Is a bookkeeper cheaper than an accountant?

Difference Between Hiring a Bookkeeper and Accountant: Cost and Services Comparison

Deciding whether to hire a bookkeeper or an accountant depends on your business’s financial needs. Both professionals are key to your company’s success, but they have different roles. It’s important to know these differences to manage your finances well and save money.

is a bookkeeper cheaper than an accountant

A bookkeeper focuses on daily financial tasks like recording transactions and managing payroll. An accountant, on the other hand, offers more services. These include financial planning, tax help, and assistance with business loans. So, is a bookkeeper cheaper than an accountant? It really depends on how complex and big your financial activities are.

Key Takeaways

  • Choosing between a bookkeeper and an accountant depends on specific financial requirements.
  • Bookkeepers manage daily financial tasks and record-keeping.
  • Accountants provide comprehensive financial advice and tax services.
  • The cost-effectiveness of hiring either depends on your business’s financial complexity.
  • Understanding the distinct roles helps optimize your financial management strategy.

What Are the Key Responsibilities of a Bookkeeper and an Accountant?

Knowing what a bookkeeper and an accountant do can help you pick the right financial team for your business. Each job is crucial for managing your company’s money well.

Bookkeeping tasks

Basic Tasks of a Bookkeeper

Bookkeepers do many important tasks to keep your finances right. They record every financial deal, make sure debits and credits are correct, and prepare key reports. Their main jobs are:

Invoice CreationGenerating and sending invoices to clients.
Accounts Receivable and PayableManaging incoming and outgoing payments.
Bank ReconciliationEnsuring the company’s financial records match bank statements.
Payroll ProcessingManaging payroll tasks to ensure employees get paid correctly and on time.

These tasks are key to a strong bookkeeping service. They help keep your financial records accurate.

Advanced Accounting Duties of an Accountant

Bookkeepers focus on daily tasks, but accountants use this data for deeper insights. Accountants in a firm or on their own do things like:

Tax PreparationPreparing and filing tax returns to ensure compliance with tax regulations.
Financial AnalysisEvaluating financial health and providing insights into cash flow and profitability.
Budget CreationDeveloping detailed budgets to guide financial planning and performance.
Financial ForecastingPredicting future financial trends to aid in business strategy.

These tasks need more skills and training. That’s why people with accounting training are key for making big business decisions.

Overlap in Bookkeeping and Accounting

Bookkeeping and accounting have some things in common. Both aim to keep a business financially healthy and in line with laws. For example, both might record transactions and prepare reports. They also work together in a firm to manage your finances well.

Knowing about these similarities can help you use both bookkeeping and accounting to reach your financial goals.

Why Might a Small Business Need a Bookkeeper or an Accountant?

As a small business owner, keeping your business financially healthy is key to success. It’s important to know why you might need a bookkeeper or an accountant. They both bring unique benefits to your business’s financial health. They help with managing daily finances and planning for the future.

Benefits of Hiring a Bookkeeper for Day-to-Day Tasks

Bookkeepers are vital for managing your business’s daily finances. They record transactions, keep track of accounts, and reconcile bank statements. They also prepare financial reports and handle accounts receivable and payable. Sometimes, they even process payroll and talk regularly with business owners.

business’s financial health

Many small business owners save money by hiring a bookkeeper. Bookkeepers charge less than accountants. In 2021, the average salary for bookkeepers was $45,560 or $21.90 per hour, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This helps you focus on your business while keeping finances in check.

When to Hire an Accountant for Financial Advice

Accountants are key for specialized financial advice, tax help, or big financial strategies. They prepare tax returns, give financial advice, and help with planning and loans. They have more education and know the latest tax laws.

Accountants do deep financial analysis to help make long-term decisions. For example, CPAs can talk to the IRS for you and know a lot about taxes. Their rates are usually between $100 to $200 per hour, depending on where you are and what you need. For more info on accountants and bookkeepers, check out this detailed comparison on NerdWallet.

Considerations for a Small Business Owner

Deciding whether to hire a bookkeeper, an accountant, or both depends on your business’s finances and growth. Some owners do their own bookkeeping with software like QuickBooks Online. But, hiring pros becomes a good idea as your business grows.

If your business needs regular financial care, a bookkeeper is a good choice. But, talking to an accountant once a year for tax advice and financial tips is also smart. This way, you get their financial insights and keep your business growing and following the rules.

Knowing the differences between these roles, like the cost and services, helps you make better choices for your small business’s accounting needs.

How Do Costs Compare When You Hire a Bookkeeper vs. an Accountant?

Choosing between a bookkeeper or an accountant is a big decision for any business. Let’s look at the costs of each option.

Hourly and Monthly Rates for a Bookkeeping Service

Bookkeeping services can be paid by the hour or monthly. The price depends on how complex the tasks are and how many transactions there are. On average, bookkeepers cost between $20 to $50 per hour. Some even offer monthly packages starting at $350.

These services include tracking expenses, managing invoices, and reconciling bank statements.

Fees of a Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

Accountants charge more because they have more expertise and qualifications. A Certified Public Accountant (CPA) can cost between $150 to $350 per hour. Their fees reflect their ability to give specialized financial advice, plan taxes, and do audits.

Investing in a CPA can be worth it for the deep financial knowledge they offer.

Budgeting for Bookkeeping vs. Accounting

When choosing between a bookkeeper or an accountant, think about cost-effectiveness. A bookkeeper is more affordable for everyday financial tasks. But, an accountant and a bookkeeper together can offer valuable insights for making big decisions.

It’s important to balance your budget to use the best of both worlds. This can help manage your finances better and support your business’s growth.

Here’s a comparison of costs:

ServiceHourly RateMonthly Rate
Bookkeeping Service$20 – $50Starting at $350
Certified Public Accountant (CPA)$150 – $350N/A

The choice between a bookkeeper or an accountant depends on your business’s needs and goals. Knowing the typical costs can help you make a better decision. You can also start with bookkeeping and then you might need accounting services as you grow. Future Proof Accounting offers both bookkeeping and accounting services.

Should You Use Accounting Software or Hire a Bookkeeper?

Choosing between using accounting software or hiring a bookkeeper can greatly affect your business. It’s key to look at both options to see which suits your financial needs best.

Advantages of Best Accounting Software

Tools like QuickBooks Online, FreshBooks, and Xero make managing finances easier. They automate tasks such as making invoices and sending payment reminders. They also produce detailed financial reports.

This automation saves time and cuts down on errors. Plus, these tools are easy to use, letting you handle your finances with little training.

Limitations of Software vs. a Human Bookkeeper

Accounting software has many benefits, but it can’t replace a human bookkeeper’s skills. It may not spot complex financial issues or give personalized financial advice. A bookkeeper brings valuable human insight to find errors and offer strategic advice.

Integrated Approach: Software and Bookkeeping

Using accounting software with a professional bookkeeper offers the best of both worlds. Software like QuickBooks Online, FreshBooks, and Xero takes care of simple tasks. This lets your bookkeeper focus on complex accounting work.

This teamwork ensures your finances are managed well and accurately. It helps your business grow and stay stable.

What Qualifications Should You Look for in a Bookkeeper or an Accountant?

When hiring financial experts, make sure they have the right qualifications for your business. Knowing the difference between a bookkeeper and an accountant means understanding their certifications, credentials, and education.

Certification and Training for a Bookkeeper

Bookkeepers can have a certification from groups like the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers or the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers. These certifications mean they’ve completed thorough training and follow industry standards.

Credentials of a Certified Public Accountant

A certified public accountant, or CPA, has passed the tough CPA exam and met state licensing needs. This shows they’re very skilled and can handle complex financial tasks. Not all accountants are CPAs, but those who are can offer top-level financial services and advice.

Degree Requirements in Accounting

Having a degree in accounting is key for many accounting jobs. Some accountants might just have a bachelor’s degree, but others get more certifications to grow their skills. It’s important to match your business’s financial needs with the right professional qualifications for good financial management and following the law.

Personal Anecdote

If you are having trouble deciding on whether to hire a bookkeeper, it’s OK to wait. If you are making less than 100k a year I think a business owner can handle it themselves. But I wouldn’t attempt QuickBooks until you are ready to hire someone or you have learned accounting.


Choosing between hiring a bookkeeper, an accountant, or using accounting software depends on your business’s financial needs. Bookkeepers are great at handling daily financial tasks and keeping things accurate. Small business owners often find bookkeepers more affordable. They are a cost-effective choice for managing everyday financial data.

Accountants, especially CPAs, are perfect for deep financial analysis and strategic advice. They are key for dealing with complex tax laws and making smart business decisions. Their skills come at a higher cost because they can handle complex financial tasks. As your business grows, hiring a professional accountant becomes crucial for staying compliant and growing your business.

Knowing the roles and costs of bookkeepers and accountants helps business owners plan their financial strategies. Finding the right balance between cost and quality financial management is important. When deciding between hiring a bookkeeper or an accountant, consider your business’s size, complexity, and financial goals. Starting out, a bookkeeper can offer valuable insights and peace of mind at a lower cost. As your business grows, an accountant can provide strategic guidance for financial stability.


Q: What is the difference between an accountant and a bookkeeper?

A: A bookkeeper is responsible for recording financial transactions and maintaining day-to-day financial records, while an accountant is a professional who analyzes, interprets, and compiles this financial information into financial statements. Understanding the difference between bookkeepers and accountants is crucial for determining what your business requires.

Q: When should I hire a bookkeeper or an accountant?

A: You should consider hiring a bookkeeper for day-to-day financial tasks such as data entry and recording financial transactions. An accountant is needed for more complex financial tasks like preparing annual financial statements, interpreting financial data, and making informed decisions based on that data.

Q: Is a bookkeeper cheaper than an accountant?

A: Generally, it is cheaper to hire a bookkeeper compared to an accountant. Bookkeepers typically handle day-to-day tasks and have lower hourly rates, while accountants typically charge more for their specialized services.

Q: What bookkeeping tasks can a bookkeeper help with?

A: A bookkeeper can help with a variety of tasks, including data entry, recording financial transactions, managing accounts payable and receivable, and processing payroll. These bookkeeping tasks are essential for maintaining accurate financial records.

Q: Can a bookkeeper handle my business’s payroll?

A: Yes, a bookkeeper can manage payroll services, ensuring that employees are paid accurately and on time. This includes processing payroll, calculating wages, and handling deductions and taxes.

Q: How are accountants and bookkeepers different in terms of qualifications?

A: Accountants typically have more advanced qualifications compared to bookkeepers. Accountants usually hold certifications such as Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or Chartered Accountant (CA), which require formal education and exams. Bookkeepers may have certification in specific software and bookkeeping courses but generally have less formal education.

Q: Do I need to hire an accounting firm if I have a small business?

A: Whether you need an accounting firm depends on the complexity and scale of your business’s financial activities. Small businesses with straightforward financial transactions might manage with a bookkeeper, but as the business grows, hiring an accounting firm or an accountant may be beneficial for handling more complex financial requirements and making strategic decisions.

Q: How can an accountant or a bookkeeper improve my business’s financial health?

A: Both accountants and bookkeepers play vital roles in improving a business’s financial health. A bookkeeper ensures that the daily financial transactions are accurately recorded, while an accountant helps in analyzing this data to create financial statements, identify financial trends, and provide strategic advice to improve profitability and efficiency.

Q: What type of financial information can a bookkeeper provide?

A: A bookkeeper can provide detailed records of all financial transactions, including sales, purchases, receipts, and payments. This information is crucial for tracking the financial health of the business on a day-to-day basis and for making informed decisions.

Q: Can a bookkeeper help with tax preparation?

A: While bookkeepers can help maintain records and prepare necessary paperwork for tax filing, an accountant is usually needed for comprehensive tax preparation and planning. Accountants have the expertise to ensure compliance with tax laws and to help minimize tax liabilities effectively.

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