While the terms of bookkeeper and accountant can be interchanged to a certain degree, they really shouldn’t be. A lot of bookkeepers actually get their start as a data entry clerk or an entry level bookkeeper for a smaller scaled business. Through experience they are able to grow and become the go-to for daily financial recording. Because of this, they are essentially someone that keeps and manages the books and retains various documents for records.
Once a bookkeeper becomes experienced, they may eventually move up into an accountant type of role where they are able to expand their job duties and responsibilities. An account then can focus on a variety of things including reporting, analysis, processes, and even advice. In the role, a lot of the times these two end up working together in some capacity. Whereas, the bookkeeper typically works as a manager that glues the accountant and the business owner together.
Both of these job titles can gain certification if they choose to through various organizations. Because neither title actually requires certification, it is not always to be expected for someone to have it. Because of this, it is important to know and understand the certifications and qualifications someone has prior to making your hiring decision.
How Do You Figure Out Whether You Need a Bookkeeper or an Accountant?
If you are stuck trying to figure out which one you actually need, you are likely going to want to take a good look at your business and your objectives. A lot of the times it is going to solely rely on your own industry and the level of expertise that is required to handle the books for your business. You want to not only figure out what industry your business is in, but you also want to look at and consider the number of fixed assets you have and how much inventory you have. Along with this, you should factor in the amount of employees you have, how complex your organization or business is, and whether or not you are going to be needing personalized advice. If you are a small business with very little requirements or needs, you are likely going to need nothing more than a bookkeeper. Whereas, if you are a large organization or business with a lot of employees and a large amount of inventory, you will want to hire a fully fledged and certified accountant professional.
Overall, there are a variety of differences between the two. The main difference is likely to be the level of certification, experience, and knowledge of each. The more experience one has in the industry, the more likely they are going to have ascended to accountant status. Whereas, a brand new person to the industry is likely going to begin as a bookkeeper. Therefore, you will want to figure out which one your business will require and base your hiring decision off of your own individual needs as an organization or a business.