The difference between accountants and bookkeepers
Are you wondering what the difference between accountants and bookkeepers are? While there are similarities between these two professions, there are crucial differences you should be aware of. Once you know the differences, you can decide which career is better suited to your preferences and skills. Find a wide range of finance vacancies on Job Mail today.
Differences between accountants and bookkeepers
While both focus on a company’s finances, there are different duties associated with these two professions. Accountants focus on analysing financial information while record-keeping is at the heart of a bookkeeper’s responsibilities. Accountants are expected to present their findings in a way that is useful to the company while bookkeepers focus on entering all the financial information accurately.
Bookkeepers use business software solutions to complete their duties, which can also be used by other employees. Accountants use specialised accounting software to carry out analysis and tax planning, which is not typically used by other staff members. Bookkeepers usually know the daily details of how the company runs while accountants look at the bigger picture.
|Record financial information||Assemble/adjust entries|
|Keep financial records organised||Monitor the company’s financial health|
|Compile invoices||Compile financial statements and income tax returns|
|Record debits and credits||Analyse and interpret financial information|
|Balance general ledgers||Develop financial strategies and offer recommendations|
|Process payroll||Tax planning|
Different skills requirements
Both accountants and bookkeepers need to be trustworthy and have mathematical capabilities.
Bookkeepers must be able to make simple calculations and they need to be able to multi-task. The ability to pay attention to detail is essential for this role. Accuracy is required as mistakes can have far-reaching consequences.
Accountants need outstanding problem-solving and analytical skills to complete their duties. Logical thinking is also important for this position.
Even though these two professions are different, they are connected to one another. Accountants use the records that bookkeepers compile to make their interpretations. Without the precise financial information that bookkeepers put together, accountants wouldn’t be able to get their job done. Bookkeepers rely on the systems that are set up by accountants to determine which information they need to record as well as the structure of the records. Large companies often employ an accountant and bookkeeper, who work together to keep the finances in order. Smaller companies usually hire a bookkeeper who consults with an independent accountant on more complicated financial issues.
While it’s not mandatory to study further to become a bookkeeper, having insight and knowledge will definitely benefit you. Most bookkeepers receive on-the-job training. If you’ve passed Grade 12 accounting, you can get hired as an assistant bookkeeper as a start.
If you would like to go and study, here are some options to consider:
- National Certificate: Bookkeeping – You can study at tertiary education institutes across South Africa.
- Bookkeeping Certifications – Mostly available at tertiary institutes, such as colleges, but online as well.
Unlike bookkeeping, you’ll need to study further to become an accountant. While each educational institute has different entry requirements, you’ll need to have a senior certificate with matric exemption. It’s advisable to take mathematics, English, and accounting as school subjects.
What you can study:
- Diploma in Accounting – You can study at most universities and colleges across South Africa.
- Advanced Diploma in Accounting – Available at most universities across South Africa. To qualify for this, you’ll need to have a National Diploma. Requirements differ between educational institutes.
- Bachelor of Accounting Degree – Available at most universities and colleges across South Africa.
Now that you know the difference between accounting and bookkeeping, you can get a head start on your career. Visit Job Mail and find vacancies for accountants and bookkeepers today.