What is the difference between a bookkeeper and an accountant?

ELI5

A bookkeeper is the “assistant” of an accountant. The accountant oversees all work done by a bookkeeper and has the responsibility to fix any errors made.

Key Takeaways

  • The responsibilities of a bookkeeper and an accountant differs from company to company
  • But generally, a bookkeeper handles all typical bookkeeping, data entry and accounts receivables and accounts payables collections
  • An accountant generally takes care of less routine tasks such as inventory management
  • An accountant will have to use journal entries for out of the ordinary transactions and reviews all the work done by the bookkeeper

What are the responsibilities of an accountant and a bookkeeper?

This varies depending on the company and industry.

Bookkeeper

  • Data entry
  • Payroll
  • Accounts receivables and accounts payables collections

Accountant

  • In charge of less routine tasks (e.g. inventory management)
  • Preparation of end-of-month and end-of-year journal entries
  • Preparation of financial statements
  • Journal entries
  • Review all work done by the bookkeeper
  • May have to do tasks usually done by a bookkeeper

So what exactly is the difference between a bookkeeper and an accountant?

A bookkeeper and accountant both record all of a company’s transactions. But an accountant usually handles more “complex” transactions that require journal entries.

An accountant should be able to do everything a bookkeeper does and has the responsibility to manage and check all of a bookkeeper’s work. An accountant typically earns more than a bookkeeper because an accountant takes on more senior responsibilities and accountability within the company.

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