Bookkeeper vs. Accountant

Ah, finances and its … bookkeepers? Accountants? CPAs? They all sound relatively the same and all share an industry that involves money and numbers, so they’re all the same, right? 

Wrong. Well, kinda. Sorta. If this were Facebook, we’d say ‘It’s complicated.’

Not every bookkeeper is an accountant – though every accountant is technically qualified to be a bookkeeper – and while both need to be sticklers for accuracy and knowledgeable about key financial topics, the main difference between a bookkeeper and an accountant is that an accountant has a bachelor’s degree in accounting or similar.

Clear as mud, right? Right.

So here, we’re hoping to demystify each so you know which one is right for your business.

Bookkeepers

Transactional, they are well-equipped to handle the routine and ongoing financial management / maintenance needs of businesses.

Tasks

  • Record all transactions
  • Manage the Chart of Accounts
  • Issue reports
  • Monitor cash flow
  • Account reconciliation
  • Process billpay (A/P)
  • Issue invoices (A/R)
  • Process payroll

Majority have a college degree or bookkeeper certification.

Accountant

Financial statement analysis and consult on the data. They are strategic and advise on the health of the business overall.

Tasks

  • Long-term planning – budgeting and forecasting
  • Prepare taxes and advise on tax laws – if a Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
  • Internal controls and quality assurance
  • Fraud auditing and account investigations
  • Analyze and interpret financial statements to forecast for growth
College degree required in accounting, finance or economics. Many accountants pursue CPA certification which requires further education and credentials.

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