Bookkeeping and accounting are related but involve different tasks and skillsets. If you’ve considered a career in either bookkeeping or accounting, you’ll want to know what skills each career involves, and what you’ll need to do to get there.
What’s the difference between a bookkeeper and an accountant?
Even though bookkeepers and accountants both deal with the financials for a company, there is a big difference in terms of their roles.
Bookkeepers provide the backbone of accounting - accurately entering, processing and recording financial transactions. These transactions make up the day-to-day accounting for a business. Keen attention to detail is required to be a successful bookkeeper because you’ll be responsible for entering all of the financial transactions for a company.
Accountants interpret, classify, analyze and summarize the financial results using the data that a bookkeeper records. Where bookkeepers generally focus on the minute details, accountants are responsible for taking a look at the big picture. There are a wide variety of different accountants with different specialities, such as tax accountants, auditors, forensic accountants and financial advisors.
What are the benefits of becoming a bookkeeper?
If you’re considering a career in the accounting world, becoming a bookkeeper is a great place to get started. By becoming an entry-level accounting clerk or bookkeeper, you’ll be able to hit the ground running with a solid understanding of the foundations of finance. Depending on your work experience, you may be able to find an entry-level position with a high school diploma or college certificate.
Once you’re working within the field of bookkeeping, it’s possible to continue to update your skills via courses in payroll, taxation and inventory. Depending on what interests you or what your employer requires, you’ll be able to grow your skillset and further your knowledge in bookkeeping.
Bookkeepers have the option of furthering their skill set by becoming a Certified Professional Bookkeeper. Through the program, you’ll round out your bookkeeping knowledge with skills necessary to carry out all key functions such as accounts payable and receivable, payroll, sales taxes, inventory and general bookkeeping.
I’m a bookkeeper. Should I consider getting my CPA designation?
If you’re passionate about your job as a bookkeeper, you’ve likely considered getting your CPA designation to become a Chartered Professional Accountant. Previously, Canadian accountants had the option of a variety of accounting designations they could achieve. In 2012, all accounting designations (CA, CGA and CMA) merged under a single designation - CPA, or Chartered Professional Accountants.
Investing the time, money and energy into a professional accounting certification can open new doors with your improved skill set, increase your salary, and solidify the longevity of your career. Before you get your CPA designation, you’ll need to have a bachelor’s degree from a university or fulfil the requirements for the CPA PEP admission.
If you meet the requirements to become a CPA, you’ll need to hone your big-picture problem-solving skills. After graduation, most CPA’s go on to work within accounting firms. Star performers are able to secure jobs within Big Four firms (KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte and Ernst & Young). From there, you have options to work your way up within a firm, or branch out and work as an in-house accountant.
What are some other potential career paths for me?
If you’re passionate about financial services but aren’t looking to become a chartered accountant, there are a wide variety of different career paths available to you.
First and foremost, the experience you’ll gain as a bookkeeper will set you up for success in almost any business path you choose to follow. Managing expenses and understanding financial analytics are important tools you can take with you, whether you’re looking at a career within office or project management, or considering starting your own business as an entrepreneur.
Looking for work? Consider Enkel.
At Enkel, we believe in providing small to midsize business owners with a higher level of bookkeeping service. More than just data entry and number crunching, we improve our clients’ businesses with detailed financial reporting and analytics, and experienced process outsourcing.
What does that mean for our team? We offer our staff of bookkeepers the opportunity to grow their careers, using the latest in accounting technology and analytics. We’ll challenge you to take ownership of your work, improve your skills, and look for creative ways to improve our clients’ bottom line through bookkeeping.
With a focus on continued education and practical accounting skills, our staff are able to learn about the world of business within a collaborative, flexible working environment. If you’re interested in a career in bookkeeping, reach out! We’d love to chat.