Accounting jobs vs Bookkeeping jobs – What’s the difference?

Balancing the AccountsMany of you reading this are looking for accounting jobs, but do you know the difference between an accountant and a bookkeeper? Even though both these professions are classified as finance jobs, there are slight differences between them and today I’m pointing them out to you to make choosing one of them a little easier.

What is a bookkeeper?

A Bookkeeper is someone who keeps the books. Bookkeepers manage day-to-day paperwork like creating and sending out invoices, managing supplier payments and statements and capturing them into an accounting system. Many bookkeepers also assist with VAT returns and payroll in companies.

To become a bookkeeper you need to have good mathematics skills. You can learn by doing and become a bookkeeper over time, but ideally you should look at obtaining one of these qualifications: A National Certificate in Bookkeeping (the most basic qualification for this profession), a Diploma in Bookkeeping (which can be followed up by a degree course).

The better your qualification is, the better your chances will be to find a job and by taking additional courses you’ll have the chance to earn a higher income as time goes by. Experience counts in this profession. It doesn’t matter if you want to work for a company or if you want to work for yourself, bookkeeping clients are more likely to hire someone with experience and knowledge.

What is an accountant?

Bookkeeping might form part of some accountants day to day jobs, but they generally take over after bookkeepers have entered all the transactions into the accounting system. Accountants prepare monthly management accounts or year-end statutory accounts for companies, advise companies on tax and VAT and generally offer practical business advice.

To become an accountant, you need to study B.Com (Acc) via a tertiary institution. You also need a CTA (Certificate Theory of Accounting) qualification. Also consider studying to obtain the Certified Accounting Technician qualification. This qualification allows you to work as an accounting technician, which helps you to get valuable practical experience in the workplace.

If you’re very ambitious, strive to become a chartered accountant (the ultimate in the accounting profession). This will be tough to achieve since you will have to study a 3 year degree course and then complete an additional 3 years of studying before you to sit down for another two examinations to get this top qualification.

Well, there you have it, I hope you know the difference between an accountant and bookkeeper now. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment on this post. If you’ve found this information useful, feel free to share this article with your friends on Facebook and Twitter.

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2 Responses

  1. John Kgapane says:

    I dropped out of my cost & man acc diploma 20 yrs ago 2nd year but now I want to restart my acc career. I was thinking of taking a one year bookkeeping refresher course do you think its a good idea to increase my chances of employment?

    • Jani Grey says:

      Hi Johan,

      Any additional skills will always help increase your chances to be employed.

      If you have not registered your CV on Job Mail, follow this link:

      Once you’ve registered, look for jobs that suit your skill set at and apply for them!

      Alternatively, set up a job alert to receive the latest jobs in your field via email at

      We hope you find employment soon!

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