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Bookkeeper Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: November 3, 2023

A bookkeeper or bookkeeping clerk is a financial professional who is responsible for updating a company’s financial accounts and records. Their duties include checking accounting records for accuracy, tracking invoices and payments and maintaining a system for organizing company documents.

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bookkeeper duties and responsibilities

Text reads: "Sample bookkeeper duties: Record financial transactions, update and maintain financial records, manage accounts using specialized software, traffic company income and expenditures."

A bookkeeper’s most important duty is to track and manage financial data. Bookkeepers don’t interpret this data, which is the responsibility of accountants, so they focus less on analysis and more on creating and maintaining records. A bookkeeper has many responsibilities, including:

  • Documenting financial transaction details and monitoring the transactions
  • Preparing and filing financial documents
  • Processing accounts payable and accounts receivable
  • Fact-checking accounting data
  • Reconciling company accounts
  • Processing payroll and tracking payroll data
  • Assisting with tax payments and returns
  • Working with staff accountants as needed
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Bookkeeper Job Description Examples

What does a bookkeeper do?

A bookkeeper generally works within a company’s in-house accounting department, focusing on the day-to-day financial transactions. They may also work as part of a team at an accounting firm that handles company ledgers for multiple clients to ensure accuracy and compliance with finance law. This role focuses on documentation and processing for all types of financial transactions. bookkeeper enter data into spreadsheets and bookkeeping software, compile reports, gather and organize bank statements, highlight discrepancies in company records and research possible reasons for errors or differences in expected versus actual account balances. They might also handle basic administrative duties for the accounting team and often assist other team members as needed.

Bookkeeper skills and qualifications

A successful bookkeeper has a mix of formal education, certifications and real-world experience. Math skills are arguably the most important for bookkeepers, but they must also have:

  • An eye for detail
  • The ability to meet deadlines
  • The ability to communicate complex data in a clear way
  • Exceptional organizational skills
  • The ability to prioritize projects
  • Customer service skills
  • Excellent data entry skills
  • Payroll accounting skills

Bookkeeper salary expectations

On average, the annual salary for bookkeeper is approximately $43,292, or $21.23 per hour. This estimate is based over 20.3k salaries submitted anonymously to Indeed as of June 25, 2023. Earnings can vary based on factors such as geographical location, job duties and company type, and the candidate’s qualifications, including their educational level, previous experience and certifications. 

Bookkeeper education and training requirements

Bookkeepers typically have a bachelor’s degree or higher, often in a field such as business, accounting, math or economics. Some may have a master’s degree in a related area, but it’s also possible to find quality candidates without a college education. In fact, many employers post entry-level roles requiring that a candidate only have a high school diploma or an associate’s degree, especially if an individual has bookkeeping job experience. Bookkeepers may also have certifications from groups like the Association of Certified Public bookkeepers, as well as additional training in areas such as finance or accounting.

Bookkeeper experience requirements

The typical work experience required of bookkeeper depends on the role being filled. Entry-level employees, for example, may not need any experience, but most bookkeeping positions require at least some related experience. Mid-level bookkeepers will have a few years of experience and, most likely, a college degree. Senior-level bookkeepers will likely have a college degree plus 5 or more years of experience — including some time leading a team or spearheading projects. If your business uses certain software or a coding system to organize financial data, you can request relevant experience in your job posting.

Job description samples for similar positions

Is this job description sample not quite what you’re looking for? Don’t worry — we’ve got other samples for similar positions. You can use these to target a different role or get inspiration for your bookkeeper job description.

Frequently asked questions about bookkeeper

What is the difference between a bookkeeper and an accountant?

Bookkeepers and accountants are both essential roles involved in maintaining a company’s financial health and compliance. Bookkeepers focus more on managing day-to-day financial transactions while accountants provide expert insight and consultations to business owners on financial strategies and patterns. Bookkeepers prepare data and reports while accountants use the information they collect to assess a company’s financial health and make projections about future income.

What is the difference between a bookkeeper and a Data Entry Clerk?

Bookkeepers and data entry clerks both manage information databases and enter detailed information into company records, but bookkeepers focus on financial information while data entry clerks can work in any company department. Data entry clerks are often responsible for digitizing hard copies of paper records using a computer spreadsheet, while bookkeepers consolidate both digital and physical transactions into a central system. Bookkeepers are also responsible for reporting the data they collect while data entry clerks mainly focus on quickly and accurately entering as much information as possible.

Who does a bookkeeper report to?

Depending on the size of the business they work for, bookkeepers can report directly to business owners or to top roles in an accounting department such as head accountants, accounting managers or data analysts. The reports that bookkeepers compile are used by the entire accounting team to inform their decisions and strategic recommendations, so they work closely with accounting leadership to ensure their accuracy. Bookkeepers may also report to a corporate controller or assistant controller when it comes to maintaining legal compliance with their bookkeeping practices.

What makes a good bookkeeper job description?

When writing a bookkeeper job description, list specific duties, including the types of transactions and financial reports the selected candidate will handle. Discuss the accounting software your team uses and other essential software or tools applicants should know how to use. You might mention the structure of the department, including the supervisor of the position. To help set your bookkeeper job description apart, you might also include details about your company culture and the benefits offered.

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