Whether you are running your own business, wanting to develop skills for a career as a bookkeeper, or wanting to support your family business, having an understanding of a business’ finances is essential. Even when using finance software such as Sage or Quickbooks, an understanding of the methods and processes of bookkeeping will give you confidence and more importantly the know-how to identify mistakes. 

Accurate and up to date financial records will tell you:

  • how much your business is earning.
  • how much your business is owed.
  • how much  your business is spending.
  • how much your business owes.

What is bookkeeping?

Bookkeeping is the process of recording and balancing financial income and expenditure to provide a true and fair view of a business’ performance and its financial position at any time and at the end of a financial period.  Through NEC’s ICB Level 2 Certificate in Bookkeeping course, you will learn the principles of double-entry bookkeeping; posting financial transactions into the correct ledger from source documents; handling bank and cash records and reconciling bank statements; understanding and calculating VAT transactions; producing a trial balance to identify and correct errors, end of period reporting, and using computerised accounting software.

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A tutor’s story

When I started running my own hotel business, the bookkeeping skills that I had learnt at college were invaluable in helping me to understand how well the business was performing. Keeping ‘the books’ meant systematically recording, in the appropriate ledger, the money coming in from sales invoices and bills, as well as the money going out from purchase receipts or invoices on a regular basis. I was able to see how much I owed my suppliers and how much money my customers owed me. By checking my bank statement each month against my own records, I could see any payments made or received that had not yet been processed by the bank and identify any mistakes in my record keeping. 

At the end of the financial year, such record keeping was necessary to provide the financial information my accountant needed to prepare the business’ financial statements for legal and taxation purposes, but throughout the year, it enabled me to:

  • make decisions about the hotel’s operations.
  • control day to day tasks and activities.
  • operate on a profitable basis.
  • track the flow of cash coming in and going out of the business. 
  • plan for the future.

Not only did this information help me to evaluate the success of my business decisions, or otherwise, but it also supplied me with the necessary information to meet my business’ legal obligations, as well as satisfying the needs of other organisations, such as the bank, when I was looking for further investment or loans to grow my business.The book keeping course I did at college was the best investment ever. 

I’m interested in bookkeeping but I don’t know if my maths is good enough

Being really good at maths is not essential – being methodical and paying attention to detail are far more important skills to have.

If you find that you would benefit from a maths course before diving into bookkeeping, NEC also offers an Introduction to Maths, Functional Skills Maths and GCSE Maths. To learn more, please visit the course pages or call our Course Advice Team on 0800 389 2839 or email on info@nec.ac.uk.

How is bookkeeping done differently in the digital age?

Nowadays, the handwritten processes of maintaining the ‘books’ are often replaced by electronic accounting software which automatically generates the double-entry of any transaction in the appropriate ledger. Using computerised systems also eliminates the errors that occur in hand-written, manual systems resulting in less time needed to check for mistakes. There are a number of different accounting software systems available but the general principle of operation remains the same in each. Having an understanding of the bookkeeping process will help you to troubleshoot when issues arise and to double-check your own figures.

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In summary, bookkeeping is the first stage of the accounting process. The ICB Level 2 Certificate in Bookkeeping course with NEC will provide you with the necessary skills if you:

  • Run your own business and want to manage your own accounts more effectively.
  • Want to develop skills to work in the accounting department of a business or firm of accountants.
  • Provide a service to other businesses as a self-employed bookkeeper.
  • Commence a career in financial services to ultimately become a qualified accountant, financial supervisor, analyst or finance manager.

What can I do with ICB Level 2 Certificate in Bookkeeping?

Skilled bookkeepers are vital to accounting departments in all sectors, so as well as allowing you to work as a self-employed bookkeeper or helping you run your own business finances, this qualification is the vital first step in your career in finance to become a qualified accountant, a financial supervisor, analyst or manager.

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Why choose NEC?

Our fully online course opens up the world of bookkeeping in an engaging and digestible way, offering interactive activities and points of evaluation throughout so you can track your own progress. Study from home at a pace that suits you and your other commitments, and benefit from tutor marked assignments and a course developed by experts specifically for NEC’s learning platform.

Click here to find out more about the course and how to enrol.


Sarah Pamphilion is passionate about the value of learning and dedicated to the profession, having worked in education for over 27 years as a tutor, assessor and manager of vocational training. She understands the challenges of distance learning having been a distance learner herself and knows the value of good quality, responsive and flexible tutor support and encouragement. Now as a freelance contractor, Sarah works with a number of awarding bodies, colleges and training providers to develop learning resources to enable learners to meet their qualification goals and longer-term career aims. Sarah tutors on our CMI management courses and the ICB Level 2 Certificate in Bookkeeping course.

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