According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2017, the top earning bookkeepers, accountants and auditing clerks earned on an average US $39,240 per year.
A bookkeeper or an accountant is one of the most important positions in a company or organization. This is because it is the responsibility of the accountant to handle the entire financial function of the company.
The key responsibility of a bookkeeper is to keep a record of the transactions of the company like accounts receivable, accounts payable, calculation of profit and loss, etc. He has to maintain a record in the books of accounts by posting detailed entries in the journal and general ledger regularly. He also has to reconcile the bank accounts.
Apart from this, he is also expected to maintain accounts for all transactions and ensure that all the figures are in order. He has to keep a tab on the expenses and income of the organization. He should always ensure that every entry in the financial statements tallies and is backed by the relevant records.
In many organizations, looking after payroll of employees is a key duty of a bookkeeper. He evaluates leaves of employees, sees if there are any deductibles, calculates salaries, issues paychecks or directs the bank to credit salaries on time. He ensures the bank has enough balance to credit salaries on time. If there are discrepancies, he settles them.
A bookkeeper has to prepare certain mandatory financial documents like the income statement, budget report, trial balance, profit and loss statement, cash flow statement, balance sheet, annual report, etc. He has to calculate and give accurate details of every entry in these reports.
A bookkeeper has to draft and dispatch invoices or bills for receiving payments from various customers. He has to send the bill for the correct amount of receivables. Many customers have their own terms of payment and a bookkeeper will have to follow up consistently till the payment is made.
In a large organization with a team structure, a bookkeeper might have to assist the chief financial officer, finance manager or a senior accountant for the finance related matters of the office. In such a case, the duties of each team member will be distributed.
However in a smaller organization, a bookkeeper may have to undertake additional responsibilities. He may also have to help the employees in filing their insurance claims, benefit claims and provide reimbursements.
Many times, a bookkeeper is responsible for signing checks or issuing cash to people. Hence, he should ensure that the necessary approvals are in place and the bank accounts have adequate balance before issuing the payment. Also, he has to keep a close vigil on doubtful transactions in the company's bank account.
A bookkeeper has to be abreast with rules and regulations of tax and business laws. He attends programs, seminars and is a part of forums and institutes imparting knowledge about such aspects. Any faltering on the bookkeeper's part can have serious legal and financial implications for the organization. Hence, he should update his knowledge from time to time.
A bookkeeper has to do tax planning and also file for business tax returns. He should ensure that timely tax payments are made to the local, federal and state government. He has to meticulously take care of all the documentation, paperwork and records required for tax.
In certain companies, an accountant is also responsible for conducting an internal audit to verify the accuracy of accounting conducted manually or with the help of computers. He is also answerable to an external auditor for any queries related to the transactions in the financial reports.
He should update his knowledge of the software related to bookkeeping and accounting. They will not only help in saving time, but also curtail the errors which are prone to occur during manual accounting.
An accountant has to look after the allocation of funds and completion of formalities for Business and Workers Compensation Insurance and Employee Health Insurance.
Reports and Documentation:
An accountant should maintain separate registers or records for payroll and checks. He prepares customized reports by collating the data as required by the senior management. Also, he has to generate payroll reports on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis. He may also have to prepare reports related to statistics, finance and accounts for audit purposes.
- Accuracy with numbers
- Logical thinker
- Software skills
- Communication skills
- Troubleshooting skills
Though bookkeeping does not require specialized training, an individual must have at least a high school diploma. However, having a college degree or may be a diploma in accounting or bookkeeping can help the person in earning more. Most companies give on-the-job training to candidates to help them understand the financial proceedings of the company.
An individual who aspires to become an accountant should have a knack of handling numbers. He is also required to handle large sums of money and be very organized, in order to avoid the loss of important papers and documents.
Moreover, bookkeeping can be tedious job because one has to update the accounts on a regular basis. Apart from this, he should be alert, not only to avoid making mistakes, but also to point out the mistakes made by others.
When it comes to salary, there are several factors that have to be considered. The total salary would generally depend on the size of the company along with the duties, responsibilities and perquisites of the job.
Depending on these factors, many accountants are paid on an hourly basis. On an average, the salary can be anywhere between $25,172 - $54,774. However, this is just the starting salary. In other words, the salary of an accountant varies as per his qualifications and work experience.
An accountant needs to personify responsibility and integrity as he has to handle confidential data of the company. He has to ensure that all the finance related activities are functioning within the scope of the government rules and regulations.