Bookkeeper Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

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A Bookkeeper, or Bookkeeping Clerk, is a financial professional who is responsible for recording 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

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

  • Documenting transaction details
  • Putting together financial reports
  • Fact-checking accounting data
  • Notify senior staff of any accounting errors
  • Calculate interest charges
  • Recording financial transactions
  • Tracking payroll data
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Bookkeeper Job Description Examples

What Does a Bookkeeper Do?

Bookkeepers generally work with in-house accounting departments at a company or as part of a team at an accounting firm that handles company ledgers for multiple clients to ensure accuracy and compliance with finance law. Bookkeepers 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. Bookkeepers can also be in charge of basic administrative duties for the accounting team.

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 organization skills
  • The ability to prioritize projects
  • The ability to meet deadlines
  • Customer service skills
  • Excellent data entry skills
  • Payroll accounting skills

Bookkeeper Salary Expectations

On average, the annual salary for Bookkeepers is approximately $36,700—or $17.65 an hour. This estimate is taken from a collection of over 9,000 salaries submitted anonymously to Indeed over the past three years. Bookkeepers tend to stay with an employer for one to three years. Salaries reported to Indeed range from minimum wage to as high as $35 per hour.

Bookkeeper Education and Training Requirements

Bookkeepers typically have a bachelor’s degree or higher, often in a field like business, accounting, math or economics. Some may have a master’s degree in a related area, but it’s also possible to find highly qualified candidates without a college education. In fact, many employers post entry-level roles requiring that a candidate only have a high school diploma. 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. If your business uses certain software or a coding system to organize financial data, you can request relevant experience in your job posting.

Bookkeeper Experience Requirements

The typical work experience required of Bookkeepers depends on the role being filled. Entry-level employees, for example, may only need a high school diploma to be considered for the role. Other entry-level Bookkeeper postings may request an associates degree or higher, making exceptions for employees with 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 or higher, plus five or more years of experience—including some time leading a team or spearheading projects.

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Frequently asked questions about Bookkeepers

 

What is the difference between a Bookkeeper and an Accountant?

Bookkeepers and Accountants are both essential parts of 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 industry. 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 are the qualities of a good Bookkeeper?

Good Bookkeepers are highly skilled in mathematics, able to perform basic operations mentally to quickly check the accuracy of database information. They understand the basic workings of a company’s finances including accounts payable, accounts receivable and budgetary projections. Excellent Bookkeepers are detail-oriented but still have the ability to consider the big picture of what their data says about a company’s finances. They also use professionalism to maintain discretion and privacy at all times when dealing with sensitive company details and customer information.

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    Last updated: Apr 28, 2021