How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Bookkeeper in Canada?

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How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Bookkeeper in Canada?

Newer business owners are often reluctant to hire a bookkeeper because of the added expense. But proper bookkeeping isn’t just an important part of running a successful business - a good bookkeeper can actually save you from costly record-keeping and tax filing mistakes.

If you’ve decided it’s time to get your books in order, the next logical question is: how much does it cost to hire a bookkeeper?

The answer depends on whether you: 

  • Hire a full-time, in-house bookkeeper
  • Hire a part-time, self-employed bookkeeper 
  • Hire an external bookkeeping service
How much does it cost to hire a bookkeeper

Since there are pros and cons attached to each option, we’re going to dive in and compare them. But first, let’s get clear on why hiring a bookkeeper is so important.

Your Bookkeeper's Role

A bookkeeper is responsible for recording the day-to-day financial activities of your organization so you (and your accountant) can use that information to make better business decisions

Typical bookkeeping tasks include: 

  • Recording financial transactions (like payments and billing)
  • Generating customer invoices
  • Performing reconciliations on bank accounts and credit cards
  • Preparing and filing sales tax returns (like GST and PST)
  • Generating financial reports (like balance sheets, income statements, and cash flow statements)
  • Working with an accountant to get answers to accounts receivable and accounts payable questions

Although people use the terms accounting and bookkeeping interchangeably, the responsibilities and rates associated with each role are quite different.

Accounting services often include high-level advisory work like tax planning, budgeting, and forecasting. So while an accountant can do your bookkeeping, it costs less to hire an experienced bookkeeper.

A word about "DIY Bookkeeping"

Because it can be relatively easy to keep records when transaction volumes or revenue are low, many businesses (like our client, NiceJob, for example) look to save money by opting for DIY bookkeeping.

What they usually discover, however, is that doing your own books has some serious cons, including:

  • Lack of value. Time spent on data entry and bookkeeping duties is usually better invested in high-value strategic work, billable hours, or revenue-generating sales and marketing tasks.
  • Risk of errors. If bookkeeping isn’t your strength (or a job you enjoy), you risk making mistakes or having accounting tasks fall to the bottom of your to-do list. The result? Penalties, fines, and messy, out-of-date books.
  • Questionable reporting. DIY bookkeeping can lead to inaccurate funder reports and misleading financial statements.

Now let’s consider your hiring options.

Option #1: How much does it cost to hire an in-house bookkeeper?

The cost of hiring an in-house bookkeeper varies with location, expertise, and time commitment. On Glassdoor, annual salaries range from $34,000 to $77,000, with the average base salary for a full-time bookkeeper in Vancouver pegged at $47,000.

In addition to salary, you can expect overhead costs like benefits, IT equipment, and payroll deductions, including:

  • CPP and EI contributions
  • Vacation and sick time
  • Professional development costs

A good rule of thumb for calculating these costs is to add 10% on top of salary.

Pros of Hiring a Full-Time In-House Bookkeeper

  1. Improved business understanding 
  2. Physically present to manage paper documents and provide in-office communication

Cons of Hiring a Full-Time In-House Bookkeeper

  1. Additional headcount may not represent best value for a growing business 
  2. Managing a bookkeeper adds to overhead
  3. Abrupt departure could necessitate hiring and training a replacement

Option #2: How much does it cost to hire a part-time bookkeeper?

Hiring a self-employed bookkeeper on a part-time basis is usually less expensive than hiring an employee. 

Because they often work with multiple small business owners, most part-time bookkeepers:

  • Come into the office intermittently
  • Work on a contract basis (eliminating payroll costs)
  • Charge an hourly fee based on job scope

Part-time bookkeepers typically charge $20 to $50 per hour. If you were to hire an accounting firm, the hourly rate would be much higher.

Pros of Hiring a Part-Time Self-Employed Bookkeeper

  1. Physically present
  2. Sufficient accounting knowledge to assume full bookkeeping responsibility
  3. Flexibility to scale hours up or down

Cons of Hiring a Part-Time Self Employed Bookkeeper

  1. Timeliness can be an issue for bookkeepers managing multiple clients 
  2. Increased workload due to business growth could eventually pose a problem
  3. Abrupt departure could necessitate hiring and training a replacement
  4. Hands-off business owner approach can lead to loss of records access if the relationship ends badly

Option #3: How much does it cost to hire a Bookkeeping service?

Outsourcing your bookkeeping to an external bookkeeping service like Enkel is a great option if your business is growing, but lacks the resources for a full-time bookkeeper. 

Hiring a bookkeeping service gives you valuable access to an entire team of experienced bookkeepers who will:

  • Manage your books virtually using cloud-based accounting software and tools 
  • Customize your bookkeeping, while offering add-on services like payroll and fractional controllership 
  • Charge a one-time onboarding fee, followed by a monthly flat rate 

While prices vary based on your requirements, monthly flat rates typically start as low as $500.

Pros of Hiring a Bookkeeping Service

  1. Team approach provides access to a wider range of services and expertise
  2. Scalable to meet the growing needs of your business
  3. No additional payroll or overhead costs
  4. Any internal turnover is seamless
  5. Segregation of bookkeeping tasks and review reduces fraud risk

Cons of Hiring a Bookkeeping Service

  1. Timeliness could be an issue for services managing multiple clients
  2. Lack of physical presence could hinder communication (setting out your communication expectations, schedule, and emergency protocols during onboarding can mitigate delays)

Remember: While the cost of hiring a bookkeeper will depend on your budget and needs, the opportunity cost of doing your own books is often higher than what you’d pay to outsource those tasks

At Enkel, we provide outsourced bookkeeping services to more than 300 businesses and nonprofit organizations across Canada.

Contact us and we’ll not only answer the question of how much does it cost to hire a bookkeeper, we’ll show you how our monthly bookkeeping service gives business owners a better grasp on their bottom line.

Gracia Chua
About Gracia Chua
Gracia Chua is the Marketing Specialist at Enkel Backoffice Solutions, a Vancouver based accounting firm that provides day-to-day bookkeeping services for small to medium-sized businesses and non-profit organizations.