To get started in their respective fields, bookkeepers and accountants often require various levels of education and training. While both positions include some level of interaction with financial accounts, they do very different tasks and use very different sets of resources.
Most significantly, accountants and bookkeepers might anticipate very different financial rewards and professional development.
The differences, as given by Phoenix bookkeeper services, between the two professions are explored in greater detail below.
Needed Level of Education
The BLS reports that anyone interested in becoming a bookkeeper can enter the field as a bookkeeping clerk with just a high school degree. Popular bookkeeping software can be learned in college classes leading to certification. A Certified Bookkeeper (CB) certification is also available from the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers.
If a bookkeeper is interested in moving up in their field or working for a larger company, they may want to pursue earning an associate’s degree in finance or business.
More schooling is needed to work in accounting. A bachelor’s degree in accounting is typically required for entry-level work, while certain employers may prefer a doctorate. Numerous universities and colleges offer bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in accounting, with many focusing on niche areas like tax accounting and forensic auditing, as noted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Courses for furthering one’s education or career might lead to more specializations. If an accountant is keen on investing and financial strategy over the long term, they could, for instance, pursue a college-level qualification in financial planning.
Obtaining a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) requires formal education and the successful completion of four separate exams. If you aim to prepare financial statements for publicly traded corporations, you must obtain this certification. Furthermore, CPA certification is often a prerequisite for employment in accounting departments.
A certified public accountant or bookkeeper who does it alone can benefit from taking some business classes. To prepare for this line of work, you can study for a certificate in small business management.
Tasks and Duties
Many facets of financial statements require the expertise of both bookkeepers and accountants.
Bookkeepers are responsible for keeping track of financial data such as purchases, payments, cash inflows and outflows, and other metrics through the use of software and spreadsheets. They only check the accuracy of the numbers before entering them into the system.
Bookkeepers sometimes draft financial statements for private businesses, such as balance sheets. While you will be working with financial data, you will not normally provide insights on compliance or performance.
An accountant’s job is to ensure that all financial records are accurate and by applicable rules and guidelines. It is also possible to do tax returns, evaluate the efficiency of budgets and business operations, and manage financial risks in this line of employment.
Some accountants’ days are spent poring through books and spreadsheets searching for ways to boost revenue, decrease expenses, or do all three.