Accountant Vs Bookkeeper – Accounting Careers

When deciding on what type of a career path you wish to follow in the accounting field, one must compare the different opportunities.

One such comparison would be whether to become an accountant versus bookkeeper.  What are the major responsibilities of these, educational requirements, career opportunities, and average salary?

Responsibilities of Accountants vs Bookkeepers

From a high level, the difference between an accountant vs bookkeeper is that the bookkeeper is the one responsible for keeping the daily records.  This means processing invoices, recording the transactions and retaining the support for these in easily accessible files.

Accountants, on the other hand, are generally the ones that use this information to group and organize the financial statements into proper format.  Summarizations of this data is prepared by the accountant and translated into a report for shareholders, management, or other stakeholders of the organization to review.

Education Requirements of Accountants vs Bookkeepers

Because of the complexity of creating financial statements in accordance with government standards, as well as the requirement to understand the bookkeepers job and how it fits into theirs, accountants are required to have a higher education than bookkeepers.  Generally, an accountant is required to have a bachelors degree in accounting in order to obtain the job, while a bookkeeper may only need an associates degree.  Certain bookkeepers may only need to take a few classes and note necessarily have a degree.

Career Opportunities of Accountants vs Bookkeepers

Generally accountants have greater career opportunities because they have a larger education to pull from.  Bookkeepers may in certain markets face greater opportunities but an accountant could always do the job of a bookkeeper in the pinch, but not vice versa.

Average Salary of Accountants vs Bookkeepers

The average salary of a bookkeeper according to the department of labor is: $25-40.000 annually whereas an accountant earns on average $50-60,000 annually.  Of course, these numbers certainly change depending on factors such as experience level, responsibilities, and industry.  If you want to become an accountant, you can also certainly move up from being a bookkeeper after you have gained experience in your current role if you go back to school.  Actually, it may give you a leg up because you already have related experience.  Don’t forget to check out more articles in our Accounting Student’s Guide or New Accountant’s Guide now!

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