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Freelance Accountant: Job Description, Income & Salary, & How To Become

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Are you struggling to find joy in your 9-5?

Do you want to use your business or accounting degree for yourself?

You could have unlimited income potential by becoming a freelance accountant.

You’re not alone!

Freelancing is a very lucrative career option for many accountants.

Freelance accountants often work with small businesses that do not want full-time staff accountants.

They are responsible for managing, examining, and tracking money outflows and inflows of their clients.

With flexible work hours, you’ll be able to serve customers across the country.

What Is a Freelance Accountant?

A freelance accountant is an accounting professional who provides services directly to their portfolio of clients rather than working for an accountancy firm or other business.

Services offered by freelance accountants include managing payroll, submitting tax returns, and providing input and financial advice for business plans.

As a freelancer, you will be responsible for securing new clients, billing them, and performing your own accounting tasks.

Though you may have done all of these tasks as a regularly-employed accountant, it can be difficult to navigate freelancing in the same way.

If you are going to work among popular freelance jobs, you must know how to run a business.

What Does a Freelance Accountant Do?

Freelance accountants help businesses with their finances.

This type of work is often done remotely and requires a high level of accuracy, attention to detail, and knowledge of accounting principles and laws.

Freelance accountants may work with a large company with many employees or a small business with only a few people that just needs some financial help.

Qualifications for a freelance accountant typically include a bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance, economics, or a related field as well as relevant experience in the financial services industry.

What Does a Freelance Accountant Usually Focus On?

Freelance accountants focus on whatever a business needs them to focus on.

This is typically financial statements and bookkeeping, but freelance accountants can also help businesses make critical financial decisions.

Those that specialize in tax accounting can advise business owners on specific expenses, such as tax deductions for a home office.

They can also manage tasks such as supplier payments, record sales, and send invoices.

Proficiency in accounting software such as Quickbooks or other accounting software, resolving accounting discrepancies, and familiarity with accrual accounting are also beneficial skills for freelance accountants.

Freelance Accountant Job Description

Freelance accountants focus on managing all accounting transactions.

These transactions often vary depending on the client or business and can include:

  • Reconciling accounts payable and receivable
  • Preparing budget forecasts
  • Ensuring timely bank payments
  • Preparing tax returns
  • Handling financial closings
  • Publishing financial statements
  • Managing balance sheets and profit/loss statements

Other duties may include generating materials for audit purposes, responding to emails to clients, and bookkeeping.

You may also have to log payments and expenditures, including payroll, purchase orders, and invoices.

Top Freelance Accountant Jobs and Careers

There are a few different types of accounting you can perform in your freelancing career.

If you have specializations in any of these areas, it may be a good option to look into.

  • Tax Accountant: A freelance tax accountant specializes in tax computing for businesses. They will ensure businesses accrue tax liabilities correctly and ensure point-of-sale tax calculations are correct as these can have big implications for a business. They also prepare tax returns and help business leaders apply tax rules and regulations.
  • Staff Accountant: A staff accountant manages the complete accounting cycle of a business. Some staff accountant roles are niche, which means they focus on a singular part of the accounting cycle, such as accounts receivable or general ledger accounting.
  • Internal Auditor: Internal auditors review accounting transactions for accuracy and ensure a business is following accounting guidelines. Many businesses have internal auditors as a part of their staff, but you can also do this as a freelancer.

Where Can a Freelance Accountant Work?

A freelance accountant can work from home with businesses all over the world!

As long as you have accounting skills, a good internet connection, and excellent organizational skills, you can make a living doing freelance accounting for a variety of businesses.

What It’s Like To Be a Freelance accountant?

Freelance accounting is a growing field, and many people enjoy it as a career because of its potential for flexibility.

But what is it really like to be a freelance accountant?

Is Being a Freelance Accountant Hard?

An accountant must be well-qualified and experienced in their field.

So, if you don’t have much experience in accounting, doing it freelance could be hard for you.

At least working for a business, you may have some internal support from a manager.

Another major challenge is self-motivation.

You must have motivation and drive, a sense of professionalism, and a desire for stability.

Additionally, since you will often be working alone, you must be comfortable with a solitary work environment.

Is a Freelance Accountant’s Job Stressful?

Freelance accountants face several stressful situations in their work.

With the ever-changing tax laws and accounting standards, the pressure to remain compliant adds an extra layer of stress.

Furthermore, the long hours, demand from clients, and pressure to lower fees can all contribute to added stress.

Common Freelance Accountant Work Day

As a freelance accountant, your day will vary depending on the business you are working for, but here is a general overview of a freelance accountant’s schedule.

Freelance Accountant Tasks and Duties

A typical day in the life of a freelance accountant can vary based on the projects they have.

Generally, they will start the day by checking their emails and calendars to review any new project requests or deadlines.

They will also review their existing projects and ensure all deliverables are on track and answer any questions or concerns from clients.

Depending on the project, freelance accountants may also spend time researching industry trends, preparing financial statements, or providing advice on various financial matters.

Freelance Accountant Work Hours and Schedule

The best part about freelancing is that you are generally able to choose your schedule!

A business will typically give you a set number of hours you can expect to work when they hire you, but as long as you complete your work on time, you can usually work whenever and wherever you please.

Does This Career Field Embrace Work/Life Balance?

Finding a good work/life balance as a freelance accountant can be challenging because accounting tasks for businesses can seem endless.

Since the accounting cycle is ongoing and never ceases, there is also a constant flow of accounting work.

However, since a lot of this work can be done online, you may have more time for leisure and other activities.

If a client does not have a good accounting system in place, a freelance account could have a lot of time-laboring work that becomes tedious.

This can cause decreased productivity leading to a lot of overtime and missed deadlines.

Do Freelance Accountants Make Good Money?

Accounting is a highly specialized field and will continue to be in demand.

In the United States, freelance accountant jobs will increase by six percent by 2031.

How Much Do Freelance Accountants Make?

The average salary for a Freelance Accountant is $60,814 per year, which equates to about $37.14 per hour.

Salaries range from $45,500, which is the 25th percentile, to $66,500, which is the 75th percentile.

Top earners in the 90th percentile make $89,000 annually.

To help increase their income, freelancers can look for referrals from current clients and offer services that command higher fees.

They can also take advantage of online spaces such as Guru.com and Upwork.com to find work posted by employers.

How Do Freelance Accountants Get Paid?

Freelance accountants typically maintain their own bookkeeping since this is their specialty.

They will receive payment according to the agreements they have between themselves and their clients.

Freelancers commonly create invoices from an accounting system like Quickbooks to bill their clients.

You can bill by the hour, by project, or with an agreed monthly flat rate.

Freelance accountants will agree with each client on how they will receive payment, which could be in cash, check, or by electronic methods such as bank transfers or credit cards.

Requirements, Skills, and Education Required for Freelance Accountants

You will need certain skills to be successful as a freelance accountant.

These include strong written and oral communication, organization and attention to detail, analytical and problem-solving skills, time management, and knowledge of relevant software packages such as Quickbooks or Microsoft Dynamics.

Who Should Consider a Freelance Accountant Career Path?

If you have already worked as an accountant or bookkeeper for several years and want more flexibility in your career, freelance accounting might be a great fit.

Being business-savvy, good with numbers and finances, and with an entrepreneurial spirit makes accounting a great side hustle.

Who Should NOT Consider a Freelance Accountant Career Path?

If you are not detail-oriented or analytical, accounting may be a challenging career for you to manage.

In addition, if you have difficulty with self-motivation, initiative, and entrepreneurship, you will find being a freelancer hard to manage.

It’s important to consider if you are suitable for working as a freelance accountant.

This career requires financial and emotional resilience to weather fluctuations, as employee benefits are often less available.

Is It Hard To Become a Freelance Accountant?

If you already have accounting experience, becoming a freelance accountant will be easy.

Securing new clients may prove difficult as you start, but once you have established a portfolio of clients, you can generate new clients with referrals.

What Do I Need To Become a Freelance Accountant?

To become a freelance accountant, you will need some specific skills and experience.

Requirements for Becoming a Freelance Accountant

Without proper education, freelance accounting will be difficult.

Freelance accountants must be able to manage their time well because of the many parts of the accounting cycle.

In addition, freelancers are entrepreneurs, so having entrepreneurial skills are a must.

Without them, becoming a freelance accountant will be difficult.

What Skills Does a Freelance Accountant Need?

Entrepreneurial skill sets are highly important for a freelance accountant.

These skills include time management, creativity, determination, integrity, tenacity, emotional balance, self-criticism, and management of money, time, and resources.

What Education Does a Freelance Accountant Need?

To become a freelance accountant, you should first obtain a degree in accounting or finance.

A postgraduate degree may be beneficial but is not essential.

However, having a postgraduate degree, such as a Master of Business Administration or an accounting certification, can get you a lot of attention from clients.

An alternative to advanced education is to get a bookkeeping certification which allows you to perform basic accounting tasks.

Some business owners who wish to manage their accounting hire bookkeepers to handle the administrative tasks of accounting.

Therefore, training as a bookkeeper is a great entry into becoming a freelance accountant.

What Experience Does a Freelance Accountant Need?

Having some work experience under your belt can show clients your level of expertise.

You can gain experience through an accounting internship or part-time work.

Some freelance accountants work for corporations for several years before branching into self-employment.

How To Become a Freelance Accountant

If you’ve decided that freelance accounting is the career path for you, you just have to set yourself up for success by finding and applying for freelance accounting jobs.

Where To Find Freelance Accountant Opportunities?

The digital age provides a wealth of resources to help you find clients who need freelance accountants.

Several websites specialize in connecting potential employers with qualified freelancers.

You can also look at local business advertisements and postings in your area to find freelance work with small businesses in your community.

Applying for the Gigs

You should treat freelancing sites and opportunities as you would if you were applying for a corporate accounting position.

Ensure that your resume is up-to-date and that your skills match the job postings you discover.

Keep track of application deadlines so you don’t miss any windows.

Interviewing for the Gigs

The interview process for freelance accounting gigs is often more stringent than for permanent in-house positions.

You should be able to explain to a prospective employer why you want the job and why you would be a good fit.

Additionally, it’s a good idea to research both the company and the field to demonstrate your preparedness.

How Do I Prepare for Freelance Accountant Gigs?

If a client chooses to work with you, create an onboarding process that includes a contract of the working terms between you and your client.

This should cover how your employer will assign your work and how you will meet deadlines.

Lastly, cover how you will receive payment for your work.

Ensure you and your client agree on rates and payment methods.

It’s a good idea to minimize your own accounting work, so set up an invoicing and payment system that is as automated as possible.

Similar Careers To Check Out

No matter the field, freelancing is rewarding.

Check out these other fields that are great for freelancers.

  • Freelance Photographer: Freelance photographers who work independently doing photo shoots for clients or creating and selling their fine art photography. 
  • Freelance Digital Marketer: Freelance digital marketers provide digital marketing services to businesses, nonprofits, and organizations on a contractual basis. Like freelance accountants, they help businesses boost their finances and help with business expenses.
  • Freelance Writer: Freelance writers write content for various publications and channels, such as websites, press releases, blog posts, internal corporate documents, and more. They help businesses with marketing copy, SEO-driven content, and more.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you still have questions about freelance accounting? Here are a few common queries and their answers.

Is being a freelance accountant worth it?

The value of a freelance accountant is in the freedom of working for yourself.

Freelance accountants can set their schedules.

There is also unlimited income potential since sole proprietors perform these roles.

What is a good hourly freelance rate?

Freelance accountant hourly rates range from $30 to $51 an hour, depending on your level of expertise and education.

It’s not uncommon to charge higher rates to cover overhead and expenses, healthcare, and retirement planning.

As an entrepreneur, you must plan for paying income and self-employment taxes.

Wrapping Up

Freelance accountants play a vital role in the economy.

These roles help businesses get quality accounting help on their terms.

Likewise, those who work as freelance accountants can set their schedules and control their income potential.

Freelancing is great for stay-at-home parents or those seeking additional education who need flexibility in their work.

If you have substantial accounting training or are currently training to be an accountant, you should explore what working as a freelance accountant could look like for you.

The freedom and benefits that come with this type of work are priceless!

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