The Beginner’s Guide to Bookkeeping

who is a bookkeeper

The daily responsibilities of a bookkeeper vary based on the type of professional you hire. (More on that shortly!) They also depend on what level of services bookkeeper definition you’re looking for. Ledgers are important because they can be used to create documents for your business, like income and cash flow statements.

What qualifies you as a bookkeeper?

Bookkeepers typically have a bachelor's degree or higher, often in a field like business, accounting, math or economics. Some may have a master's degree in a related area, but it's also possible to find highly qualified candidates without a college education.

This involves creating outgoing invoices you might need to send a client you’ve done work for. In may also mean paying incoming invoices from anyone you’ve hired. If there’s a discrepancy between the books and your bank, your bookkeeper will help you get to the bottom of it. They’re both condiments, and they work well together, but they’re not the same. Harold Averkamp (CPA, MBA) has worked as a university accounting instructor, accountant, and consultant for more than 25 years.

Career Paths

Since bookkeepers keep track of sales and cost of goods sold, they are uniquely aware of certain aspects of your business’ inventory. As such, some bookkeepers offer inventory management as part of their services. In these cases, they can help you determine how much inventory is on hand, how much inventory is being sold, and whether there are any discrepancies.

Usually, the entry-level salary for both bookkeepers and accountants tends to be similar; however, the earning potential of an accountant tends to increase as their career progress. It is not uncommon for an experienced bookkeeper to make a career transition into accounting or another profession. As bookkeepers work closely with raw data, they tend to develop a good understanding of how a business works.

Abbreviations used in bookkeeping

For example, KPMG offers employees up to 25 days of paid vacation time, telecommuting opportunities, and a robust health insurance package. Therefore, those who do not like math, get confused easily when making simple calculations, or are generally opposed to number crunching should not apply. Bookkeepers aren’t required to be certified to handle the books for their customers or employer, but licensing is available. Both the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB) and the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers (NACPB) offer accreditation and licensing to bookkeepers. Will AI completely replace human bookkeepers and accountants one day? Most experts believe that humans won’t be replaced, but the nature of their work will change.

These accounts and their sub-accounts make up the company’s chart of accounts. Assets, liabilities, and equity make up the accounts that compose the company’s balance sheet. Accountants have higher salary and growth expectations than bookkeepers. To maximize earning potential and secure long-term job stability, it’s worth pursuing a career as an accountant. So, instead of trying to figure out, “how does bookkeeping work”, you can hire a bookkeeper to handle the entire process.

Additional duties

While bookkeepers make sure the small pieces fit correctly into place, accountants use those small pieces to draw much more significant and broader conclusions about a company’s finances. One of the most essential tasks a bookkeeper will do for a small business is making sure they don’t run out of day-to-day money. They can do this by keeping an eye on the balance of revenues to expenses, along with offering more advice if the business needs more available cash to operate. It’s usually bookkeepers who make payments on behalf of your small business. This can include anything from payment of supplier invoices, petty cash and expenses.

There are opportunities for forensic accountants in many industries, like nonprofit work, government and law-enforcement agencies, law firms, and large corporations. Bookkeepers who are interested in switching jobs but do not have a college degree might consider becoming an EA after a stint with the IRS. This job doesn’t require a college degree, only five years of tax experience with the IRS. All EAs must have 72 hours of continuing education every 36 months.

What Does a Bookkeeper Do vs. an Accountant?

Xero Advisor is offered by Xero, the maker of Xero accounting software. To earn this certification, candidates must pass an exam that covers the features and functionality of Xero, as well as best practices for bookkeeping and accounting using the software. Certified Bookkeeper is offered by the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB).

Bean counters refer to people who are too fussy and petty about small things such as beans. This explanation answers the questions of what is bookkeeping and what does a bookkeeper do. Meanwhile, it is a bookkeeper’s responsibility to pay attention to the details of every transaction. When a bookkeeper wants to leap to being an accountant, they will need to take the CPA exam, plus earn a bachelor’s degree (most of the time), if they do not have one already. Fifty states plus the District of Columbia require accountants to earn 150 credit hours of college education before taking the national four-part Uniform CPA exam. As an accountant, you must pay attention to figures and financial details, but it is more essential to possess sharp logic skills and big-picture problem-solving abilities.

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