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Bookkeepers compute, classify, and verify monetary transactions in order to develop and maintain financial records. They keep a systematic record of financial transactions by keeping different sets of accounting books.

Bookkeepers keep records of the credits owed to the company and the debts of the company. They record debits and credits, compare current and past balance sheets, summarize details of separate ledgers and prepare reports for supervisors and managers. They may also prepare bank deposits and send cash, cheques, and other forms of payment to the bank. Every month they prepare statements regarding the money owed to the company. The final statement is sent through to the client.

When bookkeepers receive cash they write a receipt in duplicate, one for the company and one for the client. A record is kept of the daily balance and this balance is reconciled monthly and then annually. In smaller organizations bookkeepers handle all aspects of financial transactions.

The increased use of computers has allowed the use of specialized accounting software on personal computers.

Work settings vary widely. Bookkeepers may have their own offices or may work in offices with many other employees. The actual settings in which they operate will depend on the type, size, location and financial resources of the various employers. Offices are, however, usually convenient and equipped with modern aids such as calculators, bookkeeping machines and computers. Bookkeepers work normal office hours but they may be required to work overtime when balance sheets are drawn up.

Areas of specialization and advancement positions include:

Credit Controller
Debit Controller
Stores Controller
Head Bookkeeper
Office Manager

Satisfying Aspects
- working with figures
- good employment and opportunities to learn about business
- easily obtainable and inexpensive training
- working with people

Demanding aspects
- sitting in one place for hours
- performing routine and detailed duties
- working under supervision
- eyestrain and exhaustion as a result of hours of concentration

Bookkeepers should:
- be accurate, careful and neat worker
- be able to concentrate and work well under pressure
- enjoy working with figures and be figure orientated
- be able to perform routine arithmetical calculations correctly
- have interest in and an aptitude for bookkeeping
- be trustworthy, dependable and honest
- be able to get along well with others
- be able to deal with clients in a friendly way

School Subjects
Entry requirements differ from one course to another, so check the requirements of the courses in which you are interested. A National Senior Certificate is usually required, as is the case at universities of technology for National Diplomas. The Institute for Certified Bookkeepers (ICB) requires a Grade 10 Certificate whereas other professional institutions require a National Senior Certificate.

National Senior Certificate for a diploma course

Compulsory Subjects: None
Recommended Subjects: Mathematics, Accounting, Economics

The Institute for Certified Bookkeepers offers 3 examinations: the Certificate, Associate and Fellowship (for fellowship members of the Institute) examinations. To enable candidates to become Associate members, the Institute requires that the applicants register as students of the Institute and then write and pass the subjects required for the Certificate level before proceeding with the Associate subjects. Once these 8 subjects (4 at each level) have been written and passed, the candidates may accept Associate Membership and use the designation AICB (SA) (Associate Institute of Certified Bookkeepers). Only those Associate members who are in good standing may continue to write the Fellowship examinations. (This level is not compulsory). Once the four subjects have been written and passed at this level, Associate members can accept Fellow Membership of the Institute and use the designation FICB (SA) (Fellow of the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers).

Degree: A BCom (Acc) degree is presented by most universities. The different universities should be contacted for admission requirements.

Diploma: The N.Dip. Commercial Education is presented by the following universities of technology: UNISA, DUT, UJ, CPUT, TUT, VUT, CUT, NMMU. They should be contacted for admission requirements. Certificate courses are offered at most FET colleges, eg. Northlink, South Cape.

Accounting Institutes: There are a fair number of other Accounting Institutes in South Africa offering various Accounting qualifications.

Representative Council of Accountants (RCA): The RCA is a new body representing all professional accounting bodies in South Africa. All persons wanting to be registered as bookkeepers, accounting officers, accountants or chartered accountants doing the attest function are required to be registered with an accounting body, as well as register with the RCA. The accounting structure in South Africa has been divided into four particular Tiers representing the four levels of bookkeepers and accountants in South Africa.

The public service provides in-service training in financial administration.

- public, provincial and municipal services
- commerce and industry
- educational institutions
- professional and research bodies.
- wholesale firms
- retail stores
- factories
- banks and insurance companies
- health care units
- local authorities
- government departments
- self-employment, in private or part-time practices

Institute of Certified Bookkeepers       
P O Box 2237
Cape Town, 8000
Tel: (021) 685-2746 Fax: (021) 686-4083