All businesses must undertake at least basic bookkeeping. Bookkeeping is the maintaining of financial records of a business. A bookkeeper’s primary tasks include maintaining accounting records, especially expenditures and accounts payable and receivable; calculating profits/losses; and producing financial statements at various reporting periods. In small businesses, bookkeepers often serve in many other roles, from the person who receives receipts to the person who calculates and cuts the checks for payroll.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 2.1 million people in the U.S. were employed as bookkeepers, accounting or auditing clerks as of 2008. The bookkeeping profession has become highly computerized. Most bookkeepers use specialized accounting software, spreadsheets, databases and so forth to do their jobs. At most businesses a clerk or bookkeeper enters data from receipts or bills into a computer where it is stored electronically for future use.
Bookkeeping Needs Vary By Industry
While all businesses use bookkeepers for basic financial record-keeping, many smaller businesses only have very basic bookkeeping needs, and in more than a few cases, the business owner is also the bookkeeper. Larger business, especially international businesses, tend to have very complex bookkeeping and accounting procedures and may have a staff of several dozen or more bookkeepers, accounting clerks, auditors and accountants. Larger public businesses have more complex accounting simply because of scale, but they are also legally required to keep more records and are frequently involved in complicated investment transactions such as tax shelters.
Bookkeeping Vs. Accounting
Bookkeeping is the process of recording the financial data of a business in a specified manner. Bookkeeping is basically clerical in nature. In one sense, accounting picks up where bookkeeping ends. Accounting involves designing systems for accurately and easily recording financial records, and the preparation and interpretation of taxes, financial statements and other reports. Bookkeepers in small businesses sometimes perform tasks like preparing taxes or reports that are generally performed by accountants in larger businesses.
Median Salaries and Employment Prospects for Bookkeepers
According to the BLS, the median annual salary for bookkeepers was $32,510 as of 2008. The mid-50-percent range of the salary curve for bookkeepers was from $26,350 to $40,130, with the top 10 percent earning greater than $49,260. Employment prospects for bookkeepers are about average, and are projected to grow by around 10 percent between 2008 and 2018.
2016 Salary Information for Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks
Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks earned a median annual salary of $38,390 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks earned a 25th percentile salary of $30,640, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $48,440, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 1,730,500 people were employed in the U.S. as bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks.