Is There a Difference Between Bookkeeping and Accounting?

accountant using calculator at his desk

If you’re interested in business, you probably know that bookkeeping and accounting are two important functions that help a company run smoothly. But if you think the terms can be used interchangeably, you’re missing the mark. Whether you find an entry-level business career as a Bookkeeper or as an Accounting Assistant, you’ll need to know the difference between the jobs and their departments. Before you choose a path for your career, here’s some of what you’ll want to understand:


What is Bookkeeping?

Did you know that the business you work for may be legally required to keep financial records for up to seven years? That might sound intimidating, but it’s no match for an experienced Bookkeeper. As a Bookkeeper, you’ll help to create and maintain these records by logging important information such as sales transactions, invoices, payments and receipts from vendors, and payroll data into your company’s system. Because you’ll deal with a company’s day-to-day finances, you will need to frequently reconcile accounts. For example, when a payment is made for supplies, it’ll be up to you to make sure the payment amount matches the invoice and that there is a record of both. Or you might need to reconcile a credit card bill against the expenses it was used for. This requires good attention to detail and an understanding about what is and isn’t allowed as a business expense.

What is Accounting?

While a Bookkeeper enters and tracks routine financial information, Accountants have much more responsibility. They collect financial data and analyze a company’s strengths and weaknesses to make recommendations for future growth. Although they rely on the transactional information that Bookkeepers provide for financial reporting, Accountants are usually the professionals who decide which reports to pull and when—and how to use them. They look for patterns and trends and help build a strong financial foundation for the organization. If you were an Accounting Assistant, you would provide valuable assistance to the accounting department to make sure they have the information they need to perform their duties.

Bookkeeper Job Duties:

To be an effective Bookkeeper, you need a knack for numbers, good organizational skills, and great attention to detail. Great Bookkeepers can find errors in simple invoicing and payments that save the company money and prevent serious financial woes and headaches. If you decide to pursue this path, here are some of the duties you can expect while you’re on the job:

  • Pay invoices to vendors in a timely manner
  • Issue customer invoices
  • Maintain records of cash receipts
  • Reconcile bank accounts
  • Provide accountant with financial information for reports
  • Process employee payroll

Accounting Assistant Job Duties:

As an Accounting Assistant, you provide necessary administrative support to the accounting team. Although as an Accounting Assistant, you might perform some of the same duties as a Bookkeeper, you’ll also have separate responsibilities by directly supporting an accountant.

  • Provide administrative support to the Accountant and Accounting Department
  • Communicate with clients and vendors
  • Help prepare financial reports
  • Assist with audits
  • Compare transaction records and resolve discrepancies

Bookkeeper or Accounting Assistant: Which Is Right for Me?

Although they have different focuses, both positions require an understanding of numbers and strict attention-to-detail. If you’d like to be involved in day-to-day activities, meet and deal with clients and vendors, sales and receipts, that’s the role of a Bookkeeper. But if you’re more analytical and like to understand the big picture, you might be better suited helping out in the Accounting Department. And today, both positions rely heavily on technology and software programs to assist with bookkeeping financial reporting so you’ll need to be comfortable around computers regardless of the path you take. Whichever role you decide to pursue, you need the right business training to help you get there. At Career Quest Learning Centers, we can provide you with the tools you need to become an Accounting Assistant or a Bookkeeper. Give us a call in Lansing at 877-481-4930 or Jackson at 877-365-8144 to learn more now.



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