Bookkeeping courses



I’m thinking about adding bookkeeping to my services and I was wondering if anyone could recommend a distance learning course? Any general advice about bookkeeping would be very much appreciated.

I don’t have any bookkeeping experience but I have worked as an analyst for several years so I’m comfortable working with numbers.

Many thanks,



I’m no expert on this as it’s not something I do myself, but hopefully the more experienced VAs will jump in if I get this wrong:

There are two widely accepted ones ICB and AAT - membership of them will often include your MLR registration which is about £350ish/year without professional membership plus an initial registration fee of about the same. If you are only doing a very small amount of bookkeeping within a small VA business, there is an exemption but you still need to register with HMRC.

TBH if it’s not something you are planning on making a big part of your VA business, it’s a lot of hassle. You might be better to find a trusted bookkeeping VA who you can refer work onto, and hopefully they can refer some other stuff back to you.

@expedio @valueaddbiz - have I got that right???


I’m biased as I’m an Ambassador with Ideal Schools and promote better bookkeeping throughout the UK as part of my role.

Ideal Schools are a Glasgow based distance learning provider and offer both ICB and AAT courses. (I think you get a discount if you mention my name to Brian but not sue if that is still a thing). I qualified with ICB through the Ideal Schools route and I have also put my staff through their training. It works for us.

You are ALWAYS learning new things so factor in a lot of learning that you rarely get compensated for. This last year in particular has been a nightmare for Bookkeepers because there has been such a lot of non-chargeable time learning the new legislation changes to support clients during Covid-19.

Although you don’t need to be qualified to offer bookkeeping (or accounting for that matter but that’s another gripe of mine) I’d say you do benefit from having a professional body behind you as the support they offer is invaluable.

Remember to advise your insurance company if you offer bookkeeping as it’s not always covered unless you specify.

Hope that helps. Michelle


It’s also worth mentioning:
You’d be allowed to do a lot of stuff as an employee which you’d need to be AML registered to do as a self-employed business person.

So whilst it would have been totally fine to do for an employer, you need to check the legalities of it as a business service.


Thank you both for taking the time to reply, you’ve given me some really useful info.

@valueaddbiz - I agree that it would be better to be qualified! Looking at the qualifications there seem to be different levels, what level do you think a bookkeeper should be at before offering services?


I think you need to be level 3 before being able to get a practice licence.


I’m doing my bookkeeping through Training Link for the ICB qualifications. I’m at Level 2 but picking it up again now as we had a bereavement in the family. They were so understanding and held my learning for 6 months to allow me time to come to terms with the loss of my mother. You do need to achieve all your qualifications before getting a practice license but I’m happy just to help out the Accountant for now.


The problem is Sandra, you can’t do that on a live system without being MLR registered. And it’s a lot of money unless the bookkeeping side of the business is bringing in a reasonable income.


I’ll have to check that out. Thankfully it’s not at the moment so no harm done.


My understanding is that AAT is better if you are employed and ICB better for self employed. Either way you need Level 3 to get AML with either - HMRC offer this (at a price not that much more!)


I’ve recently completed AAT Level 3. It was a bit of a nightmare as we were studying at the local college, which got closed; exams were cancelled; everything got delayed and the tuition during and after lockdown was a bit hit and miss! I spent a lot of time trying to study on my own at home (which was not what I wanted to do, hence paying a lot more to do it at college)… anyway, I searched a lot online for videos to help me learn and came across some free video lessons from a company called First Intuition. I was very impressed with the way they taught the bits I watched - might be worth a look?