I realize that my selections tend to be out of the box but here's a gig that'll always be in demand because a smart business person wants to know how much they are REALLY making. While programs like MS Excel and QuickBooks make it easy to track financial records and pay monthly expenses, it helps to know what purpose each of those columns serves, as some people can incorrectly categorize their revenue.
There are a number of options including community college, which may offer for-credit or noncredit options. The good thing about accounting majors is that many classes are held online and there are some that run more than once a semester. You can also invest in training programs offered directly by accounting software companies.
Speaking from experience, it may help to supplement with traditional learning of terms and steps needed to complete an accounting cycle for a small business. I'm not a fan of proprietary institutions that run TV ads during Jerry Springer (even if they call themselves a college or university), so it may pay off to try a local learning institution that's been around for a minute. While bookkeeping certifications aren't necessary, they can place you above the competition in terms of promoting your skillset. If you want to keep training costs at a minimum while gaining experience, registering with a temp agency is one way to get to work quickly.
The nice thing about hanging out at a temp agency (and this is for the sake of getting your feet wet) is you're there when job orders come in. The placement specialist is looking to score ASAP and you tightening your Excel skills right in their presence can be a win if you're between gigs. Saves them from making phone calls.
It's best to get some education and experience before setting up shop. Yes, I know some videos say differently but who wants to take the time to file paperwork, buy equipment and office supplies unsure of whether they can even do this? While a person who's good with numbers or details may excel in this type of business, it's not a 100% guarantee.
Also, if you look at the many work-at-home companies that hire bookkeepers, at least three years of experience is needed to get signed on. On the other hand, some people find success when they can get clients on their own. There are some communities that believe wholeheartedly in being their own boss and this continues for generations, along with those who find freelancing to be a necessity. Even if people want to fly under the radar, there are many benefits to paying taxes regularly and on time.
Being All You Can Be
While competition may be stiff out there, one way to separate yourself from the crowd is to specialize. Service occupations like hairdressing, food, or importing are growing fields that have their own ins and outs. You may know of resources that'll help your clients earn or save more money. Tax preparer certifications may also be beneficial.
Finally, jumping in blind is highly discouraged and most of us can feel when we're in way over our heads. Some clients may try to cut corners knowing they need the services of a certified public accountant (CPA) or enrolled agent (a tax preparer that represents someone in court). I've even had agency reps try to place me in temp gigs where the job really called for an entry-level accountant or someone with at least five years of bookkeeping experience. Long story short, don't play around with client money, and definitely don't sell yourself short trying to get paid.