opportunities in accounting and finance as well as account management, IT and insurance.
Summit is an accounting firm offering customized services to small businesses. These include accounting, bookkeeping and tax services. Although the company is based in Indiana, most of its clients are out-of-state and served virtually.
The company is 100% remote and believes that “remote workers tend to work more independently, with less reliance on co-workers.” Because they’re fully remote, they can hire remote workers from most parts of the US.
Founded in 1948, Robert Half International is a global staffing and consulting firm recognized among FlexJobs’ 100 Top Companies with Remote Jobs. It’s also been ranked among the 50 Happiest Companies in America by CareerBliss.
Robert Half Talent Solutions offers jobs across many fields, including accounting and finance, and has divisions in more than 400 global locations.
Supporting Strategies is another job offering 100% remote positions. The company is an outsourced bookkeeping and operational support firm with over 95 offices across the US. It specializes in providing accounting services such as accounts payable, expense management, payroll, financial reporting and more to small businesses throughout the US.
You may also want to check out the finance jobs section of our massive article on 125 companies that hire home workers.
Rather than work for a single company from home, you might prefer to become a freelance accountant or bookkeeper. Since the advent of fast internet and excellent accounting software, it’s easy to create service bundles and advertise yourself as a freelance expert.
There are several places you can start your job search as a home accountant or bookkeeper.
Your first steps could be to bid for clients on various international job boards such as Upwork or Fiverr. There are also specialist platforms, such as Graphite and Paro, which connect clients and expert accountants.
It’s a good idea to seek referrals from people you’ve worked for in the past. In fact, many home accountants and bookkeepers make a good living by only working through referrals.
Can Accountants Work From Home In Their Own Business?
Yes, many accountants and bookkeepers set up their own firm at home. And, of course, there are many things to consider when you take that step.
Be aware that you’ll need to set up a dedicated home office, so you’ll probably have to sacrifice a room in your house or build an office in the yard.
It can be hard to keep the family out of your office if you’re inside, so you’ll need to set some boundaries for them — and for yourself.
Make sure you keep office hours and resist the temptation to work when you should be with your family or taking time out. Working from home is all about developing the perfect work-life balance, but you do have to be vigilant about that.
- Invest in a decent laptop and your preferred accounting or bookkeeping software.
- Get comfortable using video conferencing – you’ll want to have some face-to-face meetings with your clients.
- Make sure you have a decent phone, so you can contact clients when you need to make a quick query.
You can’t be all things to all people, so most bookkeepers and accountants specialize somehow. Working in a particular niche can be a great way to keep your workload under control and find the sorts of clients you want to work with.
- Auditing schools and educational institutions.
- Becoming a treasurer to non-profit organizations.
- Offering tax advice for small business owners.
- Bookkeeping services for solopreneurs.
- Bookkeeping and payroll for small businesses.
So, decide what you’re good at and who you want to serve, then structure your packages accordingly.
Prices and Costs
It can be tricky to know how much to charge.
Work out your costs (including sorting your home office, power, internet charges, tax, your time etc.)
If possible, discover what other people in your niche are charging.
Think about your level of experience and expertise, too. A chartered accountant with 20 years’ experience can charge more than a bookkeeper with two years under their belt.
Then, decide whether you’ll charge an hourly rate or offer a set price per package.
All these factors and more can influence the prices you charge.
Online Accounting Courses
So, how can you become an accountant or bookkeeper and work from home?
If you need to upskill, consider taking an online course. We’ve found eight interesting options for beginners or intermediate-level students.
Introduction to Finance and Accounting Specialization Coursera, Beginner Level, University of Pennsylvania (4.4☆ rating)
This course is designed to help you build a foundation of core business skills and learn the basics of finance and accounting. It covers many areas, including accrual accounting, cash flow analysis, elements of a basic financial model and more.
Intuit Bookkeeping Professional Certificate Coursera, Beginner Level, (4.4☆ rating)
Build a foundation of basic bookkeeping concepts, including the double-entry bookkeeping system, bank reconciliations, accounting concepts & measurement, and how to use accounting software.
The course aims to prepare you for various bookkeeping jobs in public, private and non-profit organizations and prepares you for the Intuit Certified Bookkeeping Professional exam.
Financial Reporting Specialization Coursera, Intermediate Level, University of Illinois (4.7☆ rating)
Learn the role of financial accounting principles and processes in creating, analyzing and reporting financial statements.
It includes multiple projects and practice activities and a complete case analysis of a real company’s financial statements.
Online Masters of Accounting Coursera, Intermediate-Advanced Level, Gies College of Business
If you’re serious about accounting and want to gain an accredited diploma from the University of Illinois, this fully online course could be the way forward.
It takes 2-3 years to complete the entire course, designed to be a versatile degree covering core accounting, analytics and elective studies. You’ll learn through pre-recorded lectures, live classes, further reading and hands-on projects.
Accounting, Bookkeeping & Financial Analysis Concepts Udemy, Beginner Level, Calvin Lee CPA, CA, MBA, (4.8☆ rating)
If you don’t know where to begin with accounting, this course could get you started. It covers such fundamentals as reading a Balance Sheet, Profit & Loss Statement, a Cash Flow statement and much more.
The course includes a certificate of completion and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Develop Your Finance and Accounting Skills Learning Path LinkedIn Learning, Beginner Level
This learning path includes seven foundational courses in Accounting, Financial Accounting, Business and Income Taxes, Corporate Financial Statement Analysis and more.
It has over 13 hours of content and comes with a Certificate of Completion to showcase on your LinkedIn profile.
Become a Bookkeeper Learning Path LinkedIn Learning, Beginner Level
The makers of Finance and Accounting also bring you a second path to help you master the fundamentals of bookkeeping. You’ll learn to create sample company files and records in QuickBooks and how to run a profitable business.
MicroMasters Program in Accounting Edx, Intermediate Level, Indiana University
This 9-month micromasters program is 30% of the online Master of Science in Accounting coursework. It’s designed for people who want to “substantially enhance their understanding of accounting” and includes study in financial and managerial accounting and income taxes.
Home jobs allow flexibility and freedom. They can save you a lot in commuting time and costs, and you may even get some tax breaks out of it. But they’re not all beer and skittles.
You’ll have busy times — such as tax season when you’re likely to be run off your feet — and downtimes when you wonder where your next client’s coming from.
You may even occasionally miss the busy office atmosphere and chats around the water cooler.
But remote jobs are fast becoming the norm, and freelancing can free you up to attend your kids’ school functions or take a week away from the office without having to check with HR first.
So, if that question — can accountants work from home — has ever crossed your mind, maybe now’s the time to act.
While You’re Here
With a name like HomeWorkingClub, you can bet that we’ve got all the latest info on how to go about freelancing and working from home in our archives.
If you’re exploring your options, our Introduction to Freelancing podcast episode is the perfect place to go.
Finally, this guide on the 44 best apps for freelancers offers some excellent advice on making the most of your time by using technology to help.
Lyn is the author of Culture Smart NZ (2022). A freelance writer and blogger from New Zealand, she specialises in content for lifestyle magazines, blogs, podcasts and virtual summits. You’ll find her blog on writing, farm life & talented New Zealanders at lynmcnamee.com