Businesses need bookkeepers — even during a recession

Bookkeeping is a valuable tool during any type of economy, even a downturn.

“Many small businesses start up in a recession,” said Joan Shumaker, president and owner of Computer Training Resources and an advanced QuickBooks Pro advisor. “People who are working full time, but concerned about job security, will start a business on the side. Other workers have taken early retirement and see it as their next career move, while some keep multiple businesses going, not wanting all their income streams in one basket.”

All those small businesses, as well as the accounting departments of large corporations, create opportunities for people who have bookkeeping skills.

“Companies may cut back elsewhere in their operations, but they have to stay on top of their accounting. It’s a very viable and rewarding way for people to earn a living,” Shumaker said.

Not only are there legal and financial reasons for good bookkeeping, but a good accounting system can help entrepreneurs improve their business plans.

“From a profit-and-loss statement, he may learn that a product is selling, but it’s costing him too much to make it. That may lead to renegotiating with a vendor for a better deal,” Shumaker said.

Southern Polytechnic State University in Marietta is launching a Basic Bookkeeping Using QuickBooks certificate program this month. The four-week course was designed to help people gain the required skills to find bookkeeping jobs.

Bookkeeping is one of the fastest-growing occupations in the country, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and is expected to generate 212,400 new jobs between 2008 and 2018.

“If you are someone who values accuracy, pays close attention to detail and knows how to ask clients the right questions to get good accounting information, this could be a good employment opportunity for you,” Shumaker said.

The program will run on four Fridays (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.) from April 9 to April 30. The $850 fee includes a 700-page manual and a 140-day trial classroom edition of QuickBooks. There are still spots available for the April course, and the university will offer the program again in June.

“The first day we’ll cover Basic Accounting Principles 101, financial terminology and what information a bookkeeper needs to track,” Shumaker said. “They’ll also get an overview of all the QuickBooks screens and learn how to use them.”

Over the course of the program, students learn to navigate QuickBooks to track sales, record receipts, make deposits, create invoices, record statement of charges and accept credit cards and check payments. They also learn how to generate reports that QuickBooks builds into the system.

Once students know how to work with files, they learn to set up and customize accounts for individual companies and different industries, and how to manage inventory, pay sales tax and create a payroll system. The course also addresses budgeting and forecasting.

“Throughout the course we’ll be taking a peek under the hood of QuickBooks to see why it makes the calculations it does. That’s something that someone wouldn’t get from learning the program on his own,” Shumaker said.

Having provided accounting services for many businesses, Shumaker offers advice from the field, as well as resources to help students start bookkeeping businesses.

Novices can expect to earn about $15 an hour. Experienced bookkeepers, however, average $25 to $35 per hour.

“Having this certificate will help people market their skills to potential clients,” she said. “I’ve always loved working with small businesses. You get to know people on a very personal level, and it’s rewarding to know that you’re helping them.”

To learn more, call 678-915-7240 or go to http://oce.spsu.edu.

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