Do You Need a Bookkeeper or a Controller?


A bookkeeper with professional certification shows they are committed to the trade, possess the skills and expertise required, and are willing to continue learning new methods and techniques. The Property Accountant addresses the requirements needed to buy and sell real estate. Job responsibilities include crafting budgets, setting up escrows and preparing statements. A Forensic Accountant uses the combination of investigative and accounting training to examine the financials of a business or an individual. A Forensic Accountant conducts audits and creates reports that are legally acceptable in court cases and legal action based on their findings, commonly for embezzlement or fraud cases. A Forensic Accountant may also be called upon to testify in court and prepare additional visual aids based on their findings.


Regardless of the size of your organization, someone must keep accurate books, analyze them and the financial statements they yield, and direct the company’s spending. He or she has control over and responsibility for any other accountants and bookkeepers. As an accountant, the controller is responsible for interpreting the meaning of a company’s financial statements and data, as well as ensuring their accuracy. When looking to decide when is the proper time to hire a CFO, most small to mid-sized companies will not be able to cost justify a full-time individual.

What is the difference between a Bookkeeper, Controller and CFO?

A top 10 alternatives to xero is not an accountant, nor should they be considered an accountant. Here’s what you need to know about these two roles to determine which one your business needs. ContactMilwaukee’s leading bookkeeping service for a free consultation. Below are the most popular entry-level accounting job titles ranked by both candidate and employer searches on Google (source;ahrefs and Google Keyword Planner).

accountants and auditors, in the traditional sense, has been around as long as there has been commerce – since around 2600 B.C. A bookkeeper’s job is to maintain complete records of all money that has come into and gone out of the business. Bookkeepers record daily transactions in a consistent, easy-to-read way. Financial systems software, it is the job of the controller to review the data and make adjusting entries to achieve a more accurate representation of the economic activity. As with the bookkeeper, there is no specific degree or certification required to be a controller. A deep technical knowledge of financial systems and a firm familiarity with the goals of company ownership are essential for a good controller.

What Is Accounting?

Titles such as Bookkeeper, Controller and Chief Financial Officer can get tossed around rather loosely in the small and medium size business world. Today we’ll define the general duties of each position and their strategic roles within your organization. Public accounting generally pays the most to a candidate right out of school. In particular, the big four firms of Ernst & Young, Deloitte, KPMG, and PricewaterhouseCoopers offer larger salaries than mid-size and small firms. Depending on the city, you can expect to earn between $40,000 and $60,000 your first year as a Big Four accountant. While the companies do not publish salaries on their websites, the benefits can be a large draw.

In fact, many aspiring accountants work as bookkeepers to get a foot in the door while still in school. Bookkeepers who excel at their jobs are also sometimes promoted to accounting positions, even if they lack the level of education the company typically prefers. Most recently she was a senior contributor at Forbes covering the intersection of money and technology before joining Donna has carved out a name for herself in the finance and small business markets, writing hundreds of business articles offering advice, insightful analysis, and groundbreaking coverage. Her areas of focus at include business loans, accounting, and retirement benefits.

Stock Market Sell-Off: 1 Growth Stock to Buy, and 1 to Sell – The Motley Fool

Stock Market Sell-Off: 1 Growth Stock to Buy, and 1 to Sell.

Posted: Thu, 16 Mar 2023 11:30:00 GMT [source]

Accounting often requires more education than becoming a bookkeeper, where most accountants hold undergraduate or graduate degrees or even MBAs in accounting, economics, or finance. Join our newsletter to stay up to date with recent news, updates, and insights regarding financial management for small businesses and startups. May communicate with small-business owners less often and usually during tax season. Bookkeepers and accountants share the same long-term goal of helping your business financially thrive, but their roles are distinct. Bookkeepers are often involved in a business’s day-to-day operations, while accountants take a higher-level view. Whether you hire an accountant, a bookkeeper, or both, ensure they’re qualified by asking for client references, checking for certifications, or performing screening tests.

Transferable Skills

All financial products, shopping products and services are presented without warranty. When evaluating offers, please review the financial institution’s Terms and Conditions. If you find discrepancies with your credit score or information from your credit report, please contact TransUnion® directly.

tax returns

Bookkeepers and accountants are both critical for the financial health of a company. If you’re not tracking daily expenses, you’ll have very little information to give to your accountant and they won’t be able to make informed decisions. If you’re only focusing on expenses and not big-picture financial data, you’ll miss out on some strategic opportunities. Accounting is for trained professionals who can give a fuller summary of your company’s financial realities. Accountants rely on financial statements from bookkeepers to do their work, but they also look for larger trends and the way money works across the business. Controllers tend to make more money and have to manage people and organize departments; not all accountants have the same responsibility.

When a bookkeeper wants to leap to being an accountant, they will need to take the CPA exam, plus earn a bachelor’s degree , if they do not have one already. Fifty states plus the District of Columbia require accountants to earn 150 credit hours of college education before taking the national four-part Uniform CPA exam. Bookkeepers who are interested in switching jobs but do not have a college degree might consider becoming an EA after a stint with the IRS.

With that being said, as time progresses, it is becoming increasingly the case that accountants hold at least a bachelor’s degree. In many cases, they also have a Master’s in Business Administration or a Master of Accountancy. Accountants take information and data to the next step by prescribing the actions that should occur to maximize profit and minimize losses.


You could boil down the choice between mid-level accountant and controller to one between specialization and general control. Most accountants become increasingly specialized and narrowed in their career focus over a few years, in part because that helps fuel higher salaries. Controllers can’t afford to be experts in just one area since they have to oversee entire accounting operations and offer systemic advice to their contemporaries.

Comptrollers also review all accounting activities to ensure high standards and make adjustments to budgets as needed. Complete two years of continuous experience in financial management or management accounting . To become an accountant, you must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university.

People often confuse bookkeepers and accountants—and with good reason. While there are certain similarities and overlaps between the two, there are distinctions that set these two roles apart. Bookkeepers don’t necessarily need higher education in order to work in their field while accountants can be more specialized in their training. Because bookkeepers tend to work for smaller companies, they may not be paid as much as accountants. Knowing the differences between the two can help people find their niche in the industry and can give guidance to companies on who to hire for their needs.

While these services come at a cost, they can maximize the accuracy and efficiency of vital financial management processes. Your business’s accounting needs might not require the in-depth expertise of a hired professional. You might also be watching your company’s list of expenses and wondering where to reduce spending. In either case, consider handling the accounting yourself or delegating this responsibility to one or a few of your current employees.

Categories: Bookkeeping.