What’s the Difference Between Accountants and Bookkeepers?

Consider employing a Accountants and Bookkeepers. To decide which of these two jobs your company requires, consider the information provided below.

  • While accounting is a subjective assessment of what the data implies for your company, bookkeeping is a direct record of all purchases and transactions your firm does.
  • A bookkeeper may be seen as an accountant, but without the appropriate accreditation, a bookkeeper cannot be an accountant.
  • You should evaluate your company’s existing financial situation, take into account the kind of financial development you’re after, and then decide whether you can handle it on your own to determine if you need a financial specialist.
  • This article is for company owners who are trying to decide whether they should employ a bookkeeper or an accountant.

A crucial component of being a successful small company owner is maintaining control of your money. Your financial data must be up-to-date and correct so that you have the resources you need to execute wholesome cash flow plans and make wise business choices.

It is harder to manage your money on your own when your company expands to incorporate additional clients, suppliers, and staff.

It’s time to seek assistance when the bookkeeping and accounting duties for your small company become too much for you to perform on your own. But do you need an accountant or a bookkeeper? Although there may be some overlap in what the phrases mean and how they work, there are also clear distinctions between them.

What you need to know to choose which is best for you is provided below.

Accounting vs bookkeeping

To record daily financial transactions, such as purchases, receipts, sales, and payments, bookkeeping is a transactional and administrative position. Accounting offers more individualized financial insights to company owners based on information gained from their accounting data.

D’Arcy Becker, head and professor of the University of Wisconsin Whitewater Department of Accounting, said that “bookkeeping is meant to produce data on the activities of a company.” Accounting is designed to transform data into knowledge.

What does an accountant do?

Traditional bookkeeping has existed from around 2600 B.C., or as long as there has been trade. The primary responsibility of a bookkeeper is to keep accurate records of every dollar that enters and exits the company. Daily transactions are recorded by bookkeepers in a consistent, readable manner. Accountants can do their duties thanks to their records.

Typical accounting responsibilities include the following:

  • Keeping track of financial transactions
  • Debit and credit posting
  • generating invoices
  • controlling payroll
  • keeping ledgers, accounts, and subsidiaries in balance

Maintaining a general ledger, which is a record that tracks the amounts from sales and expenditure receipts, is one of a bookkeeper’s essential responsibilities. A simple piece of paper to specialist accounting software like QuickBooks and Xero may be used as a ledger, depending on its sophistication.

Your company must record every sale and purchase it makes in the ledger, and certain transactions need supporting documents. On the IRS website, you may learn more about which transactions need for supporting documentation.

A bookkeeper does not need to have a formal degree, but they should be accurate and informed about financial concepts and terminology. Typically, a bookkeeper’s job is supervised by an owner or accountant. A bookkeeper is not and should not be regarded as an accountant.

What qualifications are required of a bookkeeper?

Although licensure is available, bookkeepers are not obliged to be certified in order to manage the books for their clients or employers. Bookkeepers may get accredited and licensed via the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB) and the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers (NACPB).

A national test and two years of full-time work experience are prerequisites for AIPB accreditation for bookkeepers. Bookkeepers must continue their education in order to preserve their certificate.

When bookkeepers’ complete exams in small business accounting, small business financial management, bookkeeping, and payroll, the NACPB awards them certificates. Additionally, it provides a payroll certification that calls for extra training.

Bookkeepers who want to become certified public bookkeepers must complete a test, have 2,000 hours of work experience, and sign a code of ethics. To keep their licenses, they must participate in 24 hours of continuing education annually.

A bookkeeper who has earned professional certification demonstrates their dedication to the field, their proficiency in it, and their willingness to keep learning new approaches and strategies.

What are the fees for a bookkeeper?

Your company’s requirements for accounting will determine the compensation or rates you’ll pay a bookkeeper. Your expenses are mostly influenced by three factors: the services you want, the level of skill required, and the local market.

  • Services: The cost to engage a bookkeeper depends on the bookkeeping services your company need and how much time it takes to accomplish them on a weekly or monthly basis. It will be less expensive to engage someone part-time to manage your daily operations than it would be to pay someone full-time to reconcile the accounts once a month. Estimate the time it will take to accomplish the tasks you need the bookkeeper to do when you have a list of those chores. Determine if you need to recruit someone full-time, part-time, or on a project basis based on that figure.
  • Hire a qualified or licensed bookkeeper if your records are complicated or you make a lot of sales. You may feel secure knowing that your money is in excellent hands with the help of a professional bookkeeper, but they will cost you extra.
  • Local market: The cost of hiring a bookkeeper may vary depending on where your company is located. You’ll spend more for a bookkeeper if you reside in a high-wage state like New York than you would in South Dakota. The national average pays for bookkeepers in 2020 was $42,410, or $20.39 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Benefits of hiring a bookkeeper

Ageras, a professional services provider, claims that engaging a bookkeeper to organize and record your company’s financial records has a number of benefits. Here are several to think about.

  • Services for organization: Bookkeepers can assist you in keeping track of and organizing your financial records and reports. Your bookkeeper will already have comprehensive, collated records of your company to consult if you later decide to engage an accountant, possibly saving you money on accountant expenses.
  • Less expensive: Compared to accountants, bookkeepers often charge lesser rates for their services. The precise sum varies according on how much paperwork and documents you need.
  • Direct evaluations: While accountants provide in-depth assessments, a bookkeeper can give you a basic assessment of the financial health of your company. On the other side, accountants may provide a biased or estimated analysis.

What exactly does a CPA do?

A bookkeeper records financial information, which an accountant analyzes and uses to provide company owners crucial financial and business insights. The following are some common accounting tasks:

  • data validation and analysis
  • creating reports, carrying out audits, and putting together financial records such tax returns, income statements, and balance sheets
  • supplying data for predictions, company trends, and expansion prospects
  • assisting the firm owner to comprehend the effects of financial choices
  • modifying entries

According to John A. Tracy in his book Accounting for Dummies, “Accountants look at the larger picture.” We handle a lot of rebates and discounts; they explain as they step back. How should these transactions be recorded? Do I record the gross sale amount in addition to the net sale amount, or simply the net sale amount? The bookkeeper executes these transactions once the accountant determines how to handle them.

The accounting process results in reports that bring together important elements of your company’s finances to give you a comprehensive picture of where your finances stand, what they mean, what you can and should do about them, and where you can anticipate where your company will go in the near future.

An accountant and a certified public accountant are two different people (CPA). Both can prepare your tax returns, but a CPA is better familiar with tax laws and can represent you if you are under IRS examination.

Do bookkeepers practice accounting?

To become an accountant, one typically needs a degree in finance or accounting. After that, they could seek further credentials like the CPA. It’s possible for accountants to work as bookkeepers.

However, Bryce Warnes said in a Bench blog post that if your accountant handles your accounting, you can be overpaying for this service since an accountant cost more per hour than a bookkeeper.

What qualifications are required of an accountant?

The experience, credentials, and licensing of an accountant determine their qualifications. They must have a bachelor’s degree from a college or university that is accredited in order to work as an accountant.

Accountants may advance their skill sets and get employment in bigger firms by earning a variety of accounting certifications. Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and Certified Internal Auditor are two other popular accounting certifications in addition to CPA credentials (CIA).

CPA certification

An accountant who has passed the Uniform CPA Exam and complied with their state’s criteria is known as a CPA. For them to keep their certification, they must also fulfill continuing education requirements.

Look for an accountant with strong communication skills who is knowledgeable about tax law and accounting software when hiring a CPA. They must to comprehend your sector as well as the particular wants and demands of tiny enterprises.

CFA certifications

The CFA certification, given out by the CFA Institute, is one of the most prestigious titles in accounting. Accountants study about global markets, ethical financial conduct, investment analysis, and portfolio management in this degree. Accountants need four years of relevant job experience to finish the degree.

Additionally, CFAs must pass a difficult, three-part test with a 39% success rate as of September 2021. The key takeaway from this is that introducing highly specialized accounting expertise to your company implies employing a CFA.

CIA identification

An accountant who has earned certification in doing internal audits is known as a CIA. An accountant needs two years of work experience in addition to passing the necessary examinations in order to get this qualification.

Some of the CIA’s services are also available to CPAs. If you want a more specific emphasis on financial risk assessment and security monitoring procedures, you may engage a CIA.

What are the fees for an accountant?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the median annual wage for accountants in 2020 will be $73,560, or $35.37 per hour. However, the cost is influenced by their level of expertise, your location, and the intricacy of your accounting requirements.

Accountants can provide a customer with a set price quotation for a particular service or bill a standard hourly rate. While more complex services can cost $100 or more per hour, basic services might cost as low as $20 per hour.

Benefits of hiring an accountant

Employing a small company accountant has several advantages. Here are some benefits of working with an accountant as opposed to a bookkeeper.

  • Analysis: An accountant can provide you with a thorough assessment of the financial health of your company, as well as advice on how to make financial choices. On the other hand, bookkeepers are simply in charge of documenting financial transactions.
  • Knowledge: Compared to bookkeepers, accountants must have more education, certifications, and job experience. In fields like taxes and investing, accountants often provide considerably more beneficial experience.
  • Legal assistance: Because of their training and experience, accountants can gather financial data to support your company’s position in court. Businesses may steer clear of IRS problems with the assistance of accountants who have knowledge with corporate taxes.

An alternative to employing an accountant or bookkeeper is accounting software.

It’s possible that your company’s accounting demands don’t need a hired expert’s in-depth knowledge. You can also be keeping an eye on your company’s expenditure report and considering where to cut costs. In either scenario, think about managing the accounting yourself or giving this duty to one or more of your present staff members.

You and your team can correctly and effectively monitor and manage the payroll, inventory, invoicing, and expenditure reports for your company using accounting software. When choosing accounting software, start by taking your budget and the size of your company’s accounting requirements into consideration.

Free versions of many accounting applications are available that provide fundamentals like monitoring income or creating financial reports. For instance, Wave Financial enables an infinite number of people to cooperate on financial projects while providing the majority of its services for free.

Other applications include more sophisticated capabilities like recurring invoicing or purchase orders and demand yearly or monthly subscriptions. Although these services are expensive, they may improve the precision and effectiveness of crucial financial management procedures.

When to consult a financial expert

It may be challenging to decide if you even need an accountant or bookkeeper, much alone when it would be best to engage one. There are numerous solutions available to you for managing financial chores, even though many small firms use an accountant as a consultant.

For instance, some small company owners utilize software that their accountant suggests or employs to do their own accounting, then provide the results on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis for the accountant to take appropriate action. A bookkeeper may be employed by other small firms, or they may set up a little accounting division, with data entry employees answering to the bookkeeper.

If your company is big enough, consider hiring a full-time staff rather than an independent consultant before searching for a certified bookkeeper. Request recommendations from friends, coworkers, or your local chamber of business. You may also look for bookkeepers on online social networks like LinkedIn.

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants is another place to seek for CPAs with expertise in certain fields, such employee benefits or personal finance.

Finding a qualified bookkeeper may need some background investigation since, unlike accountants, they are not obliged to obtain a professional qualification. When selecting a bookkeeper, solid recommendations from dependable coworkers or years of expertise are crucial considerations.

Are you still unsure as to whether you need to get assistance with your books? Here are three scenarios that suggest it’s time to see a financial expert:

  1. Your taxes are intricate. It’s time to engage an accountant if doing your taxes on your own has gotten too difficult due to many income streams, overseas interests, numerous deductions, or other factors. An accountant can help you remain on top of critical tasks like payroll, tax deductions, and tax filings while also saving you hours of work
  2. Accounting is taking up too much of your time. You’re doing your business a disservice if you’re spending so much time on accounting duties that you’re unable to focus on expanding your company or keeping current clients satisfied. If you concentrate on your development potential and leave the accounting to the specialists, you can end up making more money in the long run.
  3. There is expansion in your company. When your firm is small, doing the accounting alone could be OK, but if it is expanding, it might be time to get assistance. A CPA who handles your taxes and a bookkeeper who balances the books once a month might be your first two hires. Then, when your accounting requirements grow, hire a staff member.

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