One of the most important considerations if you’re interested in becoming a bookkeeper is how much you can make per hour as a bookkeeper. We get it — you need to know if this is going to help you meet your financial goals! Hourly rates for bookkeepers vary by location, education, experience, type of service, and more. We’re going to break down all of those factors to help you decide if bookkeeping is the right online business for you.
How Much Do Bookkeepers Charge?
The average hourly rate for bookkeepers in the U.S. is $20 per hour, according to Salary.com. The range swings from $18 to $25 per hour, and there’s a lot of room for growth beyond the $25/hour figure.
You’ll see variations of that range across the internet, with Indeed.com reporting a range of $15 to $30 per hour. And self-employed bookkeepers make an average of $38/hour, according to ZipRecruiter.
The reason for the variation is like any other type of freelance service or job — a number of factors influence your rates, from your location to the type of services you offer business owners.
Factors Influencing Hourly Rates for Bookkeepers
There are eight key factors that affect hourly rates for bookkeepers: location, self-employed or not, education, certification, experience, types of services, software, and frequency of services. Let’s take a look at each of these factors so you can get a better idea of how much you can charge for your bookkeeping services.
While many self-employed bookkeepers work remotely, if you’re providing services locally, hourly rates vary state-by-state. States like Massachusetts and Washington have the highest hourly rates for bookkeepers at $40+/hour. The states with the lowest hourly rates for bookkeepers are Louisiana and Georgia, at $26 to $28/hour.
Here’s what self-employed bookkeepers average per hour across the U.S.:
2. Self-Employed Bookkeeper or Not
Whether or not you’re self-employed is a major factor in how much you make as a bookkeeper. For W2 workers, the average hourly rates are closer to $20/hour, while self-employed bookkeepers earn closer to $30/hour.
Here’s the reason for that difference:
- Self-employed bookkeepers set their own rates and can tailor their services to their client’s needs. It’s also worth mentioning that your rates need to account for self-employment expenses, like taxes, software, etc.
- Traditionally employed bookkeepers have their pay determined by the company they work for, and the upside is that your employer might offer benefits.
3. Level of Education
Let’s get this straight: You don’t need a degree or certification to work as a bookkeeper. An associate’s degree can help you attract clients, but it’s not necessary at all. Being well-trained in software and capable of offering high-value services to your clients is far more important.
If you want to work for a company and enter at a higher pay level, a degree can help; however, if you’re going the self-employed route, it’s much easier to break into the business at a higher rate without the cost and time associated with a degree program.
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Two organizations offer bookkeeping certifications: the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers (NACPB) and the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB). While not all bookkeeping jobs require certification, there are benefits:
- Credibility: The 2,000 to 3,000 hours of work required for certification establish your credibility.
- Job security: A certification elevates your resume because it shows employers that you’re capable of performing bookkeeping tasks.
- Career development: Certifications can enhance your skills.
- Increases salary potential: Having a certification tells potential employers and clients that your skills are more valuable than a non-certified bookkeeper.
It’s worth mentioning that you have to start working as a bookkeeper before you can apply for certification programs, and as we said, you need at least 2,000 to 3,000 hours to qualify.
Like so many jobs, experience influences hourly rates for bookkeepers. New bookkeepers will enter at a lower rate than those with years of experience under their belt. According to Indeed.com, entry-level bookkeepers make an average of $18.34 per hour.
It’s also true that experience in higher-paying bookkeeping services (more on this shortly!) affects your pay.
6. Types of Bookkeeping Services
Not all bookkeepers are equal in the types of services they offer, and this is often a major factor in how much you make per hour. The basic services are maintaining accounts payable and receivable, reconciling bank and credit card accounts, and generating monthly financial reports.
Depending on the type of industry and your income goals, you can offer full-charge services, including payroll, managing fixed assets, and contributing to advisory conversations. Your value also rises when you’re better at customer service and data accuracy, finding holes, and asking good questions. This all lends to increased compensation most of the time.
In general, the more specialized your skills are and better service you offer, the more you can earn because you’re becoming an expert in your field.
7. Accounting Software
These days, all bookkeepers need to be familiar with various accounting software, and cloud-based software is the most popular option. Here’s some of the best small business accounting software:
8. Frequency of Service
When you’re setting your hourly rates, you have to think about the frequency of service for each of your clients. Some clients require more frequent attention than others, and there are even certain times of the year that might be busier than others for your clients. Generally, you’ll charge a lower rate for clients you see more often.
Most bookkeeping clients will fall into one of the following frequency categories:
- One-time: These clients might hire you to set up their accounting software or company files. This is more common for new business owners. Most bookkeepers charge higher hourly rates for one-time clients.
- Monthly: Clients who hire you for monthly bookkeeping services are often looking for payroll services, and many bookkeepers charge their monthly clients a retainer fee, so they’re available every month. Monthly clients often pay lower rates because you see them more frequently.
- Quarterly: This kind of client might have you helping with estimated quarterly taxes or payroll returns. It’s one of the most common client types, and most bookkeepers charge similar hourly rates based on frequency.
- Annual: These bookkeeping clients often hire you to help them prepare their tax returns, which can be a time-consuming process. Because this is a once-a-year service, you’d charge similar hourly rates to your one-time clients.
Hourly Rates for Bookkeepers | The Final Word
Not all bookkeepers earn the same hourly rate because there are so many factors that determine what you charge, but one thing is true: self-employed bookkeepers generally earn more than those who are employed by a company. Self-employed bookkeepers earn an average of $38/hour compared to the $25/hour average companies pay bookkeepers.
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For even more flexible remote jobs, check out: Best Online Money Making Jobs (Make $1,000 to $5,000+/Month!).
Depending on your experience and skills, you can charge between $15 to $30/hour as a remote, beginner bookkeeper.
The average hourly rate for a Quickbooks bookkeeper is around $18 to $25/hour.