Bookkeeping vs Accounting: Know the Difference

Bookkeeping vs Accounting

A bookkeeper always diligently logs in every transaction, providing the raw data for financial management, while an accountant strategically analyzes these numbers to drive bigger financial strategies.

Often, people use the terms accounting and bookkeeping interchangeably, yet they each have distinct roles within the financial framework. Although bookkeepers and accountants aim to enhance financial clarity and efficiency, they contribute at different phases of the economic cycle.

Every business relies on accounting and bookkeeping to prepare its financial statements regularly, such as quarterly or yearly. These processes maintain accurate records and allow a business to assess its value and make informed future decisions. In this blog on Bookkeeping vs Accounting, we will understand their distinct roles, which can significantly impact your business’s financial clarity and decision-making process.

What Does a Bookkeeper Do?

A bookkeeper accurately records all of a business’s financial transactions. This role involves tracking daily activities like sales, purchases, payments, and receipts and keeping these records chronologically. By maintaining clear and organized records, bookkeepers ensure that the following accounting is precise and effective. The accuracy of bookkeeping is crucial as it directly affects the overall quality of financial reporting.

The Benefits of Hiring a Bookkeeper

  • Organizational Efficiency: Bookkeepers organize financial records, easing potential transitions to accountants.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Generally, bookkeepers charge less than accountants.
  • Clear Financial Overview: Bookkeepers provide a straightforward snapshot of your business’s financial status without the detailed analysis typical of accountants.

What Does an Accountant Do?

An accountant uses the transactional data bookkeeping provides to offer deeper financial insights and analyses. They interpret, summarize, and present financial data through income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements. By analyzing this information, accountants assess the company’s financial health, helping stakeholders make well-informed decisions. Overall, accountants provide businesses with a thorough understanding of their financial status and performance over designated periods.

Advantages of Hiring an Accountant

  • Comprehensive Analysis: Offers in-depth reviews of your business’s financial health and strategic advice.
  • Expertise: The accountant brings advanced knowledge in taxes and investments, often necessary for more complex financial landscapes.
  • Legal and Tax Help: Accountants prepare financial documentation that can assist in legal matters and help navigate corporate tax laws to avoid issues with authorities.

Difference between Bookkeeping and Accounting: Detailed Comparison

​​Understanding the difference between bookkeeping and accounting is crucial for managing your finances effectively. This comparison will clarify how accounting vs bookkeeping services play distinct roles in financial management.

Bookkeeping Services

1. Role and Responsibilities

Bookkeepers systematically document all financial transactions, including sales, purchases, and payments. They manage payroll, produce invoices, and ensure ledgers and accounts are balanced and up-to-date. An important duty is maintaining the general ledger, which records sales and expense receipts using tools like QuickBooks or Xero.

2. Educational and Professional Requirements

There are no formal educational requirements to become a bookkeeper. While not mandatory, certification through the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB) or the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers (NACPB) is available. Certification generally requires two years of experience, passing a national exam, and ongoing education to stay current.

3. Cost and Hiring Considerations

Costs vary depending on whether you need part-time, full-time, or project-based services. More complex books or higher sales volume may require a certified or licensed bookkeeper, impacting costs. Location affects cost; for example, rates in New York will likely be higher than in South Dakota.

Accounting Services

1. Core Functions and Responsibilities

Accountants review financial data recorded by bookkeepers to provide valuable business insights and advice. They generate important financial documents, including tax returns, income statements, and balance sheets. Accountants aid in forecasting business trends and identifying growth opportunities. They help business owners understand the financial impact of their decisions. Accountants handle audits and ensure financial reporting adheres to legal standards.

2. Educational and Professional Credentials

Accountants typically hold a bachelor’s degree in accounting or finance. Common certifications include Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), and Certified Internal Auditor (CIA).

  • CPA: This requires passing the Uniform CPA Exam and fulfilling ongoing educational needs.
  • CFA: This involves learning about investment analysis and ethical financial practices, requiring four years of experience and passing a three-part exam.
  • CIA: It focuses on internal auditing skills, requiring professional experience and exam success.

3. Costs and Hiring Considerations

Accountants may charge a fixed rate for specific services or a variable hourly rate based on the complexity of tasks. Costs vary widely based on experience, location, and the business’s specific accounting needs.

Bookkeeping vs Accounting: Main Differences

Understanding the differences between accounting and bookkeeping can help you understand which service might apply more to your business needs based on your operational complexity and strategic goals.

DefinitionIt involves identifying and recording all financial transactionsFocuses on measuring, recording, and interpreting transactions
ObjectiveTo maintain original books of accountsAnalyzing and interpreting financial transactions for decision-making
ScopeLimited to recording transactionsBroad, including analysis, interpretation, and reporting
Decision MakingDoes not support decision-making directlyProvides information crucial for informed decision-making
AnalysisTransaction data is recorded without analysisInvolves detailed analysis to gain business insights
Skill RequiredNo special skills are required; primarily clericalRequires specialized accounting knowledge and analytical skills
Financial PositionDoes not reveal the financial position of the businessReports on profit, assets, and liabilities, showing the financial position
Principles FollowedAdheres to basic accounting principles and conventionsMethods and reporting can vary significantly between entities
Level of WorkClerical and foundationalExtends to all levels of management
SupervisionBookkeepers work under the supervision of accountantsAccountants supervise and verify the work done by bookkeepers

Choosing Between a Bookkeeper and an Accountant for Your Business

When to Hire a Bookkeeper

  • Daily Transactions: Ideal for businesses needing daily sales and expense records.
  • Simple Operations: Best suited for companies with small inventories and straightforward business structures.
  • Budget Considerations: A more budget-friendly option, as bookkeepers generally command lower salaries than accountants.

When to Opt for an Accountant

  • Complex Financial Needs: Necessary for businesses dealing with complex transactions that require detailed financial oversight.
  • Large Inventories: Recommended for companies with extensive inventories where financial intricacies are more common.
  • Budget Flexibility: Suitable for businesses that can allocate a higher budget for financial management, given that accountants typically have higher fees.

This can help you decide which financial professional, a bookkeeper or an accountant, aligns best with your business’s current needs and budgetary constraints.

Choosing Professional Accountants/Bookkeepers or Accounting Software

Accounting software can be a practical alternative for businesses aiming to manage their finances without the overhead of hiring a professional bookkeeper or accountant. These tools offer a cost-effective way for you or your staff to handle expense reports, invoices, inventory, and payroll precisely and efficiently. But to choose the right software, you need to:

  • Evaluate the complexity of your accounting requirements and your budget.
  • Many software options offer free versions for basic tasks like income tracking and financial reporting, while paid versions provide advanced features like recurring invoices and purchase orders.

Using accounting software can significantly settle your financial management processes, making it an excellent option for businesses looking to reduce costs and increase efficiency.

Simplify Your Accounts with TruePro Associates

At TruePro Associates, we offer comprehensive accounting services tailored to meet your unique business needs. 

Why Choose TruePro Associates?

  • Expertise You Can Trust: Our experienced accountants are well-versed in the latest industry practices.
  • Customized Solutions: We take the time to understand your specific circumstances and tailor our accounting services accordingly.
  • Transparent Pricing: We discuss our fees upfront, ensuring you understand the value of the services you receive.

Schedule a consultation and learn how we can assist you in achieving your accounting and financial goals.

Contact us today!


Q1. What do bookkeepers charge per hour?

Ans. Bookkeepers typically charge between $30 and $90 per hour, depending on their experience and the complexity of the work required.

Q2. What does an accountant charge?

Ans. Accountants generally charge between $150 and $400 per hour, varying by their level of expertise and the specific financial services they provide.