What a bookkeeper does depends on their specific position, company and industry. However, most bookkeepers specialize in certain financial functions and administrative departments.
Bookkeeper – Accounting
Bookkeepers who work in accounting departments enter data, create financial statements and process payroll and payments, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They also invoice clients, reconcile bank accounts, handle inter-company transactions and post bills and receipts. Sometimes, they work on employee payroll, benefits and insurance issues. Bookkeepers are often asked to create monthly and customized reports. They use standard accounting programs and Excel spreadsheets to manage massive amounts of data. Accounting bookkeepers also work with vendors to manage accounts and with management to create budgets and forecasts.
Bookkeeper – Auditing
Bookkeepers who perform auditing functions often work under the direction of the accounting manager or the chief financial officer. These bookkeepers are responsible for coordinating all internal audit activities. They primarily use tax returns and financial reports to ensure that payments are accurate and that contractual terms are being followed. These bookkeepers must be proficient in general ledger accounting and vendor contract compliance. For example, a franchise-based corporation would employ these bookkeepers to audit franchises to ensure that their tax returns and disclosed revenue amounts match.
Bookkeeper – Project Management
A bookkeeper who works on a project management team is accountable for monitoring the budgets and financial progress of assigned projects. They approve expenses, collect payments and ensure that invoices are issued to customers. These bookkeepers create separate project accounts within accounting systems to better maintain records, such as contracts, change orders and expense accounts. They are authorized to allow access to project accounts and transfer of expenses in and out of other business accounts. They regularly review and approve time sheets, overhead charges and supplier invoices. They investigate financial variances and submit follow-up reports to management.
Bookkeeper – Education
Bookkeepers who work in school or educational administration officers performs various financial duties related to district and study body funds. They help staff follow accounting policies and procedures concerning state and federal funding. For example, a high school bookkeeper may be responsible for financial accounts for student activities and organizations. They must prepare monthly financial reports, status updates and deposit records. These bookkeepers must exhibit a high level of initiative and independence because they are solely responsible to issue checks, make deposits, check balances and meet timelines.
Bookkeeper – Non-Profit
A bookkeeper at a non-profit organization may not enjoy a high salary, but their critical work will positively impact their community. Their essential duties revolve around processing receipts and bank deposits for charitable donations. They verify and reconcile bank statements, compile monthly summaries and assist with various fundraising activities. These bookkeepers have to pay close attention to organizational expenses and funding requests. They have to maintain a working knowledge of state and federal tax regulations for non-profits.
Related Resource: Accounting Clerk
Finally, bookkeepers that work for global e-commerce companies are technically experienced financial professionals who mainly work with online transactions, overseas wire transfers and merchant providers. What a bookkeeper does ultimately depend on their specific job, but most firms expect them to have a bachelor’s degree in accounting.