Accountant Vs. Bookkeeper

Considering a career that fully utilizes your talents in mathematics? While there are many fantastic options available, the work of an accountant and a bookkeeper should be top considerations.

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Comparing Accountants to Bookkeepers

Almost every business and individual needs assistance with managing their finances in some form. Accountants and bookkeepers fulfill a large number of these needs by using their natural skills, education, and experience. Explore the defining characteristics that make each of these career paths unique.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary (2017)* Job Outlook (2016-2026)*
Accountant Bachelor's degree $69,350 10%
Bookkeeper Some college, no degree $39,240 -1%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Accounting with Computers, General
  • Auditing
  • Bookkeeping
  • Financial Accounting
  • Managerial Accounting
  • Taxation, General

Responsibilities of Accountants vs. Bookkeepers

Both accountants and bookkeepers fulfill a number of crucial financial roles for individuals and businesses alike. People working in each role are required to track various kinds of financial records. They are also held responsible for computing a number of different figures. In specific, accountants review and maintain documents that are required to be released to investors. Accountants also work to calculate taxes for individuals and businesses. In contrast, bookkeepers work on maintaining and calculating day-to-day expenses.

Accountant

After earning a bachelor's degree in accounting (or another relevant field), and potentially a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) credential, an individual can apply to work as an accountant. Accountants are tasked with keeping the financial records of an individual or business. They ensure the records are accurate and current through using their organizational skills, communication skills, and incredible attention to detail. People in this role must also be well-versed in legal requirements of disclosing certain business financials to the public. The majority of accountants work for accounting businesses, while others are employed by government entities or finance and insurance companies. Almost all people in this career work full-time, with many working overtime hours during peak times of the year.

Added duties of accountants include:

  • Ensuring the efficient use of a company's finances
  • Making suggestions for boosting profits
  • Facilitating on-time payment of taxes
  • Creating optimized budgets for businesses

Bookkeeper

Bookkeepers are the individuals responsible for recording and tracking the daily expenses of a business. They record purchases and deposits to an organization's bank account(s), as well as all bills, paid and unpaid. These records are maintained through the knowledgeable use of bookkeeping software. If any discrepancies are discovered, bookkeepers must find the source of the issue. In order to work as a bookkeeper, a high school diploma is required, but some advanced, relevant education and/or experience is usually desired.

Those who work as a bookkeeper may also be responsible for the following:

  • Handling payroll duties (e.g. issuing checks) for smaller organizations
  • Reviewing financial records for accuracy
  • Issuing checks for various expenses
  • Monitoring any accounts that are overdue.

Related Careers

For those who want to use their financial knowledge to focus on individuals rather than businesses, working as a financial planner can be a fantastic option. Individuals who have exceptional talents in math and are highly detail-oriented could also consider working in the role of an actuary.

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