Whether you already have a bookkeeping job or if you’re simply interested in the types of career paths exist for those with a background in accounting, there’s much to consider. While some bookkeeping jobs will allow for starting in an entry-level position with nothing more than a high school education, other positions will require extensive education, testing and years of hands-on experience.
Regardless of your background or career goals, you can be certain that the field of bookkeeping and accounting is a remarkably diverse one that touches nearly every corner of today’s business world. There’s not an organization of reasonable size on the planet that does not employ someone to handle the details relating to their financial transactions. Those positions can take many shapes and sizes. So if you’re wondering what a future in this field might look like, we’ll take a brief look at different types of accounting and bookkeeping jobs below.
If you’d like to have an idea of what the median salaries are for bookkeeping jobs as well as similar position in the accounting field, please visit our Bookkeeping and Accounting Salaries page.
Present in almost every organization that grows beyond a few employees, bookkeepers provide essential functions that are essential to the overall operation of most organizations. Any financial transaction that a business engages in, will involve a bookkeeper at some point of the process.
Typically, the functions relating to bookkeeping jobs include the recording of sales, purchasing, incoming receipts and outgoing payments, not to mention the entering of data and reviewing and creating of reports related to these transactions. The variety of tasks a bookkeeper may perform for an organization is varied and the smaller the organization with fewer employees, the larger those responsibilities might be.
So how are certified bookkeeping jobs different from traditional bookkeeper positions? In terms of the functions they perform, particularly in smaller organizations where they may be the only employee of their kind, the differences may be minimal or even nonexistent. But what a bookkeeping professional that has been certified has typically demonstrated is that they are a career-minded individual with the drive to do more and grow within their organization.
Certification requires a bookkeeper to go through additional education and testing and make commitments that go beyond punching a time clock. Employees with a bookkeeping certification will definitely stand out against the competition in applicant pools. Companies seeking employees with advanced training will often reward those with certifications with higher pay and place them in advanced positions that may include the managing of other employees.
Accounts Payable – Accounts Receivable Clerk
The accounts payable/receivable clerk will typically function very similarly to a bookkeeper, but with a much more defined role within an organization. Typically the larger a business grows, the more specialized many of the functions of its employees will become. So in the case of an accounts payable or accounts receivable clerk, their job will focus entire on the incoming and outgoing of funds relating to the transactional activity of their organization. In larger organizations where there is an accounts payable/receivable staff numbering in the tens or hundreds, it’s quite conceivable that a clerk may work on no more than a few or single account.
One of the largest expenditures any organization will have is its employee payroll and you bet that any payroll clerk will definitely apply bookkeeping practices and principles on a daily basis. Like any other ledger that a company keeps, those relating to payroll will deal with budgets and the allocation of resources. With hourly employees getting paid different salaries and the need appropriately calculate overtime and holiday hours, the functions and responsibilities of a payroll clerk can be immense.
A payroll clerk will also usually be required to attain a background in the area of human resources. Payroll functions are subject to a variety of state and federal laws and human resources personnel will be involved throughout any payroll planning process. For those interested in a career in Human Resources Management, the payroll clerk position is one of many bookkeeping jobs that provides a great way to get your foot in the door.
For a more in depth look at payroll clerks and what they do, check out our information page here!
Certified Public Accountant
A Certified Public accountant’s position and the duties they perform will be as varied and comprehensive as any on this list. Typically, this designation is afforded to those that have completed The Uninform Certified Public Accountant Examination and have satisfied the additional educational and experience requirements in the state where they reside.
The duties that a certified public accountant typically performs relate to what is commonly referred to as assurance services. Typical tasks that a CPA might perform include but are not limited to:
- Corporate Finance
- Estate Planning
- Financial Accounting
- Financial Planning
- Forensic Accounting
- Income Tax Preparation
- Venture Capital Services
Many states have a lower tier classification of practicing accountants with limited duties compared to that of a CPA. The titles used to identify these positions can vary greatly, with many states referring to them as public accountants or PA’s.
Any employee given the tasks of a basic bookkeeping job, particularly those in smaller organizations, will at some point be charged with task of tracking much that organization’s incoming and outgoing inventory. This can often allow those workers who interested to springboard into a career in inventory control.
Any business that buys and sells products on a reasonably large scale will have a need for these employees. The responsibilities related to this position will often involve performing of periodic inventory, managing an organizations distribution process as well as responsibilities in theft prevention.
There are typically two types of auditors at work in the accounting field; that of the internal auditor and that of the external auditor. An internal auditor is an accountant employed by an organization to pay specific attention to that organization’s financial records with purpose of maintaining their accuracy. An external auditor is that which might be employed by a government body or third party regulatory agency that might oversee a particular industry.
A financial analyst will be similar to a controller in a number of ways with regards to the advice and consent responsibilities they may have with their organization’s decision makers. The differences lie in their approach. Where a controller will largely focus on a company’s internals a financial analyst will look at the microeconomic and macroeconomic factors that are occurring in the economy and how they affect the organization’s growth and future development.
Financial Analysts will typically have an educational background with courses in accounting, economics, math and business. They will also have passed a number of industry specific examinations such as the Series 7 or Series 63 or will have completed the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) program.
For a closer look at what Financial Analysts do, check out our Financial Analyst Career Overview Page.
A controller will be tasked with being well-versed in all financial aspects of the organization that they work for. A controller will typically be responsible for the preparation of their organization’s financial statement, financial forecasting, budget reports, and profit and loss statements. They also may be responsible for making financial recommendations to a company’s board or decision makers up to and including an organization’s CEO.
In addition to obtaining a license as a CPA, many controller will also possess a law degree and will have passed a bar exam in their state of practice. This is because so many of a Controller’s responsibilities may spill over into a company’s legal responsibilities.
Certified Tax Accountant
A certified tax accountant tends to the taxes, audits and record keeping for company and individuals needing these services. These accountants can either work for a single organization in this capacity or function as a CPA working for several individuals or companies on a freelance basis.
Certified tax accountants will typically possess extensive experience in tax preparation. Depending on the size and scope of their clients, they may also be a practicing CPA or attorney specializing in tax law. With that in mind, it’s easy to see why many law firms that specialize in tax law with seek to employ attorneys that are also certified public accountants or those that have an accounting background.