Bookkeeper vs CPA: What are the Differences?

Are you looking for help managing your business’s money? Learn about the differences between a bookkeeper vs. a CPA.

This post is provided for general information only. Please confirm the details and circumstances of your unique situation with your tax accountant or other appropriate advisor before taking action.

CPA vs. Bookkeeper: Key Differences

CPAs are accountants who help people manage their money. Bookkeepers are accountants who maintain records of all financial transactions.

Bookkeepers and CPAs work together to maintain a company’s finances. Both professions help companies stay afloat by keeping records of transactions and offering advice about how to improve them.

CPAs usually cost more because you’re getting financial advice and judgment. Bookkeepers can also provide key assistance in your business but are more focused on recording what happened instead of finding ways to change things for the better.

What is a bookkeeper?

Bookkeepers are people who record and maintain financial data for a business, such as invoices, loans, bank statements, and payroll. Their job involves writing down information about customers’ transactions and recording them in a ledger. They may use software to analyze and organize this information. They usually work independently but sometimes work in teams with accountants.

What does a bookkeeper do?

A bookkeeper’s primary responsibility is to maintain the accuracy of your financial records. This includes keeping track of income and expenses, as well as maintaining your books and tax forms. A bookkeeper should be familiar with any software programs you use, including QuickBooks, Xero, Sage, etc. They should be able to assist you with basic accounting tasks like data entry, automation, and reconciliation. They should be able to give you the information you need to manage your finances and prepare your taxes, but they may not have the level of education needed to handle everything.

How do you hire a bookkeeper?

 There are several different ways to hire a bookkeeper, depending on the size of your company and your needs. Some companies decide that online accounting software does everything they need without needing to hire a bookkeeper. Many of the larger services, like QuickBooks Online, now give you access to live help when you need it.

Companies with multiple employees may hire their own bookkeeper on either a full-time or part-time basis depending on how much work they have to do. Others hire freelance bookkeepers on an hourly or project basis.

What is a CPA?

Certified Public Accountants are accountants who pass exams and earn professional certification. They also have education requirements, including a degree in accounting.

CPAs have accreditation within the accounting field and provide valuable insights into taxes, government financial regulation and auditing. They can conduct audits of entire organizations and represent organizations during interactions with IRS. CPAs can file your tax return and provide tax advice.

What does a CPA do?

CPAs help businesses by offering advice on how to run their businesses better. They also consult on bookkeeping and accounting services such as bookkeeping, payroll, and financial consulting.

A CPA is an accounting expert who prepares financial statements, reviews them, signs tax returns, and represents clients before the IRS. He or she is also responsible for auditing companies’ books and records.

How do you hire a CPA?

Most CPAs work for CPA firms, just like how lawyers work for law firms. When you hire a CPA, you may pay by the hour, on a monthly retainer, or by a flat fee for certain projects.

Larger companies may hire their own CPAs in-house. However, companies with in-house CPAs may still need to use outside CPAs for things like audits. For example, public companies have a legal requirement to have a CPA audit their financial statements.

What costs more — bookkeeper vs. CPA?

A skilled bookkeeper earns $20-$60 per hour while a CPA charges $150-$350 per hour. Accounting professionals are moving towards fixed fees instead of hourly rates. Fixed fees allow for more planning and certainty about what you’ll pay. You can expect the fixed fees to work out to about the same as the hourly fees on average.


Whether you need a bookkeeper or CPA depends on your accounting needs. Businesses with a lot of transactions often need bookkeepers. Businesses with advanced planning needs often need CPAs. Businesses with both often need both. To learn more, you can chat with a CPA or review your bookkeeping options.

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