It is important to appreciate that it is not now, or is it expected to be in the future, compulsory for a bookkeeper to join a professional association.
There however a number of good reasons to join a Bookkeeper Association, including moral support, recognition, status, networking, lobbying and technical support - including publications, templates, technical advice, seminars and professional development.
Furthermore if you belong to a Recognised BAS Agent Association you may only have to undertake 1,000 hours of relevant experience (in the three years preceding registration) compared with 1,400 if you do not belong.
However perhaps the most important reason is that it will give your prospective clients more confidence in your experience and ability.
Associations for Bookkeepers
There are four organisations that offer memberships for bookkeepers, two of them are not-for-profit' (NFP) associations and the two are 'fee-for-service' (FFS) organisations. All four organisations were represented on the ATO BAS Agent Advisory Group (BASAAG) which focuses on providing input to shape the design and build of administrative interactions between bookkeepers and the Tax Office. The four organisations are:
| Association|| Type || Annual fee ||Entrance requirements |
| ABN ||Australian Bookkeepers Network ||FFS ||$462 ||NONE |
| ICB ||Institute of Certified Bookkeepers ||NFP ||$360 (employed bookkeeper)|
$480 (practicing contract bookkeeper)
|ICB Level I, Level II and Level III exams or a Certificate IV in Bookkeeping and a statement of experience from a client, employer or accountant and a copy of your CV |
| AAT ||Association of Accounting Technicians ||NFP ||$250 + $132 joining fee ||Certificate IV in Bookkeeping or (Accounting) and a reference to support 1 years work experience|
ABN — Australian Bookkeepers Network
The Australian Bookkeepers Network (ABN) helps bookkeepers build bigger and better businesses by providing them with the right support, tools and resources. ABN has served the bookkeeping industry since 2001 and in that time has grown to become Australia’s largest private representative body for self-employed and contract bookkeepers.
ABN is very different to not-for-profit bookkeeping associations. They are a private organisation with a focus on providing bookkeepers with commercial solutions and value-for-money resources and support, whereas associations typically have their prime focus on professional standards and ethics, and representation to government.
BIA believes that this ongoing partnership with ABN will strengthen both organisations and will be of considerable benefit to new bookkeepers entering the industry.
ICB — Institute of Certified Bookkeepers
The Institute of Certified Bookkeepers is the largest bookkeeping institute in the world. It promotes and maintains the standards of bookkeeping as a profession, through the establishment of a series of qualifications that are relevant to the needs of business and it awards levels of membership that reward academic attainment, working experience and competence.
In Australia, the ICB provides bookeepers with the co-operative forum to be the best they can be. It is about bookkeepers: Bookkeepers helping bookkeepers help business.The ICB aims to bring certainty to the bookkeeping profession and all involved and affected by it. It answers the questions: What does a bookkeeper do? How skilled is this bookkeeper? How do I prove my bookkeeping skills? How do I improve my bookkeeping skills? How do I do bookkeeping better? What are the benefits of being part of a professional organisation for bookkeepers?
Matthew Addison (ICB Australia\'s Executive Director) states: "The Institute of Certified Bookkeepers brings a certainty to the developing bookkeeping industry. Accountants, businesses and government seem to be looking for a structure to understand bookkeeping and the competence of bookkeepers. ICB will accredit, assist and inform bookkeepers and the community thereby increasing the structure and definition of the industry. ICB is a member based, not for profit, professional association: bookkeepers helping bookkeepers."
BIA supports ICB and recommends that all bookkeepers who wish to belong to a professional not-for-profit association join ICB. All BIA students are entitled to join ICB as a student member at a discounted fee.
AAT — Association of Accounting Technicians
The Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) Australia is the country’s largest paraprofessional body in the accounting /finance/bookkeeping sector and is the only association that has the support of the three professional bodies in CPA Australia, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia and the Institute of Public Accountants.
AAT Australia membership provides a commitment to high standards, professionalism, recognition and status for paraprofessional accounting technicians including self employed bookkeepers; payroll officers; BAS Agents; assistant accountants, accounts payable/receivable officers and other accounting support staff.”