What is a Bookkeeper?

Annual Salary Range

Full-time: $18,000 to $40,000+

The salary range reflects differences in job responsibilities, the size and type of employer, and the supply and demand of bookkeepers in a given geographic area. (General salary information is available at U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.)

Educational Requirement

Some bookkeepers enter the work force with a two-year associate degree in accounting, while others enter with a high school diploma and an expectation that the employer will provide on-the-job training. If you are hired as a bookkeeper, you should assume that you will need some experience (either formal or on-the-job) in the use of accounting software. Bookkeepers are not expected to have a four-year degree in accounting.

Membership Associations

Three organizations offer membership and/or certification status for bookkeepers:

  • American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers
  • National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers
  • American Payroll Association

Memberships in these organizations may offer you opportunities for additional training and certification, as well as evidence of bookkeeping credibility.

Who Hires Bookkeepers?

Bookkeepers are typically employed by companies that may not have the need or the means to employ an on-staff accountant. Such companies hire a bookkeeper to handle a range of routine financial activities, such as payroll, billing, and purchases. Small manufacturers, retail stores, distributors, large law offices, small accounting firms, and not-for-profit entities are examples of such companies. If an accountant is needed, the company typically contracts with an outside accounting firm for the services it needs.

Types of Tasks and Responsibilities

Bookkeepers are detailed-oriented; they are expected to be accurate and efficient with a range of basic financial tasks that are critical to a company’s ability to keep accurate financial information. As a bookkeeper, you would be expected to handle large volumes of routine financial transactions in areas such as sales, purchases, and payroll. You may also be expected to generate/handle the documents associated with transactions. For example, a purchase made by a company may include a purchase order, a receiving ticket, the supplier’s invoice, and payment to the supplier. A bookkeeper’s duties may also include the generation of internal financial documents as well as routine external financial reports.

A bookkeeper’s work may be reviewed by an accountant or business manager from inside the company, or by an accounting firm contracted by the company.

Future Needs

The increasing affordability of computers and software means that employers will continue to look for bookkeepers who are proficient in accounting/business software. With the advent of new technologies such assoftware as a service (SaaS, also known as “cloud computing”), small businesses will give preference to hiring bookkeepers who are adaptable to changes in computing systems.

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